It has been quite some time since I’ve provided an update on my FAI-y hips. Has it been 4 or 5 years since my first surgery? How about my last surgery? Which side was it that was done twice?
Good thing I have this blog to look back on because I can literally google my surgery dates. Turns out it has been five and a half years since FAI surgery #1 and only three and a half years since the last one. Seems like an eternity, yet not.
I’ve learned a lot about my body and what works for me these past 5 plus years. Most days I don’t even think about my hips, but most days I spend some time stretching, strengthening, or doing other things to encourage their health. Here are five things I’ve learned about running and FAI surgery recovery these past few years:
(1) I’ll Probably Always Have an Unstable Pelvis
I started having sacro-illiac (SI) joint issues while recovering from my first surgery, which seems to be a common occurrence after FAI surgery. Now that I look back, I probably always had some pelvic instability considering how common these issues are in women and how hypermobile my joints are.
These days my SI joint pain yo-yo’s back in forth between my left and right side. When it is on the right I just feel a little discomfort in my low back and some tightness in my groin and hip flexor, but when it is on the left it seems to have a cascading effect tightening everything up from my glute down to my calf and plantar fascia. Some days it will shift from left to right to left again and sometimes I go months without any issues at all.
Truth is my pelvis will probably always be unstable and I try my best to manage it and prevent any serious flare-ups. I don’t let myself worry about any pain or discomfort unless it lasts for more than 5 days and if it doesn’t resolve itself I will see a chiropractor or physical therapist for an adjustment and then I’m good to go until the next time.
(2) Sitting is Evil
I didn’t need to hear all the latest research that sitting is a lethal activity, I know it to be true. Sitting for prolonged time is the single worst thing I can do for my hips. I have a yoga mat next to my desk both at work and home and use the Move App to remind me to get up while I’m seated at my desk. Sitting for too long tightens my hip flexors and just makes me grumpy!
(3) Cross-Training is My Friend
Not running is one of the best things I can do for my running! When I was recovering from FAI surgery I kept telling myself I would happy if I could hike without pain, then that became running for 10 minutes without pain, which somehow then turned into running 7 days a week and trying to run my first 100 miler. Funny how that happens!
Cross-training is easy to do in the winter, yay SkiMo, but a bit more challenging the rest of the year because well I hate biking unless it is to a bar 🙂 I truly believe riding my bike a couple days a week would make me both a stronger and healthier run, just need to translate that thought to the actual bike!
(4) Self Care & Staying Active is Key
The single worst thing I can do to my FAI hips besides sitting too much is sitting too much. Being active, going for walks, doing yoga, or light running even when I’m hurting seems to do more good than bad. I always joke that if I’ve been sitting too much or my hips are painfully tight all I need is a good 20-mile run. Surprisingly I usually feel better after a long run then taking time off to rest, sometimes you just need to work out the funk!
Although I would consider my hips to be 110% of their pre-FAI drama self, they are still quite finicky and require constant care. I’m not sure if this is a result of being a runner and dealing with normal stiffness or a result of my three major hip surgeries. Either way restorative type yoga classes and ongoing glute strengthening and core work is paramount in me feeling good.
(5) Every Run is a Gift
I vowed to never take running for granted and treasure each and every run, but now that I’ve been running with no major setbacks for over three years it is hard not to take these runs for granted. But I see this as a good thing, most days when I am out on the trail I am never thinking about my hips but rather just enjoying the views, the wildflowers, or the company I’m with and that in itself is a gift.
I know there are many FAI sufferers out there that still struggle with pain and haven’t been able to return to normal activities so I guess I’ve been lucky, but I didn’t feel that lucky at first and it takes a lot of work to feel good.
If I had to attribute my success to five things I would thank 1) endless side planks with clam shells, 2) hours spent in pigeon pose on my back, 3) and legs up the wall, 4) lots of walking (less sitting!), and 5) knowing when to work through discomfort and when to worry.