No one likes hurting when they walk, so the typical response to pain is decreasing how much walking we do. While that might be okay at the moment, what do you think will happen over the coming days, weeks, or months of not walking? Well, we get weak. And because we’re weaker, walking hurts even more, and the pain starts sooner.
That was the story of Dr. Alex’s mom, Lora. Ten minutes of walking was excruciating on her outer hip. In addition, she couldn’t lie on that side to sleep, and even sitting in a car hurt. So it was time for a change because she wanted to get more active and knew she needed guidance in managing that painful hip.
At Lora’s first virtual PT visit, Dr. Alex took his mom through movements, stretches and activities to determine the root cause of her pain; that assessment also established her starting point, because not all exercise helps you heal–the right exercises matched to your body is what enables you to heal.
Lora was dealing with a hip abductor strain, and do you know what muscles work a ton for you when walking? That’s right, your hip abductors. Hip abductors are the muscles on the side of your pelvis and are active with every step you take. Dr. Alex also determined his mom’s balance was off, potentially impacted by her pain. Lora could only balance 2.5 seconds on her right leg and 3.5 seconds on her left. Painful muscles can’t do their jobs effectively, and these muscles play a significant role in balance.
So we got to work. Lora’s exercises were specifically selected for her body: gentle stretches of the outer hip, standing on one leg with hand support, light strengthening of her hip abductors, etc.
And Lora improved. She was an A+ patient and did her 15 minutes of exercises daily. Week to week, her balance improved, and those weak muscles were testing stronger at her online check-ins. We slowly advanced the difficulty of Lora’s exercises and taught her some self-releases of muscles on her outer hip, and after a couple of months, she didn’t hurt anymore.
But we didn’t stop there. Not hurting is a great place to be, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re strong. Lora had a big trip planned to San Francisco a few months after we started, and she would do a lot of walking there. Her hip needed to be ready for that, so she wouldn’t be at risk for reinjuring herself on vacation. We added daily walking to her program, recommended adding some hills (think San Francisco terrain), and needed to continue advancing her hip, core, and leg strength.
Dr. Alex’s mom made it to San Francisco and did not take it easy. She walked over 24,000 steps in a single day. She visited Alcatraz, went to Fisherman’s Wharf, saw the Golden Gate Bridge, went on wine tours, and adventured through the city on her first-ever visit. She said it was tiring, but she had no pain!
And remember that single-leg balance? 2.5 seconds on her right leg and 3.5 seconds on her left. We retested her balance, and Lora could stay balanced for 30 seconds on each leg. That’s huge! Going from 2-3 seconds on each leg to 30 seconds does not happen for everyone. Not only does this mean she’s stronger, but it means she’s more steady. And being more balanced in your 70s means being more balanced into the future and at less risk of falling.
Lora remains an A+ client and continues on in a personal training capacity. She’s currently not limited by any pain, and because she’s staying active, any future injuries will be milder and heal faster because of the work she has already put in.
At motivPT, we'll get you moving in a healthy way. If you have pain, weakness, or imbalance, consider booking with us for an online Physical Therapy routine customized to fit your individual needs. Book your free 15-minute consult to talk with Dr. Alex about your concerns and learn more about how we work!