Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's the standing, stupid

While working out last night, I was reminded of my lifelong disgust with myself for never being able to “get fit.” No matter how much I worked out, it seemed my leg muscles would never get used to exercise and my legs always tired quickly and started to ache.

When I lived in Colorado, in my 30’s, I walked 3 to 5 miles every day in my hilly neighborhood. Since I lived on a mountain this was also a way to see wildlife and enjoy the outdoors. I was already athletic so walking seemed easy in some ways – I didn’t get out of breath – but my legs hurt while I was walking and after. So I figured I needed to just keep walking and over time my muscles would build up to the task and the pain would stop.

I walked for 4 years, after buying the latest in cushioned walking shoes, and I walked on dirt trails which I realize now were softer and better for my hips than concrete, but my “muscles” never stopped hurting. The same thing happened if I went to an aerobics class, or did any kind of high impact cardio training. I cursed myself for being such a weenie and just did it anyway. I trained harder, hoping that would do it. I always wondered why everyone else was in better shape (meaning able to walk just fine) without even trying.

When I started skating again I had the same achy leg issues, but put them firmly in the back of my mind. It always bothered me that despite all of that exercise it never got better and I was still “out of shape.” When I tested or competed I had to be very careful not to warm up much so that my legs wouldn’t be “dead” by the time I performed. It was hard for me to reconcile that I just didn’t have any stamina in my legs, although my lungs were fine. I learned how to conserve my energy for when it was needed.

Last night I was doing some standing leg exercises. The leg doing the weight lifting was fine. But the leg I was standing on, putting all my weight on in fact, instantly had that same “muscle” pain and tiredness I used to get. I realize now based on the location of the pain that it wasn’t my muscles that were aching at all. It was my femur bone slamming into my acetabulum that was causing the pain, because my acetabulum doesn’t cover the femur properly. So, all my life, all of my weight has been borne by a very small part of the bone. No amount of training was going to make that pain go away. I just trained myself to ignore it.

I am glad the mystery is solved. It will be nice to some day be able to stand on my leg and have the weight of my body correctly distributed over a larger surface area so I won’t have that aching tired sensation. When both surgeries/recoveries are over I’ll be almost 50 years old, and if all goes well I may just be able to stand and walk normally for the first time in my life.


Kris, in New England said...

This is a revelation! I understand exactly what you are talking about with the pain you describe.

Since my diagnosis I've become so much more aware of my body and its various signals. Various types of pain.

This post is just incredible to me.

HipSk8 said...

I am so glad this blog is useful to a fellow hip chick. Hip Dysplasia is so rare, it's nice to know that others have shared my experiences and we are not crazy or lazy or any of those other things. Knowing "why" helps make sense of it all. Terri