Friday, November 19, 2010

Physical Therapy

Quick history: 2007 moved up to Colorado having shed about 20 pounds from my heaviest, still hefting around over 200; 2008 finally started combining weight training, cardio, and calorie reduction and dropped another 50 pounds over the span of about 9 months. Early on in that process, I found my left knee was really painful and had to stop doing the track for several weeks before resuming. I assumed it was just joints supporting too much weight while jogging.

Fast forward to Sept. 11 2010 and the Red Rocks 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, walking the amphitheater steps 9 times around to approximate the 121 floors of the WTC. Legs are wobbly but not too bad at finish. Middle of the night, pretty bad. Next day, 8 mile hike to Chicago Lakes, rated difficult with some wicked climb/descent/switchback combinations. Halfway through, the knee is toast. Laying off of it does improve the pain somewhat, but at odd times it starts to lock up and becomes incredibly painful to move. With the next and possibly last Disney trip looming, with days of hard core walking (average is 6 miles per day) I decide it's time to get some help.

The doctor orders an MRI which shows some deep tissue swelling and suggests a diagnosis of ILBT syndrome. This is basically a catch-all for saying, there's something wrong and its connected to the large triangular muscle running down the outside of your hip to your knee.

Enter physical therapy.

Carrie spends the first session taking measurements and being puzzled as to why my right knee is more offset than the left and yet it doesn't hurt. Maybe it's because my left side is slightly longer than my right and takes more pounding. Maybe it's because for three years now I've been inconsistently weight training groups of muscles incorrectly and exacerbating the tightness of the muscle that is binding the knee and pulling it off track. Good news: totally treatable and quickly -- I won't be running people down in an ECV at Disney World after all.

She is amazed at how tight my kneecaps are. Turns out, you're supposed to be able to reach under the kneecap and have some movement there. Guess whose doesn't budge? So at the end of the first session she spends some time pulling on the left one to start to loosen it up.

By session two, I'm learning exercises to strengthen the muscles needed to keep the kneecaps aligned. I'm also learning I tend to overcompensate for the pigeon-toed childhood by pulling too much with the outside of my feet instead of using the balls of my feet properly. I'm to stay away from the leg press machine from now on and use the hip abduction machine correctly (which I wasn't.) I'm also watching Carrie's face wincing in pain as she yanks on both kneecaps for minutes at a time, and I am suddenly appreciating my high tolerance for pain. It really isn't bad at all. End of session two today was Kineseo-Taping, which is pretty interesting. It's not pretty, but it's fascinating that the kneecap is tending toward the very light pressure of the tape on the interior of the knee instead of rotating outward where it's causing all the trouble, or as the website says, the tape will "re-educate the neuromuscular system." Does it actually work? We'll see. But if you'd told me pulling on my kneecap for a few minutes would alleviate weeks of pain, I wouldn't have believed that either.

So for the weekend, I've got the Signs crop circles going on.


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