Last year I was training through the pain until finally I couldn’t ignore my knee.
My left leg had no strength, and no matter how hard I trained, or rested, or iced, my pain-free distances got shorter and shorter. My left knee was a hinge with no power to it. Finally, I paid for an MRI and a visit to the doctor who was convinced I’d a torn meniscus.
‘Your knee is fine. No pathologies,’ the doctor said.
‘Well, that narrows it down,’ says I. ‘Send me to psych!’
‘Not so fast,’ my quack fired back, and ordered me to go see a physio therapist. I presented to the next doctor in my trainers and running kit. I explained the injury, lied about my mileage, and then underwent the physical exam. I was asked to stand, lean and pose like a model. Then I went on the bed and was put in yoga poses while being told to resist or push. When on my right side, with my left leg behind me, I was asked to raise my leg and resist as the doctor pushed my left ankle downwards with two fingers.
My leg collapsed.
The physician offered a witticism and we tried it again with the same result. I could resist very comfortably with my other leg probably because it is my dominant side.
I shall let you look up Iliotibial Band Syndrome on your own, but basically, my stride is not perfect. My instincts are to use momentum rather than muscle to swing my legs forward. This resulted in a atrophied gluteus medius, or lower arse muscle. The result was that the fibrous band keeping the leg apparatus in good order got too tight. It pulled my kneecap from its grove as my leg muscles got bigger. The treatment is trivial: I do leg lifts of various sorts to build up and recruit the unused gluteus muscles. This evens my stride and I am now pain free.
The lesson here is that working harder and longer can cause atrophy in some areas despite overall strength. I am proud of my knowledge gained through various caregiving experiences. I like to think that despite my impatience, it’s an ethical thing to do and hopefully it makes me a good person. Besides, the are worse things to be than useful.
But, doing the same things harder all the time may cause other parts of my life to atrophy and that must be guarded against.