While experts say that everyone with normal anatomy is capable of doing the splits, most of us know very few who actually can.
Sherie DeDore, 63, petite at just over five feet tall, has been a competitive athlete since she was a child. As a youth cheerleader, she learned to perform the splits. A few years later she competed on the Hoffman Estates High School gymnastics team and loved performing floor exercise routines during which she regularly incorporated the splits. She also enjoyed demonstrating her flexibility on the uneven bars and balance beam.
Continuing to see new challenges, she took up weightlifting in college and then progressed to bodybuilding while working her way through law school. She participated in bodybuilding competitions for seven years which culminated with earning the Illinois State Champion (lightweight division) title in 1986. DeDore’s routines consistently included the splits which highlighted her strength and flexibility. The audience and judges loved it.
While working as an Illinois assistant state’s attorney, she continued to work out hard and maintain her hip flexibility. She and her husband built a gym in their home.
“Keeping my body in shape makes me feel good,” DeDore explains. “I like the physical benefits as well as the mental benefits for stress relief.”
Hip pain starts
Understanding that injuries happen while pushing your body, DeDore assumed that her gradually increasing hip pain was due to hip flexor tightness. So, she visited a chiropractor for treatment, but he suspected her pain was caused by fairly advanced arthritis and recommended that she consult with a joint replacement physician.
“It didn’t even occur to me at age 54 that I could have osteoarthritis,” DeDore says. “At that point I was pretty sure that my hip flexibility days were over.”
Her stepson Lee, a physician assistant, recommended that she meet Dr. Brett Levine, a colleague and experienced hip replacement surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH. She wasted no time setting up an appointment.
“As an athlete it is difficult to deal with declining function due to osteoarthritis,” says Dr. Levine. “I explained to her that while hip replacement can provide her with an excellent outcome and improved range of motion, it will be her hard work post-op that is crucial.”
Hip replacement and splits again
Convinced that Dr. Levine would help relieve her pain and return her to a high level of activity, DeDore underwent a very successful hip replacement at RUSH and went home within 24 hours. Right away, she did physical therapy with a therapist in her home for two weeks, then walked a half mile each way to continue physical therapy sessions at a clinic near her home. Each week, her hip joint became increasingly flexible. Within six months, she was back to ‘normal,’ which for her meant doing the splits again.
“Ms. Dedore amazed us with the speed and completeness of her recovery,” Dr. Levine says. “Not many of our patients can return to doing the splits.”
Today, DeDore also amazes friends and fellow gym members who can’t believe she has had a hip replacement. She laughs and humbly attributes her excellent outcome to working hard at recovery and finding Dr. Levine.