Here’s a life lesson for you: Wherever your physical or mental pain is?? That’s possibly NOT the problem site.

Mind you, there are exceptions. If you’ve sliced your finger with a kitchen knife or chopped off your foot with a poorly-wielded ax, by all means: Direct pressure and elevate. Hurry.

But when things are not quite as overt (or horrific), just be aware that if you’re clutching at an owie-spot, you might have been distracted from the actual source of your pain. Shall I explain? (Oh please, do.)

I have this muscle in my right thigh that regularly sings to me. There’s a collection of long, tough thigh muscles called the adductors. (Sit with a ball between your knees. Try to pop the ball with your thighs, like Bond villain Xenia Onatopp attempting to crush Pierce Brosnan’s handsome torso. Those muscles are your adductors. Xenia Onatopp’s are stronger than yours.)

(Holy smokes! I had to IMDB that Bond movie, Golden Eye, to see what Onatopp’s first name was, and you know who played her? You know who attempted to pop Remington Steel’s steel core like a squished grape? JEAN GRAY from the XMen movies. Famke Janssen. Didn’t see THAT one coming!)

Dang it – where was I?

Right – the three or four muscles that make up the adductors. One of them, appealingly, is called the adductor magnus (which sounds very Roman Legion – or maybe like Monty Python doing the Roman Legion. Adductor Magnus is right next to Biggus Dickus.).

Adductor magnus goes from the inside edge of your knee right up the inside of the thigh and hooks onto the pubic bone, exactly where you don’t want to point when you say “It hurts HERE.”

Mine has been angry for a few months now, and mutters with such vigor on occasion that I actually limp for a few steps, usually hissing and cursing at the same time. Walking pigeon-toed helps a bit, but that seems like a short-term solution where I need resolution.

There are no fewer than FOUR fitness brains working on this with me. Barbara, of course – my wizard at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. Grace, the ballet dancer Pilates expert who works with Barbara. Josh, the physical therapist who rapidly identified two exercises that stretch the adductor magnus. And Gwynn, the Body Dynamics therapeutic masseuse.

And what is the source of my right leg’s angry adductor magnus?

Left hip, of course. Duh.

It turns out that there’s something going on in my left hip that affects my left knee and my left heel. I had no idea there was anything interesting happening because my right leg was compensating – and it was compensating by running a high-tension electrical line through my adductor magnus, which was being asked to provide pelvic stability it was not intended to provide.

Well, damn.

So it hurts HERE but the problem is HERE?

This is like the fifth time I’ve seen this pattern. Say I go see Gwynn for a massage and she says “What’s up? How do you feel?” And I think – it would feel great to have my back muscles massaged, so I say “My back is really tight.”

Well, that’s an automatic backfire, because she’ll start me out lying on my back and she’ll start digging into psoas muscles over the edge of my hip and down into the abdominal cavity, or have me lay on my side and work on lats or curl into a pretzel position with one leg thrown off the side of the table entirely. But damned if I don’t get off the table with my back feeling supple and content. She might never touch a back muscle, and she gets them to loosen.

The location of the pain just never seems to be a good identifier of where the problem is… unless you know enough to know how pain refers.

Oddly, this is NOT just a physical thing. Regina, the ace biofeedback counselor, hears about a problem and the first thing she does is ignore it for now and start fishing around for what ELSE is going on… and DAMN. She’s RIGHT. I’d totally lost track of THAT stressor because THIS one was using up all my oxygen.

In fact, Regina has asked me to be aware of certain patterns. When I find myself in the grocery store up to my elbows in the ice cream case, I’m to ask myself what else is going on in my life that I suddenly can’t resist either Ben or Jerry. And she’s right. I’m almost always able to identify something that’s eaten up all my will power or discipline or internal strength that I hadn’t even considered when the gravitational pull of organic Greek whole milk no sugar plain yogurt is suddenly so weak that I veer abruptly away and into the frozen desserts section.

So I offer you this for your consideration: Very often, the location of the pain is only distracting you from the actual problem. Something to be aware of.

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Here, Xenia Onatopp demonstrates an excellent adductor magnus exercise.








2 thoughts on “Distraction

  1. This really made me laugh because I, of course, also have pain in my right thigh except that mine starts in a place I CAN point to, right below my hip bone. Anyway, laughing didn’t hurt that so thank you and thank you for sharing your journey to fitness. You are an inspiration.


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