Emma's Hip Labral Tear Story - choosing exercise over surgery for FAIMar 10, 2021
How my hip labral tear diagnoses made me feel
In 2019 I was lying on the sofa (British for couch!) feeling that my life as I knew it was over. I had a diagnosis of Hip FAI and Labral tear and was in such pain I was scared to even walk down the road, sit to work or even enjoy a coffee with a friend.
I had ignored niggling aches in my Glute for years but thought I just needed to keep stretching. I was very flexible in my hips after doing ballet and yoga but doing even more stretching just didn’t seem to help.
One day in 2019 as I walked down some basic stairs at home it felt like my left hip joint suddenly gave way and I was unable to stand properly for a few days. I saw various helpful Physios, Osteopaths and Doctors who gave me what felt like very generic stretches to do and said I’d end up having surgery.
Everyone suggested stretching my glutes and hips even more and I was warned constantly that I shouldn't move or bend in certain ways in case I damage it further.
I became fearful of every movement and after an MRI scan I felt hopeless and scared of the operation leading to even more operations.
I could no longer do the most basic things like walking and bending. I'm now in my 40's and started to blame myself for sitting playing music too much (being a professional musician, composer and teacher I had sat a lot over the years). I also have a Thyroid condition that is in my family which can cause very low energy so I felt thoroughly fed up with it all!
Download the hip labral tear fact sheet to learn the common myths about this controversial diagnosis.
Why I decided to try a different approach for my hip labral tear
After some desperate internet searches, I came across some videos which opened up a whole new positive way of thinking about injuries. I also read a lot of testimonials by people who had already had the surgery that I was considering.
I saw an extremely inspiring journey by Maks who had a similar injury to me and didn't have the surgery. Something in my gut told me to try it so get in touch.
At this point I was willing to use my credit card and fly to the America from the UK for help! Something felt right about this new approach because it finally made me feel empowered that I had some control over my body rather than made to feel scared.
I think anyone who has been in physical pain for a long period can relate to the mental and emotional impact it has and how it can take over every moment of thought.
As soon as I spoke to Maks on skype it was a breath of fresh air and what I'd been searching for; someone who puts trust in the body and strength to move as we are built to as humans.
Starting to exercise for movement instead of hip pain
Despite this, I was still very scared of moving my body after being told by Doctors not to move in certain ways. I was wearing huge supportive trainers with a wedge in my left trainer (as instructed by Doctors) and was analysing everything in my joints. I was also carrying around orthopaedic cushions to be able to sit, as advised by my doctor.
I now laugh at all this but at the time it was all I had to feel 'safe'.
I even wrote Maks the longest email after our first sessions explaining to him every bit of pain that I felt, with details of exact joints and tendons I thought were involved and what movements I felt were causing it.
I was expecting Maks to analyze it all with me but instead he patiently explained about movement and the power of our intention and how focusing purely on the pain can often make it worse.
His absolute unwavering belief and dedication to what he felt was possible for the body, in order to heal and strengthen, was like a lightbulb moment for me.
I tend to obsess and be perfectionist about everything and research and analyse until I have the answer. Once I opened my mind and relaxed more, trusting and allowing my body to do it's thing, I could focus on the muscles. It opened up a new way of moving and a useful way for me to approach life in general.
I never had to do any exercise that was painful. I'd notice what movements cause any odd sensations and then over time things changed and strengthened to the point that there was absolutely no pain in my daily life and I now do exercise for building strength and enjoyment rather than searching for the 'perfect' movement to heal my injury.
My new Relationship with hip pain
I still work on my mindset every day and know that I will work on my strength all my life.I hope to become even more confident with what my body can do but now my awareness is on muscles getting stronger and doing more things for fun.
It might sound irritating to someone who is currently in physical pain but once you notice your own patterns and ways of thinking / where you put your attention...it can feel miraculous what the body is capable of!
Maks was expert at tuning into what works for me as an individual and I feel this is so needed in the world for all areas of health; guiding and empowering each person to learn what's right for them.
Maks made me feel totally at ease despite me at first feeling extremely unfit and embarrassed at doing movements over skype on my laptop!
I'm now in my 40's yet feel flexible and stronger than ever and I look forward to getting stronger as I get older!
In 7 months, I've gone from lying on the sofa in pain to doing full workouts which will hopefully get stronger as I gain strength. I still enjoy stretching and a few yoga moves but am focusing on strength alongside the flexibility. I'm sure for some people, flexibility would be more of a focus alongside strength.
I can get away with full days of sitting playing music as I used to but will now never go too long without moving my body and exercising for enjoyment. I look forward to ski-ing, cycling and horse-riding again which seemed like an impossible dream last year!
Thank you Maks! I'm now excited for the future and hope many others will benefit from your wisdom because it is so needed to empower people to learn more about moving and thinking in the ways we are built for.
I'm eternally grateful for your patience, especially after our first sessions when I said I couldn' do any moves except a Bridge and was too scared to lift my left leg up! haha!