jo skates

Skating in the key of life

My left foot (and hip)

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I’d had intermittent pain in my left hip for over a dozen years now (starting when I was pregnant with my younger son, who is now twelve going on thirteen). The pain felt like a sore muscle deep in the left buttock, at the point where the inside of the left leg bone joins the hip. About five or six years ago, it was diagnosed as sciatica and treated as an impinged nerve originating in my vertebrae. Lots of stretching and massage, all of which had limited effect.

At the same time, I’ve always had trouble with the balance on my left side while skating. When I did freestyle, it was mostly about my camel spin (and some instability with the entry into the single and double salchow), but since focusing more on ice dancing I’ve noticed much more of an issue with three turns, rocker turns, and twizzles. The left side presents a problem for many right-handed skaters (or those who, like me, are left-handed but who jump and spin right-handed). And woe to those brave souls who venture into the European, American, and Starlight waltzes with me! I’ve never been comfortable with that left outside three turn and it is probably the most common turn in most dance introductions.

About six weeks ago, I developed really bad pain in my left foot. At first I thought it might be an aggravation of the tendonitis that I occasionally felt in that foot (dang those left three turns!) but it didn’t respond to painkillers, and I could barely walk. My doctor sent me to physical therapy, and this time I was diagnosed with a misaligned hip. The problem is that my left hip has been rotated inward, causing one leg to work as if it were shorter than the other and essentially throwing my entire spine out of whack (I saw the image when I went in for a bone density scan, very impressive).

So I’ve stopped doing yoga (the stretching may in fact be counter-productive) and am on a daily regime of strengthening exercises that include lots of core strength as well as exercises for the left side. And I’ve gone back to basics in skating, trying to work on alignment and balance on both sides.

This process will take a long time, but I can already feel a difference. Hopefully by the time I’m ready to retire from skating I will be able to do a decent left three turn and will never be tempted to sit out the waltz again!

Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

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