Every so often those times came in a big way…and they are still coming: last week, for the first time, I was able to lockout my legs on my own. This is big for a few reasons, among them that lockouts are obviously vital for walking and standing, so I am now able to practice a more proper gait pattern when we walk at the gym. We – the trainers working with me – have been working quite a bit on the skills of getting my quadriceps strong enough to straighten the leg, and also on the coordination of getting my hip over my knee and ankle. Now that I have that movement down, we can work more on strength and endurance.
You will also see in the video below that, in addition to my quadriceps, my gluteal muscles are also engaging, which translates to much better hip control. Whereas in January, I had to rest my hips back on the belt quite a bit, now, while I still do need the belt some, I press against it much less because my glutes are engaging to keep me forward. The sit-to-stands are great practice for that movement pattern, as you will see, because pressing up from a squat into standing is similar to moving the hips forward and locking the legs while walking. With my increased strength, the sit-to-stands have improved tremendously; instead of requiring help on my hips, the trainer only has to unweight my body somewhat while I pull up (in addition, they help at the knees).
The final, and perhaps most significant, aspect of achieving this milestone is that it happened without warning, and yet, not unexpectedly. I believed, and I knew, that this day would come, just as I know that I’ll have a similar excitement when I can hold the lockout on my own and when I can stand up by myself. I could not have foreseen that on that Thursday my legs would suddenly respond to the input and practice they’d been getting daily. Actually, the two prior days at the gym were mediocre at best. It serves to remind me that, even when I feel like I am just spinning my wheels, as long as I remain committed and continue to put in the dedicated effort over the next year and beyond, I will see results. This is a theme that has come up before, and one that will continue to serve as a cornerstone of my approach to recovery because I am quite aware of how much ‘hay’ I am going to need to get back on my feet.