Hip Arthroscopy: 1 Year Post-Op

This update is a long time coming, but even though I’m actually 16 months post-op, I’m calling it a one-year update.

Keep in mind for everything below – before my injury and surgery, I was extremely active. This meant working out in a gym 4 days per week, in addition to multiple recreational sports leagues (flag football, dodgeball, volleyball, etc.). Three months after my surgery, I moved to Germany, meaning my activity level has changed. I am not participating in sports and I don’t workout with free weights like I used to. I do, however, maintain an active lifestyle in other ways, which I’ll describe below. What this means is, I still don’t know how my hip will handle playing football, for instance.

Day-to-day, I typically feel pretty good. There are still days when I can tell that my hip isn’t in its out-of-the-box condition, but most days aren’t like this. And when I do get a day like that, I’ll stretch a bit extra, or move my hip around to warm it up before I get out of bed in the morning. To be honest, it looks like I’ll have to live with days like this; and I’m ok with that, as long as I can still maintain an active lifestyle close to what I had before. I’ll deal with soreness if it means I can play weekend-warrior sports at my previous level. And I’m hoping to find out soon, as I’m moving back to the US this fall!

As for my activity level over the past 10 months, let’s just start by saying that things are different in Germany than they are back in the US:

  • For starters, I ride my bicycle everywhere, and even did a 30km ride in Switzerland (well, ok, I walked for significant portions of it, but that was to do with my legs not being used to such distances and hills, and nothing to do with my hip).
  • I gave walking tours almost daily that required me to walk on cobblestone streets for up to 2 hours at a time (which felt absolutely fine in good sneakers, though some low-quality shoes bothered my hip a bit).
  • And I did a lot of hiking, since it’s basically a national pastime in Germany. These weren’t long hikes, mind you, but anywhere from a couple kilometers to as many as 10km in a single day. And not always on flat ground. In fact, last weekend, I hiked between all 5 towns in Cinque Terre, Italy. And now the best news – I rarely have any problems with my hip as a result.

To sum up my condition at 16 months (and 12 months, really), I’d say this: If I didn’t care about playing sports at a competitive weekend warrior level, I’d by 95% satisfied. I feel like I can say that my life will not be negatively impacted by my injury. I walk, hike, ride my bicycle, and lift things when needed, and generally move around without problem. The missing 5% stems from the fact that there are still the days when I have soreness that didn’t exist before, as I mentioned above.

But as I also mentioned above, I’m still waiting anxiously to see how my hip responds to high-impact sports. But that’s an update that will have to wait a while longer, unfortunately.

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!

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Hip Arthroscopy: 6 Months Post-Op

Today is the 6-month anniversary of my surgery, so I believe it’s time for an update.

Overall, I continue to feel better, though I am disappointed that I still have discomfort in my hip.  I figured by 6 months that this would all be behind me, but that is simply not the case.  From reading others’ experiences, it can often take longer than the doctors say to feel fully back to normal, so it’s not as though I’ve lost hope for a full recovery – I just wish it was happening faster.

I experienced a setback at around four and a half months post-op after I did a workout that involved some low box jumps (6 inches or so).  At the time, I had been feeling great.  Probably close to 85%, as best I could tell from my currently less-active lifestyle (remember, I recently moved to Europe, so I do a lot of biking, walking, and hiking, but I am not playing any sports at the moment).  Unfortunately, my hip pain/discomfort flared up after the box jumps and lasted nearly 2 weeks.  It wasn’t as though I couldn’t walk; in fact, I was still riding my bicycle.  But I found that my hip was always bothering me during that time.

It was a little unsetting, thinking, “Man, I was feeling pretty good, then when I do something mildly impactful, it sets my hip off again.”  To be honest, it made me wonder what would happen if I tried to play flag football, or volleyball, or some other high-impact sport.  I am hoping to find out sometime soon, if I can find a reason to go run around a bit.

It hasn’t been all gloomy though – I recovered from the setback, and the last few weeks have been much better.  I would estimate that most of the time I feel like I’m at about 90% (again, in a non-sports lifestyle).  Some days I’ll be more sore than on others, such as the day after we built all our new furniture from IKEA.

Currently, I still see myself on a positive trajectory, but I certainly wish it was faster.  I am concerned about how my hip will respond to playing sports though.  I wonder if it’s something that will hurt the first time whether I did it at 4 months or 12 months.  Maybe it’s one of those things that will have to be eased into no matter how much I let my hip heal first.

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!

Hip Arthroscopy: 4 Months Post-Op

Today is the 4-month anniversary of my surgery for FAI and a torn labrum in my left hip, so I think it’s time for an update:

The path of my recovery has not changed much since my last post, but I think that is news in itself.  There are ups and downs, but the overall trajectory is constant improvement!  Some days are really good, some days are just good.  Compare that to one month ago when some days were good and some were just ok, and one month before that when some days were ok and some days I was using crutches, and I’d say my hip and I are going places!

Actually, the last 5 days or so have probably been the best since my surgery.  I sometimes feel a tight groin still, but other times I walk or bike around feeling totally normal.

My activity level in the last few days has been as follows:

  • I am now biking and walking everywhere, as I just purchased a bike.
  • At the gym, I am now doing the one-legged squats that I mentioned in an earlier post without weight, light-weight leg presses (I could do more weight, but there is no reason for me to push it), and some controlled jumping around (I can’t really find a good picture of this, but basically, jumping side-to-side from one leg to the other).
  • I actually feel like I could go play sports, but I’m not sure how my hip would feel afterwards.  That is something that will have to come much later, as I don’t really have access to organized sports currently.
  • Finally, I continue to do these basic hip exercises.

Just wanted to share that I’m still progressing!

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!

Hip Arthroscopy: Post-Op Exercises

I’ve gotten a few questions regarding what exercises I am doing even when access to a gym is limited, so in this post, I will finally be answering those questions!

I began the following exercise regimen about three or four weeks after surgery.  At the time, these exercises were the only things I was doing with my hip, but I continued to do them throughout the rest of physical therapy, and I still try to do them at least once every day.  Usually I do them when I wake up, before I even get out of bed – they’re that easy (at least when you’re not immediately post-op)!

Please note: I am not a medical professional, so this post should NOT be taken as advice.  I am merely providing details of my own experiences.  You should talk with your doctor or surgeon before beginning any exercise program.

1) Heel Drags – lay on your back with your legs straight, then drag one heel towards your butt.  The end position should look like this:

Heel Drags

Heel Drags.
Photo credit: carrotsncake.com

2. Leg lifts – lay on your back with one leg straight and the other bent (foot on the floor), and slowly lift your straight leg into the air:

leg lifts

Leg Lifts
Photo credit: everydayafs.com

3. Side leg lifts – same as above, but on your side:

side-lying-leg-lifts

Side Leg Lifts.
Photo credit: stayfitbug.com

4. Quad stretch – lay on your stomach and stretch your quad by pulling your foot toward you:

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch.
Photo credit: warrenkingmd.com

5. Side lunge – stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, and lunge to one side:

side-lunges

Side Lunge.
Photo credit: stronger-slimmer.com

And that’s all!  It doesn’t take more than a few minutes, but my hip feels good afterwards, so I keep doing it.

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!

Hip Arthroscopy: Month 3.5 Post-Op

The past few weeks have been somewhat irregular for me.  A week ago, I moved to an entirely different country, and I spent the weeks prior to that preparing for the move.  For that reason, I am no longer in PT, and my self-PT time has been limited.  That said, I continue to do some basic stretching and exercises almost every day (with more emphasis on days where my hip is bothering me), and I’ve even been able to work out a few times.

But what I’ve mostly done over the past week is walk.  Without a car or a bike in my new country, I would estimate that I’ve walked between 3 and 5 miles every day for the past 8 days, and I’m pleased to say that this is not really a problem (not for my hip anyway; my feet would say otherwise).  There are still ups and downs, but these days the “Ups” mean I can run down the street when it’s raining (carefully!) or walk up steep hills, and the “Downs” mean that I feel really stiff in the morning, usually on the days following running down the street or walking up hills.

It’s hard for me to say where I should be, recovery-wise, since I’m not at home doing PT and gradually returning to sports.  I feel that by now, I’d be doing some short- and medium-distance running, as well as some high-impact exercises like jumping, at least in a controlled setting (i.e. box jumps at the gym vs. playing volleyball).  I can say this confidently because I started to do these things in my last few days of PT before moving.

For me personally, this means that I may have returned to dodgeball, which has a late-summer season in Richmond, in August.  I’m not sure if I would have played flag football this fall; it truly seems like it could have gone either way (but we don’t have flag football where I am now).  Perhaps soon I’ll try soccer, but regardless of how my hip feels, my foot-eye coordination is sure to make it appear as though I’ve had surgery on every lower-extremity joint I posses.

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!

Hip Arthroscopy: Month 3 Post-Op

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, so here’s how things have been going:

  • I recently ran a half mile on the treadmill at a 10-minute mile pace.  I’m confident that my hip can handle running further, but two things have prevented me from doing so: 1) I seriously dislike running for distance, and 2) I’m in the middle of moving, so my gym time has gone down recently.
  • Since I like higher intensity exercise (i.e. playing sports instead of running a 5k), I pushed the treadmill to over 10 mph, and ran at that pace for 30-45 seconds.  I was too winded to go for longer, but my hip felt good afterwards.  It was certainly sore, but along the lines of what I would expect, having not run that fast in almost 3 months.
  • My PT gave me permission to start doing some jumping activities.  At this point, I think I can ease my way into sports, probably with some discomfort at the start (remember, my surgeon said from the beginning that it can take up to 6 months to feel normal again).  Being in the middle of moving, the availability of recreational sports is in flux.
  • My groin muscles continue to give me a little trouble, but I think it’s getting better.  If it is, it’s happening so slowly that it’s hard to tell, but I find myself wanting to massage/foam roll less frequently (not that I should).

I had my three month follow-up with my surgeon a week and a half ago, and had two main questions for him.

First, what is the discomfort in my groin and why does it feel like my hip needs to pop (which it did once, painfully)?  He said the discomfort is there because my acetabular rim is still healing, and couldn’t explain the popping, but wasn’t concerned.  Actually, typing out this post 10 days after that appointment, I realize I haven’t thought about the about-to-pop sensation in a week or so, so it seems to be subsiding.  (Fist pump)

My second question got a less satisfying answer.  I wanted to know how I could safely return to powerlifting, namely squats, deadlifts, and cleans.  His response was, “I don’t want to tell you what to do….but can you pick another hobby?”  I don’t think this is due to the FAI since I’ve seen people return to lifting after surgery, but due to the fact that my hips are slightly retroverted, meaning they point backwards instead of forwards.  My expertise here is limited (I have none), but I think because of the retroversion, I am literally limited in the range of motion I can achieve in my hips, which prevents me from safely performing these lifts when hip flexion beyond 90 degrees is required.

So that was a big disappointment, but I’ll have to find ways around it.  Here are a few exercises I can do that are similar to the lifts I should avoid:

  • Smith Machine squats, without getting to 90 degrees
  • One-leg squats, which allow me to better control the rotation of my hip, since I’ve only got to pay attention to one at a time (see picture below)
  • Hanging cleans, which I’ve done before

Basically, if it feels at all pinchy, I’ll stop immediately.  Here’s the pic of the one-leg squat:

One-leg-squat-3

My next post will probably come when I’ve started doing more lower body exercises, but as I mentioned, I’m moving and don’t have access to a gym at the moment.  I’ll keep everyone updated!

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!

Hip Arthroscopy: Week 11 Post-Op (Starting to Run)

Hi everyone, quick update today.

I feel my leg getting stronger all the time.  Here is a list of things I’ve accomplished since my last post:

  • On Tuesday, I walked at least a couple miles while in New York City, something I couldn’t have done just a week ago.  I was certainly a little sore the next day, but the walking wasn’t too bad.
  • I can go up and down stairs without the use of the handrail.  I’d say I do them about 90% normal (still paying attention to my form)
  • In PT on Friday, I ran for the first time in three months.  I started out by walking at a 20-minute mile pace on the treadmill (which was still faster than I’d moved since my surgery), then the therapist asked if I felt like I could jog.  I certainly wanted to try, so we slowly increased the speed to a 10-minute mile pace, and I ran for about one minute before stopping.  It felt really good to run, I must say, but it was also obvious I hadn’t done anything like it in a long time.  I was winded, and the muscles in my left leg fatigued quickly (I told my therapist it was like doing 30-lb leg presses with one leg and 90-lbs with the other).

Most mornings, my hip feels pretty good when I wake up, but it gets a bit sore/uncomfortable with the increased activity.  I’m hoping this is just my hip flexor, groin, etc. getting re-acquianted with normal use.  I’m still less than 3 months post-op, so I think it is still too soon to expect to feel great while exercising, but I’m hoping that comes soon.

I’m meeting with the surgeon on Monday for my 3-month check-in, I’ll post about it afterwards!

Are you recovering from surgery for FAI or a torn labrum, or considering it?  I’d love to hear how you’re rehab is going – feel free to post a comment or question below!