Pain on the trail – Hitch in the giddy-up

02 May Pain on the trail – Hitch in the giddy-up

Blisters, ankle sprains, strained IT bands, severe chafing – you name it, someone’s got it. And, remarkably, they are probably still crushing 10-20 up and down, in and out, rock and sand miles a day.

At mile 90 my right hip started killing me. Started as some sort of pinch or muscle spasm. It developed into a sharper pain as I pushed it another 20 miles. Taking 24 hours off in Warner Springs, I had some time to think about it. I really wasn’t sure what to do.

Other hikers were popping Ibuprofen daily, taping up blisters, or wrapping ankles. I’ve had plenty of injuries but never issues with my hips.

My thoughts ran wild. I scared myself into thinking my hip would dislocate. As the pain worsened while I rested, I feared my trip would be over before it really began. I was surrounded by wounded warriors though. There had to be a way to press on and get better.

It was simpler than I thought. Along with a daily dose of Arnica Montana, improving my stretching and strength routine in the mornings was the answer.

With both ankle and knee surgeries on my right leg, I have years of bad form that developed to protect those injuries during their respective recoveries. Most notably, certain quad and hamstring muscles don’t engage in my normal gait. This removes my knee as a spring as I walk and instead the impact travels directly to the hip. Almost as if my legs had a single  rod from foot into the hip joint.

I’d worked on this a bit with the instructors at San Francisco Crossfit in the past and had a few solid yoga exercises recommended to me prior to the trip.

Experimenting for about 6 hours with different stretches and exercises, I found the following to quickly reduce my pain at rest as well as during walking:

– Prisoner squats: all the way down and all the way up popping the hips forward at the top. Ensuring a tight stomach and core throughout.

– One Legged Airplane: Standing on a single leg and tightening core and leg muscles before bending at the hip and kicking other leg straight back as torso bends forward. With arms out to your side for balance you look like an airplane. Repeat without setting other foot down as many times as you can.

– Lunge Stretch: there is some proper yoga name and a different proper Crossfit name for this but I forget both. Essentially, you do a lunge and hold it bringing your arms up over your head into a slight backbend. Good to engage balancing muscles in both legs and ankles as well as stretch the front of the hip and its connections in your torso.

– Hip Openers: pick your favorite.

Ultimately, you’re pounding the heck out of your body and in most cases your body isn’t used to it. I figure the trick will be continuing a preventive routine morning, breaks, and night. I anticipate my body adapting positively to the type of work it’s doing daily but still always requiring some active rebalancing.

Out here in week one, misery has plenty of company. I’m far from alone.

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