Sunday, May 26, 2013

Walk This Way

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.


Ron said...

"“Charlie Chaplin made a career out of walking like that."

Bwhahahahahaha! Rob, that CRACKED ME UP! And what a GREAT answer to her!!!

I once overextended my right knee while performing STUNTS onstage when I was in Japan. I was doing THREE shows a day and not realizing that was overextending my knee because the stunt trainer never show me HOW to do the stunt properly. knee finally gave out and I had to wear a tight ACE bandage around my knee for the remainder of the run - OY! However, it did eventually heal.

"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."

Yes, I learned about walking meditations back in the late 80's and thought, "WTF!?!" After trying it though, I finally got the hang of it. It's kinda like walking in a state of acute awareness, but at the same time...being relaxed about it. And come to think of it, I need to try that the next time someone is walking REALLY slow in front of my and I get so aggravated, that I want to KICK them - HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Sending ya 'good vibes' for a speedy knee healing, buddy!

Have a Happy Memorial Day tomorrow!

Rob K said...

Wow, Ron, the gig in Japan sounds crazy--especially since they didn't train you properly!

You should blog about that experience; it sounds fascinating.

I know what it's like to get aggravated with all the slow walkers in the world, but I think the walking meditation is the best solution for both of us. Like the song says, slow down, we move too fast!

Thanks for the good vibes, buddy, and have a tremendous holiday!

Bijoux said...

For some reason, this post reminds me of the 'Keep on truckin' stickers of the '70's. Anyhoo, I'm sorry about the pain and hope the PT helps. I was lamenting yesterday with my brother-in-law about back pain and his wife piped in that we probably just don't walk right. Ok, Mom.......yes, I don't stand up straight, either!

Rob K said...

Hey, Bijoux: I love the "Keep on truckin'" stickers! They were all over the place at one time.

Thanks for your concern. Some days I believe that we don't do anything right with our poor bodies!

Take care!

CrystalChick said...

Oh, I hear ya on this one! My left knee gives me grief sometimes. It's manageable if it's not at the same time the tendonitis in my left arm is acting up while the herniated discs in my neck are doing their own thing.
Since I did yard work again yesterday, a few nerves and muscles aren't happy right now either.
And lets not even talk about my posture.

Hope you get good results with therapy!
I like the idea of walking meditation. :)

Rob K said...

Hey, Crystal, sorry about your troubles. I'm hoping the PT works and that walking meditation is helpful in the rare times I actually use it.

Take care!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Hahahahaha! You've written this in such an amusing way that I can't help but laugh, but it really isn't funny, is it? You don't walk right, I don't sit right. I can feel myself right now, in fact, with my spine all pushed out of shape...

As to walking, I've had to learn to walk better to avoid wrenching my ankles on a regular basis. And the only bit of advice I can give you is to buy a pair of barefoot trainers. They really REALLY help to keep you aligned and walking as you should. I am wearing my first ever pair right now, and they felt a bit odd at first but now they are blissfully comfortable and I walk better. I haven't sprained an ankle (touch wood) and when I run - which I never thought I'd be able to do, ever again - I can feel that I'm running properly, with the ball of my foot striking first, allowing the natural flexion of the foot.

Look it up on You Tube: 'barefoot running'. I didn't believe it was possible to run that way at first, but apparently it is the way to go. In fact, ask your physio - I'd be interested to know what she says.

Rob K said...

Hey, Jay, thanks for the tip! I just picked up a pair of new trainers, but I can also use a second pair.

I've heard good things about the barefoot trainers and they should really help in my boxing class. They're probably good for balance, changing direction, or in my case-running away!

Now sit up straight, girlfriend!!