Sunday, July 6, 2014

Progress Me Not (Yet)

I was at center ice working on mohawks and 3-turns. Each attempt was getting worse and my leg was screaming at me to stop. I would never progress a client until he or she was absolutely ready. Somehow, I wasn't applying that same rule to myself. My leg isn't ready.

My left hip bone is significantly lower than my right. It's because my left leg is always rotated in. To the untrained eye, off the ice it's imperceptible. To every eye, on the ice my leg looks crooked.

This is me in the Kid's skates. I'm not intentionally bending my left leg, 
that's my knee naturally caving inward and my foot pronating. 

Once I get my hips evened out and my leg straightened, then I'll be ready for turns. To do this, I need to lengthen muscles that are probably short and tight (those muscles turning my leg in) and strengthen muscles that are weak and not doing their jobs. I have to do this for my entire leg, but for the purposes of this post I'm going to give a snapshot of what I'm doing with my hip. (I'll hit the ankle later.)

To lengthen the muscles in my hip and thigh that are short and overactive, I'm using a combination of self-mysofascial release (SMR) and stretching; and, I'm hitting my hip flexors, piriformis and adductors. I do this every day.
  • Hip flexors - Hip flexors are muscles that originate from the spine and attach to the leg. They are responsible for hip flexion and external rotation, extending and rotating the lumbar spine and stabilizing the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC). I use a Trigger Point ball on my stomach to try to inhibit overactivity and pair that with static stretching (holding the stretch for about 30 seconds), often a kneeling hip flexor stretch (sometimes band-assisted.)
  • Piriformis - The piriformis runs from the sacrum to the femur and is responsible for hip external rotation, abduction and extension. My weak glutes have been causing this little muscle to work overtime. It hates me. I sit on a Trigger Point ball for a bit then do either a supine hip stretch or a table hip stretch
  • Adductors - Adductors are the inner thighs and they are responsible for hip adduction, flexion and internal rotation. I use a Trigger Point Quad Roller and static stretching

I'm doing a whole lot of butt work. On the ice, my glutes aren't strong enough to hold me up. You can see my adductors doing the work instead by the way my knee caves inward when I skate. This is what gives my leg a crooked appearance and it's ridiculously painful. 
  • Floor bridges and tube walking - These were the first exercises I did when I started the first round of physical therapy. Tube walking was especially helpful for turning on gluteus medius (the muscle on the side of the hip.)
  • Single-leg-this-and-thats - Bulgarian Split Squats (my favorite), single-leg squats, skater squats, single-leg RDLs, single-leg windmills, lunges in all three planes of motion. Oh...and this little gem. I do 'em all all the time.

And this folks, is just some of what I do for my hip. 

Some skating I can do using (mostly) the correct muscles - forward stroking, edges to a degree and, increasingly, backward skating and backward edges. I can do this stuff well enough that I can work on it on my own, stretch properly afterward and be relatively pain-free. But when I tried working on turns on my own, my butt wasn't doing its job. I should have stopped right away but I didn't. Because stubborn. And I paid for it for several days, feeling pain and enough weakness that even crossovers weren't happening the next time I skated.

So I'm regressing. I'll keep plugging away on the stretching and strengthening off-ice and on-ice I'll continue to work on those things I have the strength to do without aggravating my injury. Turns I'll do with Dmytri, but not on my own.

Not yet.


  1. I sympathize. My right hip is more open than my left. It's taken me months to get it better. AND I have snapping hips which is harmless, but so annoying.

    1. I've heard about snapping hips but, until now, never knew anybody who had them. That's gotta feel weird.

  2. Figure skating, gotta love it, is sure going to show you any hip weakness that you have. Looks like you have a ton of stuff you can do off-ice to move yourself forward even when ice is scarce this summer.

    1. Yeah, I'm keeping busy off the ice and I feel like I'm making really good progress. I worry about the pain returning once I get back to skating. Time will tell, I suppose.