I’ve known for a long time that my biomechanics below the waist were, to put it delicately, fucked.
I had hip displaysia (it’s not just for German shepherds anymore!) as a child, so bad that by age 2, my mother packed me off to Houston with my grandparents to see my uncle, an orthopedic surgeon who served as team doctor to the Houston Oilers. I couldn’t climb stairs upright without falling down, and I remember that I didn’t climb them without using my hands on the treads until I was 4 or 5. By that time, as well, I had also sprained my left ankle (this will be important later) so badly that I was on crutches for several weeks during nursery school. I honestly don’t remember what happened, but I do remember that I was on the sofa bed for a while (the sick couch, where Kat stayed after she broke her face while learning to ride a bike), and my Valentine’s cards from nursery school had to be brought to me at home.
But those were probably the early signs that something was very wrong. I never had a real issue again until law school, when I would walk to work during the summer in relatively flat shoes and have problems with plantar fasciitis.
It wasn’t until about 6 years ago, when I was still running and many pounds thinner, that the chickens came home to roost. I was out running in Prospect Park (when I lived in Park Slope, in the crazy-kleptomaniac-hunchback-super apartment) when I hopped up off the road surface to a track that had been worn out in the grass. My left ankle led, and unfortunately, it buckled and I started falling. But I started falling down a ravine, so I threw myself the other way, and landed on my right knee. The knee turned out fine, though it gave me more trouble at first, so I didn’t notice the pain in my left ankle.
But I noticed it later, and I had to give up running. Then I started noticing how painful just walking was. Within two years, I had had surgery on the ankle to clear up the bone chips that had been knocked loose in the joint. I thought I was good to go post-op. But walking, and especially, running, was still very painful, and the pain had started moving up to my knee. Soon it got to the point where I’d try to get into an exercise regimen and have to quit within a month because my knee would start to freeze up on me outside of the activity (while not necessarily bothering me during the activity). My kneecap would pop and click and move off track, and I wouldn’t be able to walk down stairs, kind of an issue when you rely on the subway.
Now, my ankle surgeon told me to wear some kind of orthotic in my shoes, and I do — during the winter. But in summer, I like to give my feet some room to breathe, and so I wind up wearing rather flimsy sandals.
Recently, I gave exercising the old college try again, this time — inspired by Liz of Granny Gets a Vibrator — focusing on weightlifting. Aaaand my knee starts up again, though not as bad as before (probably due to the non-impact nature of weightlifting). This time, though, I’m prepared. Through a link on the excellent women’s weightlifting site stumptuous.com, I learned of various things that could be wrong with my knee, and of a therapy, active release technique, that could help. And, lo and behold, there are practicioners in my city who take my insurance. So, what the hell?
I went for my first appointment Tuesday, and was duly dressed down for my shoe choices (as I knew I’d be — I’d come in there in flip-flops). More importantly, the doctor showed me that my flat feet and wobbly ankles had not only affected my knee, they’d thrown my entire pelvis out of alignment, and, yes, that was affecting my back. Oh, and I have bursitis in my hip.
The technique involves a great deal of poking and prodding and massage to break up adhesions and scar tissue and allow the soft tissue to heal. Unfortunately, breaking this stuff up involves tearing the tissue a bit so that it can heal properly. And that hurts.
I’m pretty stoic about pain, but, Mother of God. It hurts like hell. And the pain goes from the hip/buttock all the way down to the knee along the iliotibial band — which is a muscle you may never realize you have until it hurts. And it hurts.
The good news is that the therapy is making some progress — I’ve only had two sessions, but each time, there’s been a marked improvement by the end of it. The bad news is that it hurts like hell.
Which I think I’ve mentioned.
But with luck, I won’t have to do this for more than a month of twice-weekly sessions. And it seems to be poised to actually fix my problems rather than just put a patch on them. They were only going to get worse if I ignored them.
Now, about the shoes: I went out and bought some Merrells at Shoemania right after work the first day of therapy (good: they were having a sale. Bad: the salesman directed his attention to my tits, and their selection of size 11s was limited). They’re already having an effect. Unfortunately, one effect is blisters as I readjust to closed shoes. Another is that it appears my boss thinks they’re ugly, considering the look he gave them.
I’ve never been someone who wore heels, in part because I’m already tall enough, in part because they hurt, but mostly because I got a good look at the results of wearing high pointy shoes all day in the shape of my mother’s feet. Good lord, were they a mess. She had really, really dry skin (which wasn’t caused by the shoes but didn’t help their appearance), and her toenails had gotten mashed into thick, clawlike things that frankly used to scare us as children. She had hammertoes and bunions, and the muscles in her calves had shortened so that she had a hard time wearing flats. She was embarrassed by her ugly feet, and so mortified about getting her first pedicure when I bought her a gift certificate for one that she made me come with her (the woman had seen much worse, and Mom got hooked).
I thought I could escape such problems by wearing flats. Surprise!
So now I have to re-adjust my shoe buying habits. And it’s not easy finding shoes that are both supportive and look decent with a suit, let alone are supportive and cute. But now that I understand the damage that I’ve done to my body (and the level of pain it takes to heal that damage), I can never go back to flip flops.
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- Hipsters v. Yuppies, Another Manufactured Conflict by zuzu May 17, 2006