Walking Story: Kidney Pain

Sometimes kidney pain isn't a pain in the kidneys

Some problems are harder to solve than others.  Patti, a longtime yoga student of mine, signed up for my Core Walking Program complaining of kidney pain.  I instinctively knew something didn’t add up.  While her walk was definitely in need of change and improvement, there didn’t seem to be any reason for her kidney pain.

After a little detective work, this is what we came up with—Patti’s pain was not in her kidney.  Rather, it was in the muscles of her lower back.  It turned out that three months prior to coming to see me, she had broken her pinky toe – the fifth metatarsal, to be precise – while walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Ouch!

A broken pinky toe is not really the biggest deal.  The standard procedure for an injury of this kind usually involves simply taping the fourth and fifth toes together.

Naturally the pain in her foot demanded some compensation. To relieve the distress, Patti started walking more to the inside of her foot.  It wasn’t long before some nasty blisters formed.  They eventually became so painful that Patti stopped walking on the inside of her foot as well.  She began limping around on the outside of her heel, doing anything she could to avoid both the inside or outside of her forefoot.  After a while, the blisters went away and Patti’s pinky toe healed.  Everything seemed peachy, but then the faux-kidney pain arrived.

When we suffer an injury, it is natural to compensate in order to both avoid pain as well as to heal.  But it is terribly important that we return to our original pattern once the injury is healed and the compensation is no longer required.  Unfortunately, Patti had never made her way back to her natural gait.  Once she became conscious of this, she was able to work towards restoring her pre-injury pattern.  Within days, her mysterious kidney pain disappeared.

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