NotSoZen YogaJen

Lists of Things I Can and Can’t Do With My Hip Injury

Posted on: October 8, 2013

F train

I can’t run to catch you anymore, F train!

After a year of hip pain, and four months of treatment for a misdiagnosed condition, I went to a new doctor and was finally accurately diagnosed with a labral tear in my right hip. I was gearing up to start treatment for my correct condition — scheduling appointments, calling my insurance company — but over the past few weeks my pain has gotten worse, so last week I went in for a check-up with my new doctor.

My right hip pain has been flaring up and my range of motion, which had been improving, has become more limited again. Also, I’ve been experiencing pain in the form of tightness and a burning sensation in my right calf (a side effect of having this injury is that it’s increased my vocabulary for describing pain, having had to repeatedly answer questions about my pain level and sensation — on a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level today? Is it dull? Numb? Aching? Burning? Throbbing? Stinging? Sharp and/or shooting?).

My doctor prescribed another MRI to see if something else is going on that’s causing my pain, in addition to the labral tear and tendonosis. So that’s my next step, and once I get those results, they will help determine how I should proceed with treatment.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about what I can and can’t do, having this injury. Not able to go to yoga now, I keep having flashbacks to a yoga class I took in the summer of 2011. I remember thinking during that class, as the sun streamed through the window, how grateful I was to be able to be doing yoga, sweating and happy and moving my body. I remember not taking it for granted, and actually fully appreciating that moment.

There were countless other times I took yoga classes for granted, assuming I’d always be able to go to challenging, vigorous, sweaty, mind-clearing classes. But I’m glad that I consciously appreciated at least one class. And I hope that one day I’ll be able to get back to yoga, and I know that I won’t take it for granted then.

These days, my injury flares up and calms down, is sometimes better and sometimes worse. But I haven’t had a treatment that has made it get better yet (although now that I have the correct diagnosis and will be getting more information from a second MRI, hopefully I will soon). So I’ve had to make adjustments to what I’m able to do, taking into account my current limitations.

Things I Can’t Do With My Injury

  • Practice yoga. Any kind of yoga. Not even restorative.
  • Put on pants without pain — it hits the edge of my range of motion
  • Consistently walk without pain and an awareness of my hip. Some days I don’t notice it much, but other days I feel pain with every step I take.
  • Get into and out of bed without thinking about it. I have to mindfully sit down on my bed, swing my legs up, and then lie down.
  • Sleep on my right side
  • Wear heels. Well, I can, and sometimes do, but the repercussions last for days.
  • Wear flip-flops. I can wear them around my apartment for short periods of time, but if I wear them to walk somewhere outside, my foot starts hurting, and sometimes my calf pain feels worse. This may or may not be related to my hip issue. It could be a totally separate foot issue. But still, flip-flops = pain.
  • Lift heavy things over my head, i.e. putting my suitcase on the overhead rack on the train. I now have to ask for/accept help. Frequently.
  • Plunk down in chairs. That’s what pretty much started this injury in the first place. I have to be careful when I sit down and do it softly and slowly.
  • Sit cross-legged in a meditative position. My right knee points straight up and can’t relax down to the ground like it used to in days of yore.
  • Meditate. OK, technically I could find another position to mediate in besides sitting cross-legged on the floor, but mediating in that position is Pavlovian for me and I’m being stubborn and refusing to mediate any other way.
  • Sit in my favorite writing/talking on the phone position, in my chair with my right leg tucked in
  • Sit on the floor/ground. I went to a concert in the park this summer and was in pain for two days afterwards. I can sit on the floor with my legs tucked under me for about 10 minutes, at which point I have to stand up and search for a chair.
  • Run to catch the subway
  • Walk fast or rush in general

Things I Can Do With My Injury

  • Pilates. A super-basic beginner class where all the students have injuries. Except when my pain is flaring up, I skip this, too.
  • Physical therapy exercises — gentle strengthening and stretching. Although I stopped PT a few months ago when I wasn’t getting better and then discovered that I’d been incorrectly diagnosed so it wasn’t addressing what I actually had. Once I get the results from my second MRI I want to go back to PT, to treat my actual condition this time.
  • Sleep on my left side
  • Slow down. I usually don’t like doing this but it’s probably good for me, on a mental/emotional/spiritual level as well as physical.
  • Get better at asking for/accepting help
  • Connect with other people who are going through/have gone through similar things, and feel better mentally and emotionally as a result
  • Practice taking good care of myself and paying attention to how I feel
  • Ask questions, get information, trust myself, advocate for myself, and make good decisions
  • Feel jealous — so jealous — of people who casually, effortlessly, pain-free-ly swing their legs into a cross-legged position
  • Stay hopeful

Things I’m Not Sure About

  • Given my range of motion limitations, I’m pretty sure that getting a bikini wax would be challenging and even more uncomfortable than it already is
  • Sex is N/A at this point but I’m kind of curious if/how it will work if/when I meet someone I want to have sex with


On a side note, I went away this weekend. I left my busy life in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and traveled upstate to a country-esque setting (and on the train I had to ask multiple people to lift my suitcase onto the overhead rack and take it down). When I got back, I realized that although my hip still hurt, it was a lot better, and I had no pain in my calf.

This crystallized my realization that New York City living is tough when you have an injury. Commuting every day on packed subway, I often have to stand the whole way, tensing my body, surrounded by people squished into me. On top of that, people push and shove getting onto and off of the train, flailing their bags and bodies against my hip.

I have to pound the pavement walking to and from work, often in shoes that, even if they aren’t heels, aren’t properly supportive. I have to rush, dodge, brace, swerve, twist, and turn to navigate my daily route.

Upstate this weekend, I wore sneakers. I didn’t have to walk that far. And when I did, most of the time it was across soft, gentle grassy earth.

While I have no plans to give up city living for my injury anytime soon, I’m noticing just how hard the New York City hustle and bustle is on my body, and that there’s a cost to my joints. But at least for now, I can minimize this by doing a few things off my “Can Do” List — like paying attention and slowing way down.

If you have an injury, what can and can’t YOU do? How do you feel about having limitations? What simple activities do you no longer take for granted that you used to? Share your experiences in the comments!

7 Responses to "Lists of Things I Can and Can’t Do With My Hip Injury"

Hi Jen
age 45
same diagnosis.
cleansed out most wheat (whitye flour) and sugar def. and started a pretty strong paleo diet and 6 months later, damn if I don’t feel really healed! yep, back to yoga, but now and forever, will have to move slower with my right leg (no matter how fast the teacher says) and never to my full range and always with hips level and pelvic floor engaged. And dude, you SHOULD totally be able to do resorative with your hips propped. AND sex, when it was really bad, my hubby and I called it the wall :) I was on my back, legs together, thighs up 90 degrees from my torso, then my calves folded over his hips as he came in lying on his side and he likened it to fucking a wall, bahahahahahaa.
hang in there. no one escapes life (or YOGA) without injuries :) isn’t yoga about being with whatever is in front of us ?

Hi Steph, Thanks for your comment and all the tips ;)

Interesting re: diet. Coincidentally I just cut out sugar last week. Good to know about the difference cutting out sugar and wheat made.

Went back to Pilates yesterday and hoping that the next step will be restorative yoga and then eventually other yoga classes, too.

Inspiring to hear about your recovery!


Jen, Thank you for sharing your story! I have labral and hamstring tears on both hips, impingement, arthritis, joint damage, and similar limitations which keep me from working in an office due to my inability to sit at a desk or stand (I tried a standing desk until I couldn’t stand anymore). I slouch on my couch and have had to take a demotion as leading a team with intermittent downtime from home became too difficult.

For the first two years, doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors kept concluding it was a piriformis strain (simple interpretation, pain in the butt) and prescribed exercises that, in retrospect, probably only contributed to further damage.

On second round of platelet injections (PRP) into tear of left hamstring in hopes of avoiding surgery requiring substantial downtime, and have hip replacement scheduled. Starting my own campaign to get the word out to yogis that, like me, didn’t go to a yoga class unless it was a level 2/3 or included the word ‘power’. I practiced for 10+ years.

I’ll provide an update after my hip replacement and whether the platelet injection helped.


Hi Deb, Thanks for your comment and good luck with your treatments! Feel free to share a link to my blog.


P.S. Could I share a link to your blog on my Facebook site? Deb

[…] Lists of Things I Can and Can’t Do With My Hip Injury […]

Hi Jen. Please get in touch with me. I am a dancer an clover of yoga who was diagnosed with AVN and a labral tear years ago and has been fighting it ever since by hunting down regenerative solutions…. even started to build a non-profit to advance the science. I think you should join us, and also maybe I know thing stat can help you. So please please be in touch. You can find me through my give forward page at or on my Facebook page (Avriel Hillman). I would like to know what you have decided to do… and I love how open you have been with your story and encourage you to continue to have hope you will get back to that yoga class. Let’s find an answer. Best, Avriel

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