Here’s a little quiz. You will know my correct answers by the end of this post.
1. What does IT stand for? a. information technology b. iliotibial band c. idiot teenager 2. What does TFL stand for? a. texting as a foreign language b. Tahitian Football League c. tensor fascia latae 3. What does GM stand for? a. gross mismanagement b. the general manager of General Motors c. gluteus maximus 4. What does PT stand for? a. part-time b. physical therapy c. post-traumatic 5. What does THP stand for? a. total hip replacement b. teenage halitosis problem c. take your hands off my peanut butter 6. What does ACL stand for? a. anti-cheerleading league b. anterior cruciate ligament c. almond cocoa latte
It’s 3 pm on a Saturday and I have just migrated from p.js into sweats. I’ve been so zoned into internet articles on my Ipad that my entire nutritional input for the day has been two cups of coffee, one of them gone cold. I’m not even taking a walk today. I’m stretching my IT band and feeling lazy—and smug. I am so hip. I have the same physical woes as a triathlete.
I’m goofing off today because my IT band is hurting. No, it does not refer to information technology. It’s my iliotibial band, a band of muscles which stretches from the hip to the knee. If you were a triathlete or distance runner, you would know this. I know this. My internet research repeatedly sent me to websites for intense athletes who are plagued by IT problems that have nothing to do with technology. Their knees hurt. Just like mine. The IT band is why hip problems result in knee pain.
I need to say this again, just to make me feel good: I have the same problem as a triathlete. I feel so validated. I’m not in the same shape as a triathlete, but we both are referred to the same set of exercises I’ve been doing at physical therapy. We both need to stretch the TFL (the tensor fascia latae) and strengthen the GM (gluteus maximus). No need to get into the reality that a triathlete’s glutes are not all soft and jiggly like mine. (In my defense, I will say that physical therapy has resulted in my slacks fitting pretty well, even if it has done nothing about the muffin top above the belt line.) The fact is: triathletes have my same problem. I feel so cool, although that could be from the BioFreeze gel that the massage therapist gave me. See, I am that cool. I have a massage therapist as well as a physical therapist and an orthopedic surgeon.
Having a physical therapist and an orthopedist makes me cool with the athletes at school, too. They are all falling apart on the soccer field and volleyball court. I see high school athletes wincing in pain at the PT office while I increase the weight for my clam shell exercises. At school, students on crutches hobble down the school hallway waiting for or recovering from ACL surgery. I swap stories with the injured athletes about PT, surgery, and pain management.
During a fire drill at school this week, I trotted down a long flight of stairs with all the students.
“Hey, Mrs. Harp,” asked a student who has never been in my French class before,” What happened to your cane?”
“I had surgery. I don’t need it anymore.”
“Hey, I’m taking French I next year.” (No joke, he really said this.)
Whoa. I’ve gone from being that old teacher with the cane to someone who has gone through orthopedic surgery. And let me tell you, THP ain’t no walk in the park like ACL surgery. I have earned some respect. I won’t tell the student that my little trot down the stairs has caused the IT to flare up. He thinks I’m bionic. No need to disappoint him.
Answer key for the little quiz: Answers for normal people: 1.b 2.c 3.c 4.b 5.a 6.b Answers for teachers: 1.c 2.a 3.a 4.a 5.b or c 6.a or c