My consultation with the doctor who diagnosed my hip condition was a pretty typical one in my experience. He explained to me the issue and told me that any high impact sports would be a bad idea. Running would be a no-go, but cycling and swimming would be fine.
Without going off on too much of a tangent here, why the fuck are running, swimming and cycling considered to be the only accepted fitness modalities for the general public? This seems to be especially common among the medical community. I explained that I wanted to strength train with free weights and the doctor’s basic reaction was almost bewilderment as to why I would want to do that. He told me that barbell training would not be wise and we pretty much left it at that.
I proceeded to completely ignore his advice and decided to program for myself and my goals, using barbell strength training as the base.
I’m a CrossFit coach and the athletes I look up to and admire are those that participate in the CrossFit Games. These guys and girls are mobile, strong and have huge amounts of work capacity. Whilst I will probably never reach that level, my own goals are to develop mobility, strength and endurance and my diagnosis has not changed that. I believe that strong, mobile (or as mobile as possible within the confines of my anatomical restrictions) hips will help to keep me pain free and hopefully stave off the depressingly inevitable hip replacement for as long as possible.
What my diagnosis has changed, is how I go about achieving my goals. For one, my mobility is compromised by my hip joints. This limits my ability to extend, flex, abduct and adduct my hips, which in turn means that exercises which require good hip mobility, e.g. squats, deadlifts, cleans and snatches need to be modified. Poor positioning with heavy loads will lead to injury, most notably at the spine. I have already injured my back once (herniated disc) and that is a road I really, really don’t want to go down again.
One of the strong tenets of good strength training is to work the joints through a full range of motion (ROM). Half squats, chin ups where the arms are not extended at the bottom or bench presses where the bar does not touch the chest are all inferior versions of those movements that go through a full ROM.
However, full ROM means different things to different people based on mobility and anthropometry. While one person might be able to, and should, squat “ass to grass”, for another person (such as myself), that would be a really bad idea.
To conclude part 2, my diagnosis has had a consequence on my training. However, rather than remove certain movements, all I have done is to modify them. I also focus much more now on mobility as part of my sessions and over all fitness. In part 3, I will go into more detail as to how my program looks, mobility work and exercise modifications.