Three years ago I didn’t run, simply because I couldn’t!
I was in the throes of hip-impingement agony.
In the weeks before my first arthroscopic hip surgery (on my left side) in July 2011, I was having trouble just going up the stairs! The thought of running again — at least the way I wanted to, which was long and hard and kind of fast — seemed like a pipe dream at the time.
But I never lost hope, even after I was told that I needed a second, similar surgery (on my right hip) just a few months later.
Fast forward to today. I am running almost the way I used to. I say almost, because I am a little older and a little slower. But I am out there several times a week running.
And so as I mark the sixth National Running Day on June 4th (It’s always held on the first Wednesday in June) I am so grateful for all the good care and support I have received in my recovery that has enabled me to be as healthy as I am today.
I run because I can. And I hope to be commemorating National Running Day with a brisk run in the park.
You can find out more about this event and the sponsored activities planned around the country by going to the National Running Day website.
I almost forgot that today marks the second anniversary of my second arthroscopic hip surgery, on my right side. (The left hip was scoped in July 2011.)
And except for an occasional slight discomfort in the left hip-groin area (usually after a longer- or faster-than-usual run, or an all-out, kick-ass spin class) I am, gratefully, feeling oh so normal.
My hip surgeon said it would take a full year to start to feel myself again. He was right, especially for the left side, which was a lot more damaged than the right.
While the first year for either side was spent essentially recovering from the surgery, the second year was largely devoted to rebuilding my fitness to the level (or close to the level) before I became injured during marathon training. And that includes routine 10-mile runs, and, yes, even plans for a half marathon.
For all of you “hipsters” at the beginning of this process, I just want to urge you not to lose hope. Yes, recovering from FAI (a k a femoroacetabular impingement) and be challenging, fraught with many triumphs and setbacks, it’s important to just forge ahead knowing that time (and vigilance) does heal.
My running club just posted a bunch of videos of a few members running in my town’s annual 8K Thanksgiving day race (that’s around 5 miles, in case you haven’t done the math). And they managed to capture one of yours truly – not exactly racing but still enjoying a somewhat leisurely run before the big feast later in the day.
In the years when I couldn’t run – just before and after my two hip scopes – I volunteered at this race, working on post registration. This year (and last year, too) I did both.
On this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought it would be fitting to list everything that I have to be grateful for – at least when it comes to my recovery from FAI, a k a femoroacetabular impingement:
1. My wonderful hip surgeon who repaired my two torn labrums and shaved down my bone spurs (which caused the problems in the first place).
2. His physician assistant who looked after me after the surgery and answered my many questions.
3. My fabulous physical therapist who helped to rebuild my strength before and after each of my two hip scopes.
4. My family and friends for their constant support during my very long ordeal.
5. My regular running buddies who gave me the motivation to keep going. (I’m now doing 10-mile runs!)
6. Anyone who has ever read or commented on this blog: It’s so nice to know that we are not alone.
I created this little haiku in honor of my favorite season for running. I am thrilled to be recovered enough from my two hip scopes, both back in 2011, to be out on the road and in the park and trails, with my old running buddies doing what I love most. Happy running!
Fading summer green ushers in a burst of red and orange and gold.
Vivid leaves hold tight because it’s time to show off, but only briefly.
The brisk autumn breeze shakes them, scatters them about, forming a blanket.
Runners and joggers hear the crunch, feel the cushion as they stride along.
Winds brush back their hair. Smoke from the chimneys billows Ahh, it smells so good!
Long-sleeve fleece will do. Everyone else needs a coat. That’s autumn running.
I ran 10 miles yesterday – my longest run yet since my first arthroscopic hip surgery, in July 2011. (The second was five months later.)
And so far – knock wood, fingers crossed, breath held – I am feeling pretty good. In fact, just for good measure, I took some anti-inflammatories and spent this morning doing my physical therapy stretches and exercises. I also plan to take a break from running for a couple of days.
It wasn’t a fast 10-mile run, mind you, but I covered the distance with relative ease on a gloriously cool and sunny Sunday morning with my old running/training buddy. Just like old times.
Interestingly, later this morning I received an e-mail from the Hip Preservation Registry at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which has been following my recovery, asking me to fill out another survey about my hip mobility and present condition.
“Can you bend down and tie your shoes?“ “Get in and out of a car without difficulty? “Walk at least a mile?” You betcha. But where was the question about running 10 miles?
The other milestone in my hip recovery was equally important: For the last several days I’ve been wearing high-heels to work!
I celebrated my birthday today with a vigorous eight-mile run – my longest distance since my first arthroscopic hip surgery, on my left side, in July 2011. (The second scope, on the right side, was in December 2011.) And other than some very slight soreness in my left groin area I’m feeling pretty good.
To many die-hard runners this might not seem like much in the way of distance, but it’s another milestone for me. For my birthday last year I only covered around three or so miles, but I was just as proud of that accomplishment, too.
My recovery has been slow and gradual, by design. For these past couple of years I’ve been testing the waters, so to speak, adding mileage or new activities. Then, forging ahead or backing off as my body reacclimates to being active again.
I’ve added hiking to the mix, and as you can see from my exhausted, celebratory pose in the recent photo above that was a success as well.
Exactly two years ago — and one week after my first arthroscopic hip surgery, on my left side — I posted this amateur how-to video on the proper way of maneuvering around with crutches after arthroscopic hip surgery. It was actually created for a grad school class I was taking at the time, but it’s gotten a fair number of views on YouTube. Maybe it might help someone today about to undergo a hip scope. (I watched it again myself after my second surgery five months later, and cringed a little at how awful I looked.)
The technique I used was from the physical therapists at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, where I had both hip scopes done. You can also read the directions here.
Exactly two years ago today I was in the hospital having my first arthroscopic hip surgery, on my left side (the right hip was scoped five months later), wondering if I’d ever be able to participate in all the activities that I so loved.
This morning – probably around the same time I would have been in surgery – I was in the park doing a leisurely three-mile run. I opted to take it a little easier after an active weekend of running, spinning, swimming, lifting and stretching.
Yes, I can report that there is life after arthroscopic hip surgery. Having my torn labrum repaired and the bone spurs that caused the tear in the first place shaved down, my pincer-type hip impingement has been fixed. And my surgeon has assured me that the chances of the bone spurs growing back and causing another impingement were slim to none.
But, as I’ve said before, this road to recovery has been a long, arduous one, filled with milestones and setbacks, frustrations and triumphs. My doctor told me that it would take a full year to be back to normal. For me, it’s taken two.
And I’m not completely back to normal, either. While I’ve been able to ramp up my mileage running and my workouts in general, I find that if I take it too far, too fast, my body revolts. That discomfort in the left groin area (my right side is back go normal) returns. It’s more of a dull ache, really, but just enough to let me know that I’ve overdone things. So then it’s back to the physical therapy exercises that helped me so much in my early recovery. Back to icing. And back to taking a day or two off.
Most athletes have experienced a “second wind,” that jolt of energy and strength that allows us, enervated and dispirited, to carry on. But sometimes our bodies cannot recover on their own – we need outside help so we can catch our “third wind.”
Get down on the floor on all fours, with hands firmly placed on the ground, shoulder-length apart. Back must be straight and head aligned with neck and back.
Point one arm out straight in front and extend the opposite leg to the rear. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then return hands and knees to original position.
Repeat movement using the opposite side. Complete 30 repetitions.
(Leg weights are optional.)
This exercise should be performed at least three times a week.