I am back from the West Coast! The rundown of our vacation:
- visited three states – California, Oregon and Washington State
- Saw the SF Giants play in their beautiful ballpark on a day with perfect weather
- Walked the entire city of San Francisco, CA
- Saw some incredible Redwood trees in Muir Woods, CA
- tasted at three wineries in the Napa Valley, CA
- drank/ate at four breweries – 21st Amendment in San Francisco, CA, Fat Head in Portland, OR, Deschuttes in Portland, OR and Full Sail in Hood River, OR
- Attended one wedding in Stevenson, WA and one bachelor party in Portland, OR
- Hiked trails in Oregon, saw Mt. Hood, and drove over 800 miles in a rental SUV
- Ate some kickass donuts in Portland, OR at Voodoo Donuts
Needless to say, this was a very active trip. We were walking constantly, and the days of high activity vastly outweighed the days that were more typical of a “vacation.” We were out there for more than a week, but it felt even longer than that. I think we missed our cats a little too much because at the end of all of it, we were ready to get back to our normal routine! …
Except, that isn’t possible. At least for a few months. That’s because I am on crutches for the next three weeks.
What happened!? Did you fall into Crater Lake?
No no. I have had “sore hips” as far back as I can remember. In high school, I attributed it to just not running enough (because what O lineman likes to run?!), or maybe it was because my football camp was hard and I was overworked (it was VERY hard). My coaches in High School and College would always say there is a difference between being hurt (you are in pain but still can practice and play) and being injured (you have to shut it down). And I agreed with this. I still do. I wasn’t injured, it just was not comfortable to run, or to squat too often. So I tried to push through the soreness, and I did. I never missed any time for hip pain, and I’ve been working out consistently ever since. But as an adult, the soreness has remained. The more I learn about mobility and “normal” range of motion, the more I realize my hip function is anything but normal. I had little internal rotation of my right hip, and I could feel grinding and popping in both hips. I often walked with my toes pointed outwards. I didn’t shift my identification from hurt to injured until 2012, when I developed a sharp pain in my left hip. I couldn’t sprint, stretch or squat without serious pain. An MRI revealed a torn labrum. The labrum is a piece of cartilage that adds stability in the hip joint. It doesn’t have a good blood supply in the body, so it doesn’t heal on its own if injured the way that muscles do. It wasn’t really possible to tell how long it had been torn, because many people with torn labrums are asymptomatic. I rehabbed it, and developed awareness of the underlying condition that I had. Knowing what was wrong allowed me to structure my training to account for the hip. More recovery, less volume, more emphasis on posterior chain, etc. I set new personal records in pretty much every lower body lift.
But it wouldn’t last
The problem with structural weakness is two fold:
- The site of the injury will be tender and painful, and can flair up for the smallest reasons like shirting in a different direction, or 1 rep with less than perfect technique
- Your body will always find the least painful, most efficient way of performing the task – this is usually referred to as a “compensation” – this can cause problems with the surrounding muscles and nearby joints
I overdid my lower body volume in 2014, which led to a nagging problem in both my knees. One knee hurt, but had a clean MRI, while the other knee had tendinitis, likely due to compensations from my hip problems. The worse knee was actually on my “good” hip, or so I thought was my good hip. I bounced around a few doctors, finally deciding to see some specialists in NYC. It turned out I have femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) in both hips, as well as two torn labrums. FAI is basically a misshapen head of the leg bone (cam impingement), joint socket (pincer impingement), or a combo of the two (mixed impingement). A lot of medical professionals believe FAI causes the labral tears, because the irregular bone shape causes excess wear and tear from friction. For people who follow the NY Yankees, this is exactly what Alex Rodriguez had, and it is becoming quite common among athletes these days. The exact causes of FAI aren’t 100% certain, but there appears to be a couple of strong possibilities:
- People could be born with it
- Early specialization in sports may lead to too much repetitive motion, which could affect bone development
- Poor mechanics
I don’t know how long I have had FAI, but I decided that now was a good time to address this issue so I can train how I want to train in the future. I was told I would be a good candidate for hip arthoscopy, so I scheduled surgery on my right hip for July 8th. The procedure consisted of shaving down the bone to fit better in the socket, and repairing the labrum. It went well, and I am already on my way to recovery. I should be full go again in about 3 months, and I can then make the decision if it makes sense to have the surgery on the other hip in the future. For now, I am getting used to crutching around – my Dr. wants me on crutches for 3 weeks. It is definitely an adjustment, but I am doing the best I can. I am also very thankful I married a wonderful woman who is willing to take care of me while I am unable to walk around.
What does this mean for the site?
Nothing! I will be posting as much regular content as my hip allows. Check back in a few days for the next post!
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