When did I first feel the real pain? A big part of my yoga practice were my “dessert” poses. After I had warmed up with dozens of poses that you might find in most yoga asana books, I would finish my practice with contortions that you’d easily see as standard fare in a carnival act. Legs behind the head, shoulders and arms circling the body like intertwined jump ropes, knotting my legs into lotus pose while in the middle of a handstand, splits of every variation.
Aha, those splits. Those lateral splits. Every damn day I would do lateral splits like a gymnast, sliding my legs apart from one another until at a certain predictable angle the inside of my left hip would audibly POP. There it was, every single day, that familiar pop. That pop caused no pain, but it was not a normal sound. Sure it was “normal” for me, but since it caused no pain, I literally let it slide (well not really slide), I let that joint distract and readjust to the overloaded pressures I enforced day after day, month after month, year after year.
Once I’d reach 180˚ I would roll through like a gymnast or a Solid Gold dancer.
When did I first feel the real pain? I binged on dessert poses every day…much like I used to binge on food when I was bulimic in my late teens. That hip “pop” was an indicator that I was damaging my hip. I was sliding the femoral head way out of range. It was during that time that I probably began a deformation process that led me where I am today. But my need to stretch and do my routine was my crutch of safety. It dulled my anxiety and acted as a bridge between my eating disorder and owning and sensing my body again. The demons I ran from inside my head told me to fold, breathe, lengthen, pause, breathe, twist, bend over, lighten up, breathe and rest.
When did I first feel the real pain? I remember a beautiful rug in my father’s living room. It was a giant red circle with yellow and white flowers stitched into its matrix. It looked like a mandala and was a perfect space for me to practice every morning whenever I visited him. I remember one day, at age 15 or 16, I was doing my yoga there, and he came in and sat down on a chair near me and watched. He stared at me un-blinking while self-consciousness filled me. Why was he staring? I tried to ignore him and used my practice to wall him away and slither further into myself.
He finally spoke, “we really need to talk about your obsessive compulsive need to stretch.”
When did I first feel the real pain? I had an on again off again nagging pain that began 7 years ago on the outside of my left hip. My tensor fascia latae muscle would spasm during sleep and it would feel sticky after I sat for long periods of time. Cars and planes were the worst. But a visit to my Physical Therapist, Sean Hampton helped me clear up the imbalance of my glute strength on that left hip, and I was able to “manage” those spastic spells over the next several years with a daily regime joint stabilizing strength work and rolling.
I had a hunch that I might have a labral tear when I started to feel the head of my femur shifting with no borders when I loaded that hip in certain ranges (flexion coupled with adduction.) The golf ball shape of the femur would grind against the acetabulum and make the sound of a giant emery board. None of this shifting was painful, but I knew it was NOT normal.
While I also knew there were issues in that hip, I refrained from having any imaging done until I had as many children as my husband and I could make at our advanced ages. I was 40 when we tragically lost our first child during my 20th week of pregnancy, so I was not keen on having a diagnosis that might emotionally encumber my fertility and my resolve. My determination to be a mother was stronger than any hip spasms. I was clear that the most important thing in my life was to make life and nurse my children for as long as they wanted.
Now, two children later, at the age of 45, it is me who was in need of the nurse. And the doctor. And I needed to relieve myself of this distressed bone. It has served me beautifully, but it was no longer a model of health, and it was time for a remodel.
If you missed part 1 of this article, go here… and stay tuned for Part 3 where I reflect on surgery and rehab, and you can follow my hip journey on social by using #TheRollRemodel.
*By the way… I have retired every one of these poses from my practice.