Stretching the truth

bill bucknerNow I know how Bill Buckner felt.

One bad move…

You know Bill Buckner. He had a fabulous professional baseball career. Google, however, is not his friend. One incident marked his career and provided him with goat status. Two steps from becoming a World Series hero, a ground ball found its way between his legs and rolled into the rest of his life.

One bad move.

Six months on the healing side of knee surgery comes my bad move. It’s not on the level of Bill Buckner’s gaffe. It won’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated. But it has left a mark. Ouch, has it ever left a mark.

And I’m not even sure what I did.

A quick review. On November 30, 2015, I submitted my left knee to a surgeon for a total replacement. Dr. Kenneth Kress inserted titanium to continue the job cartilage abandoned. Weeks of rehabilitation and rest assisted in the healing. Then came a setback in the form of a meniscus tear in my right knee. More ice, more rest, and that issue was well into healing without more surgery when…

Another setback.

My wife and I have committed to long walks each Saturday, using the many hiking trails around metro Atlanta. We want to explore a different trail each week. It’s awesome, relaxing, and an opportunity to exercise and spend time with each other. Our selection of the Keswick Park trail near Chamblee was interrupted by construction barrels and rain. Three miles wasn’t enough, so I spent part of the afternoon on a stationary bike. Thirty-minutes of brisk churning didn’t seem all that excessive. I walked home from the gym feeling just fine.

Sunday morning, I woke up with a limp unlike anything I’ve endured in years. I hyper-this or stressed-that somewhere along the route, I guess. Oh, and we’re back to the surgically repaired knee. Yep. Five days later, and I’m more hobbled than I was prior to surgery. And everything was going so well.

One bad move.

As I’m sure Bill Buckner still wonders how he failed to grasp a routine ground ball, I’m not sure exactly what I did wrong. I really don’t think I was overdoing it with a three mile walk followed by a half-hour on a bike. I didn’t twist or trip or experience anything out of the ordinary. Fortunately, it feels like I’ve strained a tendon or ligament and nothing involving the area restored by surgery. On the other hand, I’m the numbskull who keeps injuring himself, so what do I know?

I’m trying to do some self-assessment while praying that this latest wound heals on its own. I’ve determined that I have been rushing into my daily exercises without proper preparation. As a young man, I never ever went out for a long run without stretching my muscles. In fact, I made sure to loosen my body both before and after a run. These days, I’ve been diving into physical stress as if ripping a bandaid from a wound. I have little doubt that this lack of warmup has contributed to my current state.

So, I must stretch. It hurts. My leg muscles are like cement blocks. It’s like trying to knead a pizza crust using marble instead of dough. My rigid quads are most certainly rejecting this addition to the routine. However, I now know that it is an agonizing necessity if I’m ever going to acquire a pain-free commute.

If all goes well, I will have learned a valuable lesson that won’t involve another trip to the operating table. I have to overcome my tendency to skip steps on my way to overindulgence.

Interestingly, there is one factor that lead to Bill Buckner’s failure to cleanly field that grounder in the 1986 World Series.

Bad knees.


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