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!


11 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

Hi Jen and company,
Just found your blog. How are all of you faring now? I was doing Zumba three years ago when I originally went to my primary with hip pain. Diagnosed me with a piriformis issue. Went to PT and it got a little better…the “ache” (like aching ovaries) came and went but over time has become chronic. I never know how I’m going to feel when I wake up. Early on I saw an othro doc who said I had tight hips, tight IT bands and had no sign of arthritis on the x-ray. He sent me on my way. Since then I have seen every specialist including the gynecologist (a few times), have had internal ultrasounds (normal), urologist (had a kidney stone removed), the gastroenterologist (a colonoscopy), five chiropractors, massage therapists, a Rolfer, cranial sacral therapy, yoga, and acupuncture. I finally saw a physiatrist in January with diagnosed me with an SI issue. Had two SI injections. First one helped for 10 days, the second did nothing. Started PT. Just last week he told me he thinks I may have a torn labrum in my left hip. Can I ask you all what were your symptoms? I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon next Tuesday. I’m sure they’ll order an MRI and I’ll finally get some definitive answers.

As for me:
Pain and ache can come and go. Some days I feel fine, other days my left lower groin area/piriformis/hip ache. Nothing touches it. I’ve been given muscle relaxants which knock me out. That helps at night. Sleeping in the fetal position on my left (bad) side is problematic.
Driving in the car or sitting for too long aggravates the hip pain
Sometimes sex

Ugh. Just want some definitive answers and move toward healing.
Sound familiar to anyone?

Any advice is more than welcome. Thanks.

Hey Jen!
So I have major right labrum tear it really is the worst thing ever! I would rather bring my kidney stone back! I am 30 my problem is 16 years of competitive gymnastics…now like I said there is nothing that can be done to fix my labrum other a hip replacement and at 30 (not a happy girl) my first minor tear was at 25 so I understand the pain you are in and OMG I can’t wait for the day I have relief but as I was reading your post I got to the part of sex and honestly I have no insurance I thought there was no way I could do this but sex even in pain it’s the only way I can sleep at night! Thank god I have an amazing husband to help me but if the labrum can be fixed you should really think about fixing it I now wish I did!
Good luck and email me anytime

Been reading your blog. And I can relate. I’ve been a fitness yoga and Pilates teacher for 30 years as well as a massage therapist. About seven years ago I started having chronic hip pain. Four years ago I went and had an x-ray when I tried to tell my doctor that I had a labral tear, he said nonsense and I said this is my business I know what I have please give me an MRI. Of course he wouldn’t and sent me to physical therapy which made it worse. Another year later and much less range of motion while still having to teach between 10 and 20 classes a week to make a livingI could barely get through the day to get home and lay on the couch. As you are very sensitive to medication and could not take it without getting sick. After the MRI and finding out that I had from Femoral acetabular impingement, labrum tear and bone spurs, I was relieved but pretty devastated. They gave me no options because I already had moderate arthritis and labral tear surgery does not respond well if you already have arthritis. Too young for a total hip replacement, have been in a quandary for years.
I started seeing a chiropractor who does low force adjustments, she introduced me to a Biomat and a high-frequency laser which I ended up purchasing for $2000. This is been very helpful in keeping inflammation down so I could continue to teach and do massage. On Wednesday I decided to have a Cortizone injection for the first time, and so far I feel a little better but about the same.
Things I can’t do anymore, sit crosslegged, squats lunges and deadlifts. I can’t run or dance and I have trouble going up and down stairs. Sitting for Long periods of time sucks and sometimes my hip gets stuck and I have to wait we go around until I can feel that piece of cartilage go back in the place.
I can do, Kneel instead of sitting cross legged, I can do anything a neutral alignment bridging is my hip and butt exercise that lightens my pain, I can still lift weights for my upper body and do certain Pilates exercises.
30 years in the business I realize that one of the main reasons I have this injury is because I’ve done extreme yoga and I jumped around teaching aerobics on hard floors for many years. Now I told younger people not to jump so much and to be careful with all that external hip rotation lotus pose deep lunges etc. realize that I had shallow hip sockets until my doctor told me, and that people with shallow hip sockets tend to have these problems more than people with deeper hip sockets. It’s really nice to read your blog thanks for letting me vent. Now I am 50 and having to re-configure career and my passion of movement and love of yoga.

Hey! I was so happy to come across your blog post. I see it’s been a. Few years now but I’m hoping this will still get to you!

I’m 32 and a dedicated yogi and I’ve recently learned (from an MRI) that I have larval tears on the right and left (due to FAI, or impingement) and tendinitis where my gluteus medius inserts into my greater trochanter (which is basically the outer hip area). Oh and I have some bone spurs with the labels tear on the left – that side is worse than the right. It was torn first and therefore now has more damage, because I’ve kept doing yoga and meditating in the traditional meditation position.

I’ve been referred to a surgeon but the woman at the front desk, when I called to inquire about the length of time before I even have an assessment, said it would be a year. So I’m looking at next August before I even see the surgeon, let alone have the surgery.

The weather here has turned cold this week (I live in Ontario), and all of the pains are really stepping up their game. My yoga practice has already taken a major hit – it’s more like very slow and gentle stretching – and meditation is becoming more and more painful, which just doesn’t really suit the practice lol. And FYI, I’m getting nervous about my sex life – it hurts a lot!

I’d love to know how you’re getting along. I’m also curious about your experience with Pilates vs yoga. I do yoga for the mental benefits as opposed to physical…I wonder if you get any of that with Pilates?

Anyway, I don’t know anyone else with these injuries and I’d love to chat with you.

Best wishes,

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