Just like many of you, I’ve been to many different physios many different times to no avail. Just chalked it up to “I screwed myself working out too much when I was too young to be doing so.” I did train 4 – 6 hours every day on concrete and asphalt when “alpha-gel” was the new big thing in shoe sole technology when I was only a kid who hasn’t finished fully growing, resulting in avulsion fractures and such.
Over decades of going to physio, I was repeatedly told “Look at your leg. VMO is HUGE and VL is wimpy. This is causing your knee to turn inward. You have to work out VL.” This is true – the inside muscle is so overdeveloped that it pushes my knee caps visibly outside. I did the exercises religiously, and it simply never gave me any relief. I just hiked less and less and less. I stopped goal-tending.
So Eureka came from something that I thought was unrelated. A couple of years ago, I went to Gina Grain (TaG Cycling) to see if she could help make skating strides more efficient. She immediately told me my gluteus medius is very weak and my brain didn’t even know how to fire it. In fact, I couldn’t even do some of the exercises she gave me (and I usually excel at isolating muscles in workouts).
It was very uncomfortable to work this muscle, so I thought to myself, “I’m a rec player. Everyone skates funny. I’m still pretty fast. So who cares if I skate funny” and stopped doing the exercises.
The last few weeks, I was kind of bored so I started really focusing on the gluteus medius when I’m skating and when walking the dog. It had an impact within a couple of weeks. I’m more agile in my hockey skates, and outside-edge stop is more comfortable. This morning, I suddenly realized my knees are straighter and my pain is much reduced. The force of balancing out the VMO was coming from the gluteus medius – or should I say that’s the balance that’s been missing. I suspect that my oversized VMO was a symptom, not a cause, of the imbalance in muscle strength.
My gluteus medius overheat, and it’s uncomfortably warm in this summer heat after a dog walk, but I think I’ll stick to it.
Everyone’s situation is different, and this may not apply to you. But I’m posting it just in case it is. Because I spent decades and thousands of dollars before I came across Gina Grain.
If you want to know if this applies to you, here are what I would like to ask.
– Does the outside of your knee joint feel “pressure” all the time? Like there is a 2-lb weight sitting on it?
– Does the inside of your knee joint feel sharp pains?
– When walking, do you feel most of the weight going through the big toe (not evenly across the balls of the foot)?
– your muscle takes a while to start firing when trying an exercise like this? or gets tired very quickly (5 – 10 reps)?
– do you look like the blue guy in the first three strides of “running start” instead of holding a V-diamond like the guy in black?
(proper v-start in photo #2 here)
If it sounds like this also applies to you, please seek professional advice.
For everyone, there is a huge benefit to learning to skate from your butt, by the way. First of all, it gives you the “hockey butt.” Secondly, it is a vast improvement in confidence on the rink. Please see my next post.