In my previous article, Injury Whack-A-Mole, I shared a knee injury I’ve been dealing with for a few months. After finally taking my own advice, I escalated my treatment approach and went to see a Physical Therapist. But not just any Physical Therapist: C. Shante Cofield aka The Movement Maestro.
How did I determine that it was time to go to a PT? Well, to be 100% honest, I should have gone back in November when my knee first started hurting because it would have avoided me months of pain and the compensation patterns that I developed to work around the injury.
I still don’t know what happened, at some point in November(ish) of last year, my knee began to cramp when I flexed it past 90˚. At first, it was only when I would bend my knee and sit for an extended period of time, like when I was sitting on the floor and working. Then, it started happening anytime I bent my knee, including sitting at the kitchen table.
I know, I know, at this point you’re probably thinking, “jeez Alex. You would have sent a student of yours to the PT like 9 months ago, why did you wait so long?!”
Because I’m stubborn, that’s why.
I kept trying all my tools – and while they would provide temporary relief, nothing banished it completely.
Most of the efforts up to this point had been directly where it hurt – right at my fibular head – and any soft tissue work here would hurt like hell and provide me some relief, but after a few days, I was right back to where I started. To me, this is a clear indication that the problem was not where the pain was.
Going to see Dr. Cofield was two part – I obviously wanted her to take a stab at my knee, but I also asked her to be a guest on my podcast, Behind the Podium (side note: she said YES and I can’t wait to record!). If you follow @TheMovementMaestro on Instagram, you probably, like me, have learned a ton from Dr. Cofield. If you are not following her on IG, go do it right now here.
Now here’s where practicing self-care and being embodied come into play – because I had explored many options and treatments by the time I got to Dr. Cofield, we were able to get right into the nitty-gritty. You will have a more fruitful conversation with your healthcare provider when you can offer more than “it hurts”.
We tested the range of motion of all of the joints of my left leg and then tested strength – all seemed to be all right. Not 100% the same as my right side, but not significant enough to be the whole issue.
Until….she tested my lower back. She had checked strength in rotation and it was iffy on one side, but when we tested the strength of my left lower back (the same side my knee was hurting) it was PITIFUL! As she was palpating (aka poking) tissues on my lateral thigh and retesting the lower back, the one thing that put up a huge red flag was my IT Band.
Our theory is that some time, at some point, for some reason, my IT Band started to do the work that my lower back (obliques and quadratus lumborum) should have been doing. It’s not that my QL and obliques are weak (we tested that too) they were just totally offline.
Our neuromuscular system is so complex I don’t even understand it 100%, but what I do know is that the body and brain attempt to be as efficient as possible at all times. If for some reason my lower back didn’t step up to the plate when called upon, my body just built a workaround that got the job done, but at a cost.
Homework has included release work for the whole left leg, nerve flossing to reduce nerve tension in the left leg (from walking around for 5 months in pain) followed by activation of obliques and QL so that can come back to the low back stabilization party.
Best part? One week in and I feel So. Much. Better.
Please learn from my lesson – when you are in pain, go seek help, advice and treatment from those who know more than you. And when you still don’t find resolution, keep escalating your treatment up the chain. Don’t wait!
By the way, did you know I publish a weekly podcast with my friend and fellow coach Jared Cohen? It’s called Behind the Podium: Unveiling the Coach and we chat with people who coach, teach, or help others in many differenet capacities. I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed our conversations and I think you will too. You can find it on iTunes, Google Play and at www.behindthepodiumpodcast.com.
- March 26: T-Rex Hates Chaturanga (Glendale, CA)
- April 1-2: Artisanal LA Pop-Up Show (Los Angeles, CA)
- April 22: Bulletproof Shoulders (Santa Monica, CA)
- April 28-30: Treat While You Train (Vancouver, WA)
- May 5-6: YTU Hips Immersion (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
- July 21-23: YTU Integrated Embodied Anatomy (San Francisco, CA)