I have to watch my step—literally.
My left knee has become the latest part of my body to go the fritz, joining my lower back and my left shoulder. I’m starting to feel like a rundown old Buick.
This most recent aggravation started a few weeks ago when I ran to catch a bus and apparently twisted my knee.
The pain flared up a short time later and I immediately switched into denial mode, hoping the discomfort would magically disappear one morning without any effort on my part.
This has been my standard approach to just about all my problems and, as usual, it didn’t work.
I finally gave into reality and acknowledged the pain, which comes and goes without any apparent provocation. Since I’ve been going to physical therapy for the back and the shoulder for the last several weeks, I figured I’d add the bum knee to my list of woes.
Cathy, my physical therapist, immediately diagnosed my problem.
“You don’t walk right,” she said. “I noticed that when you first walked in here.”
“I’ve been walking for over 50 years,” I said. “And now you telling me I’m doing it wrong?”
“You walk with your feet pointing out,” she said.
“Charlie Chaplin made a career out of walking like that,” I whined.
Cathy—who should consider becoming a cage fighter—laughed heartily and proceeded to crank my leg up toward the ceiling while digging her fingers along the length of my thigh.
This experience started off as uncomfortable and quickly worked its way up to agonizing. It felt like she was trying to pull the skin off the bone. I tried to keep the noise level down, but the pain got so bad that I finally had to let out a string of grunts and moans.
“You’re doing good,” Cathy said in the midst of my torment.
“I’m lying on my back writhing in pain,” I wailed. “I’m not doing anything!”
Step By Step
Cathy chuckled and continued with her tortuous task. When she finally finished she gave me some stretches to do at home and then actually showed me how to walk properly.
“Keep your feet pointed straight,” she said, “and walk heel-to-toe.”
This instruction was almost as painful as the treatment. Next she was going to tell me how to breathe.
I mean, if I’m going to have an injury, I’d like to have some exciting, manly story to go with it—like I hurt my knee playing football, or I twisted my leg fighting off a marauding grizzly. I’d rather not tell people that my knee hurts because I walk like a pregnant merganser.
My knee trouble is yet another reminder that I'm not as young as I used to be and that my body is staring to wear down.
I feel strange having to remind myself to walk properly every time I leave my house—heel to toe, with my feet pointing straight ahead. Anyone watching me must think I’m possessed.
The only good thing that I can say about this situation is that it’s forcing me to be more mindful. I’ve heard about walking meditations for years but I never really took the idea seriously.
I always believed that you couldn’t really be meditating unless you were all twisted up into a lotus position. But I have to say that nothing focuses you more on the present moment than having to watch each and every step you take.
I’m scheduled to go another round with Cathy this week and I’m hoping it’ll be a little less painful. I’d like to get this walking thing down while I still have a few good years left.
But until that time I’m going to keep on walking, heel to toe, with my feet pointing straight ahead.