It’s ironic, I’ve lived with chronic pain for at least 7 years…but didn’t know it.

A few months ago, I read the radiologist’s report of an MRI for my left hip. I had my hip scanned as I thought I had a torn labrum but the imaging told a different story. Labrum (the cartilage rim on the edge of the cup side of the hip joint)? What labrum? The joint is decimated. It looks like someone went in with an ice pick and chipped, flaked, abraded and destroyed my coxal (hip) joint.

  • Inflammation, check.
  • Osteoarthritis, check.
  • Bone cysts, check.
  • Chondromalacia, check.
  • Bone spurs, check.

My orthopedist further translated for me: I am a perfect candidate for total hip replacement.

Total?

My hip will be totally replaced.

When my orthopedist did a standard range of motion test on me, he rolled my right hip around in the socket like it was a pinwheel in the breeze. My left hip traced a similar path, but was 20% less the range. He contemplated out loud…”well, there’s your pre-existing condition right there.” We locked eyes and mouthed the words at the same time, “hip hypermobility.”

Inside my brain and body, I whisked through a timeline that scrolled through decades of dance, yoga, fitness and all the things I did to stretch myself into exhilarated states or mental quiet. I started to confess to my surgeon my own self-diagnosis of “overuse,” but cut my monologue off. He’s the fixer, not the detective.

But the detector in me is now on a new mission to sift through the decades of my life and identify moments of crisis where I think my movement patterns, or my emotional patterns pushed me to move to a threshold with such vehement regularity that I remodeled a hip that ultimately couldn’t survive the assault.

My therapist tried to stop me from further blaming myself for my chronic hip pain. “Perhaps it’s genetic,” he said. “No one in my family has had their hips replaced. I built this city,” I insisted. My pre-existing genetic condition was to move and stretch myself compulsively to stifle the emotional stresses I felt as a constant in my body. I’m not enough, not perfect enough, not smart enough, not nice enough, not pretty enough, not worthy. My yoga and stretching could quiet me like a quart of bourbon could silence my ancestors. It could take off just enough of the edge to get by. But I was building a new edge. I built an irregular surface with organic stalagmites and stalactites that mismatched one another. New body teeth that chewed through synovial membranes…the gums and saliva of my hip joint. My need to grind out my frustration wore a new pattern of tread into a hip capsule made fragile by multiple ankle injuries in my teens and twenties. My pre-existing condition was a belief that I could do more, be more and accomplish more if only I did more. More was more and I needed to move constantly upon that moor in order to survive my life.

When did I first feel the real pain? Somehow I was led to stop stretching myself from limb to limb around 2003/4. That was when I consciously named my work Yoga Tune Up® and pulled back on a practice of daily asana (yoga poses). I turned to anatomy texts instead of yogic texts for information. I started working on the particulars of my movements. I had to re-examine my addiction to stretching. My dependency on my yoga practice was shackling me to the mat and consuming up to 2 hours every morning, if I didn’t practice, I didn’t feel right in my skin. Going without my ritual left me feeling unhinged, irritable and anxious. My need to stretch was no longer expanding my mind, it had trapped it.

Tune in for part 2 of this series, where I examine the mysterious behavior of chronic pain. I ponder how imaging, diagnosis and embodied experience can often be completely out of step with one another.

Follow my hip surgery journey on INSTA or FB with this hashtag #TheRollReModel

Liked this article? Read It’s A Pain in The Core! Life After Spinal Surgery

 

86
Leave a Reply

 
85 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
85 Comment authors
Emilee

How relatable is this article to everyone? If I don’t workout today I will be less fit then the day before, if I don’t stretch I will be less of a yogi- or if I use props as a teacher, what kind of yoga teacher does that make me. So much blame and negative talk flows through our brains and Jill, your example hits so close to home. We ruin ourselves trying to be enough for our internal daily monologues. I have to practice what I preach sometimes, and if I learned anything at my YTU teacher training (which was… Read more »

Rudie Jimenez

It is scary to think about what we use as crutches some times. On the outside; not all ‘addictions’ look or seem unhealthy. But even in our movement practices, we need to be careful. We need to understand the motive behind our movement, and when we should scale back. Once again, thank you for your openness in sharing your journey.

BEVERLYN BAER

Thank you for sharing this, Jill. It’s because of your and other seasoned yogis’ openness and honesty about their experiences in their bodies with over-stretching that helped me see the light only a few years into my yoga practice. I don’t know what kind of damage I’ve done from ballet and jazz, and even those initial years of intense daily Ashtanga, but I’m glad that there is more information available now and that practitioners and teachers are opening up about what that kind of physical obsession can actually do to our bodies.

Laura Woodrow

Your story is all too common. So many seasoned practitioners with a dedicated practice have found themselves in similar predicaments. Thanks for shining light on this important issue.

Stephanie Ford

Hi Jill, I just had a total hip replacement two weeks ago. I was a professional ballet dancer and have been teaching yoga for 30 years. My surgeon said told me my yoga gave me another 20 years with bone on bone arthritis My dear friend , Joann Burhman suggested I contact you . I’ve listened to your podcasts and interviews, and share your story almost to the tee. It’s not easy. I’d love to hear what poses you retired and about your rehab. I had a rough two weeks, see my doctor tomorrow to remove staples and see how… Read more »

Mike

I didn’t realize hypermobility was thing, let lone that it can do damage on the body. Also thank you for sharing your emotional relationship with your practice through all of this. I often find that my reasoning for practicing yoga and pilates is to improve my mobility because I have that dangerous belief that “I am not [mobile] enough” (my goal is to have ninja-like mobility). It’s good to remember and believe that you are always enough, as you are, right now.

mary

Thank you for sharing your story in a very honest way.
We all tend to gravitate to poses we like and need to acknowledge our limitations.

susan

Thanks Jill for sharing your story. It’s humbling and inspiring that through our greatest challenges come the biggest transformations.
Congratulations on being able to keep your boat a float 🙂

Candice

Though it’s a bit less shocking to read this now compared with when I first heard your news of a need for hip replacement surgery, maybe a year ago or so, this message telling us to get curious is still so very needed in the yoga and fitness world! I sometimes worry that I’m not teaching ‘traditional’ yoga, and it’s deviating further from that expectation now that I’ve completed my YTU Level one course. I literally stop classes in the middle of a pose, give an exaggerated example of someone throwing their body into a form without using their innate… Read more »

Véronique Lamothe

Impressive!!

kaoline

Thank you for the candid article. Looking around my own local community, I noticed that one of the reasons why so many yogis are preoccupied by the yogic body image, is that they somehow tends to believe (without questioning, or doubting) that this is the path to follow and the mastering poses are the proof of their dedication. It seems they yearn for the accomplishment that temporary cancel out their psychological or emotional stress about self image. For yoga practice or any physical exercises, basic scientific knowledge is crucial. Yet even having that knowledge, we are often blinded by the… Read more »

Maki

Thank you for sharing your such personal insight “… stifle the emotional stresses I felt as a constant in my body. I’m not enough, not perfect enough, not smart enough, not nice enough, not pretty enough, not worthy” I relate to this “not … enough” feeling so much. Yesterday was the first day of YTU Level 1 Training. My Sankalpa was “I have enough Love and Passion for myself and others”. After I reading this article, a slightly different angle “I have enough Love and Compassion for others and myself” which brought me to teaching of Yama and Niyama.

Christina Klein

This article definitely made me think of how I could be contributing to my own bodies pain and down the line how important it is to learn from pain and experience in my own body. This also helps me understand my clients better and why it is so important to consider what activities are breaking down the body and which ones are building up the body.

xerco

our hip flexors are the engine through which our body moves. They control balance, our ability to sit, stand, twist, reach, bend, walk and step.
Everything goes through the hips.
And when our hip flexors tighten it causes a lot of problems in ordinarily healthy and active people, like us. so theres a list of specialised exercise that can help to strengh the muscle in that area and eliminate this problem. check it out https://bit.ly/2JtvV7L

Lorraine Gaston

I really admire your honesty with yourself and for sharing it with others. I think we all, tend to repeat and overdo certain poses depending on our body type but its worth us all taking a step back and asking ourselves why, and if it serves us in the long run.

Kat

Such a brave and candid account of how Jill ‘built this city’ in her own body.
It’s a great reminder that it’s not the end of the world to not be able to achieve the classical yoga positions and a wide reaching message to practitioners of all sports/fitness/movement that repetition is not always the best answer and variation is good practice.

Wendi

I love this article Jill! Shows how you went from being a slave of your body to a student of your body, something we can all learn from.

Marsela Suteja

Coming from dance background, we are trained to put our bodies in an unnatural shape. I’ve seen countless dancers with total hips and knees replacements. We were trained to stretch and overstretch every joints. One of the things that I found in YTU class is bringing it back to normal, human shape without over-stressing the joints.

Angelique

What an amazing post. I so appreciate the honesty and realism of this blog post. As a former dancer dealing with a problematic hip it’s very comforting to read about someone who has gone through this. For myself, feeling as well that I’m not quite enough…this is a reminder to me that I can’t fill that feeling with an activity or thought that doesn’t directly deal with the feelings that are problematic. Facing my fears head on, although scary is a more authentic response. Whether it’s food or shopping, drugs or working out excessively…these vices all act as a distraction… Read more »

Tanveer Bhutani

Hip replacement surgery is the procedure in which you can get rid of the extreme pain. Just check this link and get the further details on hip replacement surgery. http://orthocentreinindia.com/hip-replacement-surgery-in-punjab/

aleks meuse

I deeply appreciate the honestly and vulnerability. Especially coming from a trusting source for bio mechanics. I am left with the message regarding the cautions of yoga and how our current actions are sowing seeds not just for tomorrow but for decades to come. Thank you.

Erika Mills

Your honesty towards your reasons for changing your practice are inspiring. I am not hyper-mobile but have been dancing and teaching dance for over 30 years. I was driven by aesthetics which were not possible in my body but continued pushing nevertheless. I just completed the YTU teacher training level 1 and the anatomy component has been my saving grace. It has given me sound reasons for eliminating certain poses in my yoga practice and has calmed certain ambitions I know my body will thank me for.

Lexy Cann

This is such an interesting time to be a yoga practitioner/instructor. At 56, I feel so young in my body but, at a recent YTU training, “hyper mobile” was a description aimed at me every so often.
20 years of dance and a yoga practice started in highschool, along with a body built for stretch, has given me really flexible hips, though my left hip feels like it has speed bumps when I roll the glute medius. This blog post gives me pause….

Loren Altura

Your lifetime of pain ha not been in vain. You have created your life’s work from it and in doing so, helping and healing countless others. Blessings. Deep Bow! ????

Donna Layton

Great Article!

Haley Bevers

As as teacher and studio the biggest challenge is teaching someone who is hyper-mobile. I feel like yoga is undergoing a metamorphosis and certain generations are the guinea pigs to help the younger generations not make the same mistakes over a lifetime of a yoga practice. Yoga alignment is being refined and tailored more and more which is fantastic news for the lasting tradition of yoga in the states. It’s a constant challenge for a hyper mobile individuals to feel their edge in a pose because they are always looking for sensation and feedback in their physical bodies. Most of… Read more »

Jenna Mitchell

I am excited to read more.

Lorena

Thank you for sharing your personal story. This isn’t something we hear about everyday. It looks like you are on your way to recovery and hopefully your story will prevent others from doing the same damage. I’m sure we never think it could happen to us. We always want to be the best version of ourselves and push a little too far. I hope you have a full recovery!

Lindsey Rockett

Thank you for sharing, Jill! As a devoted yoga student/teacher with bilateral tears of the hip labrum and arthritis to boot, I can empathize with your journey and commend you for sharing. Truly, it’s been an inspiration to me as one of your new YTU teachers! Since I’ve started compassionately studying my tendencies to push and exploit my hypermobility, I can’t begin to tell you the number of clients/students that have crossed my path with similar injuries. It’s funny how that happens, right? My pain and struggle have made me an excellent resource and for that I am forever grateful.… Read more »

Heidi T.

Oh dear… I just read this AND heard your podcast with Andrea Ferretti, and recognised myself completely in your words …. including the hip pain- looks like mine is quite damaged too- I’ve recently dropped legs behind head poses and feel some relief already…. the over stretching, the addiction to mostly a strong practice (27 years of daily practice at this moment in time, from late teens), the obsessive compulsive need to stretch… the reliance on yoga to fill a void/escape something, the removal of oneself from a normal life ( I don’t do social things in the morning, EVER-… Read more »

Tune Up Fitness

You’re amazing Heidi, thank you for sharing this with me. Being aware where we were unaware is the first HUGE step…and happily, we’ve both taken it. I wish you all the best on this journey.
I will be in Australia teaching at Filex April 19-22, and leading my Roll Model Trainings on April 19 & 20. Registration will open for that soon. Hope to see you there!

Becky

A story that will stay with me as I move through my own body and teach others. Trying to find the balance between something that free’s us from one trap without putting us in another is a powerful message. What are we really doing? Why are we really doing it? To pause and look in the mirror and ask the hard questions is the ultimate practice I guess. Thank you for your openness.

shari Williams

hello my titanium sister! I’m looking forward to part 2. I can hardly believe you withstood the chronic pain. I couldn’t even walk by the time I had mine done and was on tons of medications! Anyone out there contemplating a hip replacement, don’t wait until you’re absolutely debilitated or your rehab will be much longer. stay strong in the gluteals, adductors and abductors. and don’t forget about the pelvic floor muscles! they all become weak. The yoga Tune Up (R) work has propelled me to a level with my yoga practice I couldn’t have imagined post hip replacements.

Mary

Fancy bullshit poses that are meant to look sexy in photos and impress other people IS. NOT. YOGA.

This apparently is hard lesson to learn even by so-called experts.

Ekaterina

How often the concept of just “moving your body” equals staying healthy. How superficial and general is it. Stories like the above one are real wake up calls. And you are lucky if you heard it sooner than later..

Corena Purcell

I am experiencing a wake up moment as I read this…I too use fitness as a tool to manage my angst. I, too am convalescing from a surgery and have lost my ability to tap into my “drug of choice” for 4 weeks. I’m apprehensive about what these days will bring for me. I suppose there is noting left to do but turn around a face some demons and wrestle them to the ground. Hulk Smash!!!