Bum, Knee

There is an old saying that you can't walk before running with pain. Maybe it's not an old saying. Okay, maybe it's not a saying, at all.

But, it's the truth.

Today was a remarkable day. I took my sore left knee and my bruised spirit to an Edmonton physiotherapist called Robert Syndenham on a recommendation from Shelagh. I have had pain and doubt since running in a 5k race on April 29. The course had a long, slow hill, but nothing that should have crushed me. But with a couple of hundred meters to go, that gnawing pain showed up on the outside of my knee. I ran longer with the pain than I should have, and have had trouble since that moment running more than 3 minutes without pain.

Syndenham conducted a few tests that left me dismayed. I couldn't resist the simplest of pressure applied to my left hand, I couldn't hold myself up on my left side. My left big toe collapsed when he pushed it. Gotta say, it was as humiliating as it was educational. This was the verdict:

But what I most remember, what I walked away with was a better understanding of how my legs work.
Here's the thing. The biggest muscle in the body is the bum, the gluteus maximus. But, as it turns out, I don't really use mine when I take a walking or a running stride. I use my hamstrings and quads instead, and that upsets the natural equation. And it means way too much work being done by my illeotibial band, and that manifests itself with that debilitating pain.

How do I learn to walk again?

That was the thought I juggled as I walked up and down the clinic corridor, consciously trying to fire my butt muscle with every step. I had to hold my butt to figure it out. He had to, too. What a scene! Trying to do what I have done without thinking. But I got the hang of it. Slowly. A couple of neck and back manipulations later, a couple of pops here and there, and I asked the question: When can I try to run again? I asked. I was expecting two weeks, a month.

You can run right now, he said.

So, I stopped at the Y to shower and shave before heading into work, and I ran for 20 minutes without pain. What a great feeling. With each step I thought, butt, butt, butt, and with each minute in the bank, I felt more confident.

Every now and then I would relax the muscle,  and I could feel all the pressure of the descending step collecting in my knee. It was thrilling to experience how some knowledge properly applied made life better in my little corner of this Thursday.

Only Kaiser Soze felt better walking away.


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