FAI (Femoro-acetabular Impingement) & Karate

My personal experience with FAI and what you should know about this condition

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Hips are fine. Toe not so much…

I have had no real problems with my hips for a long time now. People are often amazed at my flexibility even before they find out I have artificial hips. I am not as flexible as I was 30 years ago and not as flexible as I would like to be. But I am doing well enough to be content.

Now for the toe… I had a bunion removed recently and am quickly recovering. I had the outpatient surgery on December 21 and taught Karate the evening of the 22nd! I was in a boot for a while. The doctor told me I should start moving my toe around a week after surgery and start working out of the boot within a couple weeks after that. So of course I started walking around the house without the boot 6 days after surgery and started wearing a shoe outside a few days later. I am by this point (one month post-op) slightly more flexible in that big toe than I was prior to the operation and at a lower pain level. The doctor warned me that I might be frustrated with the slow recovery and I am. But I see progress from each day to the next and encouraged that I will make a full recovery before too long. They took out several loose bits of bone that had chipped off over the years and shaved down the buildup (the bunion).

Please note that this is almost entirely a genetic condition. If Karate made it worse this was only marginal.

Still dealing with tennis elbow and some lingering tendonitis in my wrist from carpal tunnel years ago. Otherwise, just minor aches & pains all over. But it’s all worth it. 🙂


My hips are not perfect. But the only reason I say that is because I am not as flexible as I once was.

That being said, I have developed a realization. I am 48 years old now and I probably shouldn’t be as flexible as I once was!

THAT being said, when I take my time stretching after a workout these days, I can sometimes get to just a few inches from the ground (box/center splits). When I look around at the kids, teens and young adults in my classes and see that I am easily among the 10% most flexible, I would say that I’m doing OK.

Other than this lingering feeling of a slight lack of flexibility, I have no complaints about my hips. I may even have more strength in my legs now than I ever had.

People approach me on a fairly regular basis to ask about my experience with hip surgery. I know that situations and expectations can differ tremendously. But considering my personal situation, I do not regret having these operations when and how I did.

Next: I really should get this bunion on my big toe removed. I haven’t been able to do a proper kick with my left foot in several years because I cannot lift my toes properly…

7000 kicks in 1 week? no problem!

We had our annual year-end charity punch-&kick-a-thon this week.  Kids’ classes did 400-900 kicks each and in the adult class one night we did 2015 punches + 2015 kicks.  In total, I did 7225 kicks + 2015 punches for charity this week.  And apart from a little soreness in my calves, I feel fine.  3000+ kicks on Thursday evening had me a little worried.  But it all worked out.

nothing new to report

I often forget that I have artificial hips.

I do have some minor lingering range-of-motion limitations.  But these are more minor than anyone but me would probably notice.

I do mawashigeri (roundhouse kick) without any problem.  I just can’t do jodan-uramawashigeri (head-level hook kick) and a few other things.

In my university classes, I still see many 18-21 year olds standing there with their mouths open when they see how low my stance or split is.

But I do feel sometimes as though there must be something I can do to increase my range-of-motion further.  I do some slow, light stretches just before going to sleep, which seem to help.  And of course I warm up properly before classes (one challenge for me is that I teach 18-20 classes/week these days so going from warm to cold to warm again so often may be taking its toll?).

Anyway, no real pain and no problems to report.

1 year after 2nd hip replacement

One of my Karate students asked me this evening for clarification on my hip condition. He has only been training with me for about 5 months and had heard I’d had some work done on my hips. Then I realized that today marks one year from my latest surgery (2nd replacement; 4th operation since December 2007). These days, it only rarely crosses my mind that I had work done on my hips. Although I sometimes get frustrated with the limited range-of-motion in my hips, looking around I can see that I am more flexible than 80% of the other people. Sure, I have some pain in my hips sometimes. But I have pain EVERYWHERE! I’m going to be 47 in a few weeks! 😛

I keep forgetting…

I keep forgetting that I have artificial hips. I still have some occasional pain or range-of-motion issues that remind me of my surgeries. But for the most part, it isn’t even entering my mind as I do Karate, ride my bike, etc.

Today, I was leading one of my college Karate classes through some stretching at the end of class. I lowered myself into a split and heard some people gasping and saying “wow”… As I looked up, I realized they were impressed by my flexibility. Hmmm… I used to be much more flexible when I was their age so I was a bit surprised. At times like this, I chuckle to myself. I informed my students that in a couple weeks it will be 1 year from my 2nd hip replacement. I guess I’m doing pretty well. 😉

8 months post-op and barely any limitations remain

My flexibility is still a little limited. But not much. Otherwise, I am doing great.  A few weeks ago, we had our annual charity kick-a-thon events. I did over 2300 kicks on evening and a total of 6064 kicks during the week (not counting the ones in the classes themselves – just counting the kick-a-thon events) along with 2014 punches. No problem. Next year’s event is going to have to be more challenging… 😉

6 months past since 2nd hip replacement

Apart from VERY minor pain sometimes when I overtrain, the only lingering issue is range-of-motion, which isn’t terrible. I teach Karate 12+ hours most weeks and average about 50 miles on my bike each week. Yet I almost never seem to have pain in my hips anymore. That said, flexibility continues to be an issue. I just need to devote more time to stretching.

3 months and doing GREAT!

Yesterday marked 3 months since my hip replacement #2. At the dojo, I worked out with everyone for half of the class time (total class time on Thursdays = 3.5 hours) and felt great. I had to remind myself every so often not to overdo it. I keep forgetting these days that I have all this metal and plastic in my hips. 🙂

I continue to bike a lot in addition to all the Karate. I bike about 60-70 miles in an average week. I have also been ramping up my calisthenics. I have no problem doing about 100 leg-lifts and 30+ pushups and/or 10+ chinups after I come home from my morning 10 mile bike ride.  I do other exercises throughout the day and Karate 6 days/week.

Things are definitely going great.

10 weeks and feeling great!

Today marks 10 weeks. Just now, while stretching, I got a very nice POP out of my right (the new one) hip!  My flexibility is definitely improving. My strength has been fine. Biking this morning, I think I rode home faster than I had ever done that rout (5 miles with many traffic lights, in about 18 minutes). There are still some movements I cannot do, such as going down for that one move in Kanku-dai. But I generally feel really good. I am continuing to be careful about things, of course. But my progress has been encouraging.

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