No pain, no cane

Okay, so I’m not really off the cane completely — just thought it made for a fun title.

But here at the four month mark, I use my cane sparingly, and mainly only for long walks. If going out to the store or to therapy or what not, I’ve stopped taking the cane with me.

I’ve reached milestones: Up to two miles walking (with a cane), and up to 1/2 mile without the cane. Yes, marathons are just around the corner. I just know it!

In therapy, a certain exercise called “monster walking” has been giving me fits. Monster walking involves strapping a big rubber band around my knees and taking “giant” steps forward, with front foot slightly off to the side, slowly planting my feet and working on engaging my hip muscles before completing each step. I do this forwards and backwards. It was, shall we say, monsterly painful at first, but the other day I defeated said monster and did all reps without pain.

My last exercise in a therapy session is usually “scooting” around on a rolling low stool, digging my heels in to pull forward, doing two laps around the therapy clinic. This asks much of my hamstrings, and I used to have to stop and rest often. But yesterday I completed two laps with only one rest stop. Yes, doing a double century this way is obviously the next progression, dontcha think?

I practice leg balances, and they’ve been painful at the “launch” (lifting up my left leg to balance on the right), until yesterday that is, when I reached balance without pain. Too bad I was only able to do that once. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.

My therapist is always harping on me to use my core muscles when exercising, to “squeeze my butt” and work those quads and hip stabilizers. Therein lie the last holdouts it seems — those persnickety hip stabilizers.

I’ve started taking yoga classes again — regressing all the way back to the intro series at the Yoga Pura studio, square one. Intro class gives me a chance to slowly reintroduce those ol’ familiar poses, and to discover just where my limits are. Until recently, those limits looked pretty darn narrow. Just about any warrior pose with right leg forward has been difficult, and a non-painful runner’s lunge seemingly remote. Downward dogs have been passable, but often cause my right knee to hurt, for some reason. (One of my therapists says it’s due to weak quads.)

The initial novelty of going back to yoga class wore off after a few sessions, with reality of lingering injury smacking me in the face. That is, until yesterday, when I was finally able to do downward dogs with minimal pain — and to even do three-legged dogs, even three-legged planks, and even fire hydrant pose. I surprised myself with the latter. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that would be feasible yet.

So I guess I’m slowly gliding towards normality. One of the problems now is my right knee. To counter this, I’ve discovered I can use the elliptical trainer quite easily, and if I ever start indoor “spin classes” like I keep threatening, these two exercises should eventually solve the knee problems.

What about cycling outdoors? Well, I could do that now,  but I’m going to wait. I’m still not sure if and when I’ll be doing any outdoor riding, or in what capacity. I’ll let these things come about the way they want to, and see what happens.

I did experience a bit of wistfulness the other day when the Moon Valley group came rolling by as I was out walking the dog with my wife. The Bullshifters amongst the group all yelled hello as they rode past, and I wished I could have gone with them …

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