Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Root of All Evil?

The calf is much better. I'll get to why in a bit, but as the calf gets better, it exposes that my hip hurts...a lot. The pain in the calf/soleus has been masking the hip pain for some time and alleviating one set of injuries exposes another. I've been certain that all my problems stemmed from one injury or imbalance, but I was unsure which. Thanks to a new little toy Holly and I picked up AND the expertise of her co-workers at Core Orthopedic, I'm on the mend and totally stoked about it.
We went to Road Runner's Sports just for the stick and I walk out with a new pair of shoes...oy! Yeah, Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane X (ten). "The Stick" in the background has completely fixed my calf; no bullsh!t. After only a few days of treatment it's almost completely pain free and I dropped close to 30 seconds per mile off my Z2 running pace...all from self-massage 2x a day. Nothing short of miraculous. The foan roller is working out my hip pain and the golf ball (permanently in the freezer) is doing wonders for my plantar fasciitis. It sounds like a lot, but if that's what I have to do to keep training and stave off injury--I will.
On to the hip. I'm sure the Piriformis is the problem. The hip and gluteals are the prime movers for your legs; when they're not happy, your performance suffers BIG TIME. I have pain in my hip that radiates up into my back and gets worse when I sit for long periods of time. Read below (text and photo courtesy if wikipedia.org). The Piriformis is the muscle at the top of the leg right where the sciatic nerve (colored yellow) begins.

"Inactive gluteal muscles also facilitate development of the syndrome. These are important in both hip extension and in aiding the piriformis in external rotation of the femur. A major cause for inactive gluteals is unwanted reciprocal inhibition from overactive hip flexors (psoas major, iliacus, and rectus femoris). This imbalance usually occurs where the hip flexors have been trained to be too short and tight, such as when someone sits with hips flexed, as in sitting all day at work. This deprives the gluteals of activation, and the synergists to the gluteals (hamstrings, adductor magnus, and piriformis) then have to perform extra roles they were not designed to do. Resulting hypertrophy of the piriformis then produces the typical symptoms.
Runners, bicyclists and other athletes engaging in forward-moving activites are particularly susceptible to developing piriformis syndrome if they do not engage in lateral stretching and strengthening exercises. When not balanced by lateral movement of the legs, repeated forward movements can lead to disproportionately weak hip abductors and tight adductors.
[7] Thus, disproportionately weak hip abductors/gluteus medius muscles, combined with very tight adductor muscles, can cause the piriformis muscle to shorten and severely contract. This means the abductors on the outside cannot work properly and strain is put on the Piriformis.[8]"
All of those symptoms and causes fit me to a "T" and it's no surprise my hamstring and calf on that side hurt.
I seem to have found a solution to my problem(s) and I'm very excited about it. Woot!


XTERRA 29er said...

The stick and foam roller are good stuff. I use a tennis ball under my desk at work to keep the plantar fac. at bay. Excited to see what 09 brings.

Luke said...

and the battle continues! i remember a long war that waged for 2.5 years...it ended with my eventual surrender! the diagnosis of running injuries can stem from so many different muscles, joints, misalignments, and imbalances that the struggle has the potential to drive one insane. i have relegated to supplementing the left side of my lower body with isolated training to help with imbalances. just another test in the world of injury trial and error. i wish you all of the luck in the world my friend!

Pedal Circles said...

Hope the stretching and exercises continue to help!!

I have a stick also; I just never know if it's helping or not ;)