BY LAUREN COVALUCCI
(So I went.)
“Your hip abductors are very weak.”
“These muscles up here.” She poked hard at a muscle group near my glutes. “I’d expect to see a lot more strength here. You need to work on that.”
On the examination table in the physical therapy center of HUHS, I thought back to the hour-and-a-half long dance classes I took four days a week in high school. The ones that made me want to drop down dead but also gave me the legs of a ballerina. Well, ballerino—I bulked up a bit. But even a woman would kill for Baryshnikov’s legs.
“Really? I mean, I dance all the time. I thought my legs were pretty strong.”
“Not your hips. No wonder you’ve been getting knee injuries.”
So there was that. Apparently I had weak hip abductors, which weren’t doing their job in compensating for the duck-footedness or the extra stress on knees that women deserve for having those wide-set childbearing hips. How dare we.
A note, gentle reader—the blame is not to be put on any high-impact activities I may or may not engage in. Oh, good for you, Lauren! You play basketball? Run track? Well, no, I do modern dance, which isn’t technically a contact sport, but it turns into one if you want to have any fun at all. The party ended when I left high school and stopped getting decimated by my wonderful dance teacher several times a week. What I lost in technique and muscle tone I gained in a propensity to jump really high and then throw myself at the ground in interesting ways. Injuries ensued. I’m either a fragile human being or an overenthusiastic one, and I like to think I’m the latter.
I will say that the accident that landed me in kneehab and physical therapy for my wrist wasn’t my fault. (I like blaming my choreographer but it wasn’t really his fault either.) A puddle of water did it. I was a sophomore, and it was my birthday, and I was in rehearsal for my modern company’s fall show, which was going up the next week. The thin rubber surface used on top of dance floors is extremely slippery when wet, which I knew. But I didn’t know about the puddle until a section of the dance piece until I tried to sprint straight through it.
Down I went.
Let me tell you about what I learned.
KT Tape (kinesiology tape) is magic. It’s a cross between athletic tape and Duck tape that gets stretched and stuck on your injured body part. Wonderful Physical Therapist Lady who (accurately) dissed my hip abductors would apply it to me once every five days or so for almost three weeks. It supports whatever joint isn’t doing its job and pushed the world’s most stubborn swelling out of my knee. Like I said—magic, though Ace bandages are still my go-to for compression and a little extra support. You can buy it yourself now at CVS but in my opinion it’s kind of useless if you don’t know what you’re doing with it. I’d pick some up and try to replicate my knee tape but I’d just end up disappointing myself and I do enough of that already.
Physical therapy is magic. There are people out there in the world who will explain to you why you’re in pain and will tell you how to fix it and give you magic tape. I liked PT because the solution wasn’t “take two Aleve and walk it off” or “invest in a Hoveround”. Something injured? That’s okay. Here’s how to rest it, here’s how to work on fixing it, and here’s how to prevent it from happening again. Very American, no? The third thing I learned, though, is that sometimes you’re stuck with what you’re stuck with. After babying it for half a year, wearing a brace for three months, and a lifetime of avoiding weightlifting, the wrist I sprained from that fall still acts up when it’s cold or when I try to lift something heavy at a certain angle. I’m a 21-year-old with joint pain. Come at me.
I still remember the exercises I was given in kneehab and try to do them once in a while. It would make my heart happy to tell you that I haven’t had knee problems since, so it’s too bad I’m a terrible liar. A year later I was on crutches (happy birthday, again!). At the moment, it hurts to walk up stairs because I ran yesterday, which made them angry. Again. Maybe my 25th birthday present can be a double knee replacement.
Lauren Covalucci ([email protected]) is excited with the prospect of receiving KT every birthday from now on.