Walking Upright

on September 30, 2011 in Misc

My left thigh feels like someone took a bat to it.

My left hip and lower back on my left side feel bruised too.  But the most painful, tender part is the top and back of my left thigh.

Did I have an injury, you wonder?  Did I foolishly overwork myself in a burst of frenzied exercise?

Nope.  Yesterday morning my left leg and lower back got worked over by the toughest sports massage therapist in the Rocky Mountain region.  At least that’s my opinion of her.  She’s also a serious hiker, a shaman trained by shamans in Peru (I am not making this up), and the spiritual guide to more than a few CEO’s in both Colorado and southern California.

For almost two hours, this woman dug – and I mean DUG – with ferociously strong fingers, hands, and elbows into the body parts I described above.  That’s because I told her what had been bugging me and within seconds of touching my said parts she diagnosed what ailed me.

See, off and on for a couple months now my lower back has ached when I walk for more than about ten minutes.  And I have a strong back and abs, so this didn’t make sense.  And ‘course you know how I’ve written here that stretching and getting very limber has been part of my Layla routine.  Well, after making some good progress for a while, I started regressing.  For the last couple months just sitting cross-legged kinda hurt.  A tendon in my upper left thigh would twinge painfully with nearly any kind of outward movements.  Anyway, these and a couple other really bothering symptoms made me figure that for all my stretching there were some bunched-up, tight muscles in me that were holding me back and making me hurt.

Turns out I was right.  And finding this out  made me feel better about spending $120 I could ill afford and for which I won’t be reimbursed by my health insurance.  But dang, this sport therapist/shaman was worth it!  She described the little muscles in my thigh and butt that were drum tight even as she pressed down mercilessly and rubbed and pushed while I tried not to gasp and squeak and squirm in agony.

Oh, and about my tendons in that area – they were rock hard, she explained, which isn’t good because they should be supple.  But my muscles’ tightness and other factors had cut off circulation to the tendons, rendering them rigid which can create all kind of problems.  And this tendon that was over here was supposed to be over there, and she had to push it back into place, and gosh darn wasn’t that an interesting sensation.

But here’s the real revelation:  you know why I had this leg/ hip/ back problem to begin with?  Why I’ve always been tight in certain places and no amount of stretching would loosen me up?   BECAUSE I DON’T WALK CORRECTLY!

That’s right, folks.  Despite my self-image of having good posture and being fairly athletic, the way my left foot rolls outward and a couple other details about my gait (she had me walk back and forth in front of her) have screwed up my body.  And the frustrating thing is, I’VE BEEN WALKING LIKE THIS SINCE I WAS A KID!  I know this because even when I was very young the heels of my shoes would always wear down on the outside, especially on the left.  Sound harmless to you?  Well, it’s NOT!

And I know this therapist is right because already my hips and leg, despite the bruising pain she inflicted on me, feel looser and better and that sharp tendon twinge is gone.  I’m also relieved to learn that there’s a medical, logical reason behind my body’s inability to truly stretch in a few specific positions.  Now I might finally make some progress.

All I have to do is break a life-long bad habit and learn to walk properly and get into the particular stretching classes she strongly recommended and which are run by a guy who’ll be able to tell me when I’m screwing up my body parts.  That’s all.

Piece of cake.

4 Responses to “Walking Upright”

  1. Ben says:

    Dang! That suuuucks that you have to re-invent your walk! At least you found the problem, though!

    I’m afraid something similar to that might be wrong with me… my knees always hurt. It makes me feel like I’m 80. I think i might need new shoes, do stretches, or something different. All I know is that walking around for 6 hours a day serving in a restaurant with platform dress shoes isn’t helping my knees at all. :P

  2. Helena says:

    Ben – Your knees alway hurting is definitely not good. One of the reasons I didn’t know anything was wrong with my walk (mostly I let my left foot roll outwards and a tiny bit shorter right leg tips my hips) was because only recently did I have symptoms of pain; all the other symptoms were mostly tightening of muscles and tendons I didn’t know I had. If you have health insurance or are under your parents’, try to see a good doctor about your knees or at least a sports therapist. Tolerating pain for too long can often mean a person can be aggravating an injury. And I don’t want to worry about you!

  3. Ciara Knight says:

    So many people have an improper gate. I know I do. One leg is just a hair longer than the other on me. No joke. Not that anyone would notice. I’m glad you figured out the problem and hope you feel better soon. Wow, sounds like she got a little aggressive.

  4. Helena says:

    Ciara — Aggressive? Oh, she got aggressive alright! But hey, she fixed me and stuff is working now. She also said that one leg slightly shorter than the other is fairly common, so your own leg lengths are certainly no joke. When I was about 11 my pediatrician diagnosed my right leg as being 3/8″ shorter than my left, so for the next few years I wore a 3/8″ heel inside my shoes on the theory that evening out my legs would keep my spine from going crooked during my upcoming growth spurt. Whatever. I guess I grew up okay, and I consider myself lucky because whatever muscle/tendon/walking problems I have now can be fixed by exercises and a freakishly strong sports therapist.