Pesky Problems

My whole right side is all kinds of messed up: tightness from hip to toe. I started to feel it about nine miles into last weekend's 12.5 miler, tightness in the hip, tightness in the back of the knee/upper calf, and then on Tuesday a dull ache in the joint of the big toe. I ran on Thursday and did speedwork. Sometimes I am too stubborn for my own good. I knew my hips were tight. I knew my toe hurt, but I decided to run hard anyway. Not Smart. Finally, when everything is hurting I come around to the fact that I should rest and heal. So no long run this weekend and maybe for a few days after this week until my toe is better. Clearly, as was confirmed by my physical therapy appointment on Saturday, there is still weakness in my pelvic floor (although it is much improved from where it was) and an imbalance in my hips. The muscles of my right hip are weaker than my left, causing my hips to roll/tilt when I run. You're hips need to be stable while you run, it's the powerhouse of your movement: everything starts at the hips. If things are off there you get injured down the line. You can read two great articles about hip pain and injuries due to pelvic tilting on my sister, Danielle's blog, she's a physical therapist and a runner. My physical therapist said that the discomfort in my toe is due to the tightness in my hips: tight muscles are pulling me even more off balance putting undue pressure on that big toe joint that normally wouldn't be there if my hips weren't tilting. She equated me running 12.5 miles to driving a car with a flat tire. Ooops. Not good. I don't like the idea of having a "flat tire."

The Problem: My hips and pelvic floor are still weak, yet I've continued to increase my weekly mileage and long run distance. Big No-No. The muscles of my pelvic basket (which include muscles in the back, hip and lower abdomnials) aren't ready for the strain of higher mileage. And when I say "high" I'm talking 27 miles, that's like half of where I want to be.  Also a problem: Me. I haven't been consistent with my kegels, pelvic floor exercises or with core strengthening. Even though I have two days designated for cross training I haven't been doing it consistently. Something always creeps in: a hungry baby, a toddler who is regressing in her potty training, laundry, making dinner, picking up clutter, wasting time on Instagram. But I always make the run happen. Hmmm.

The Solution: Scale back on weekly mileage and long runs and make strengthening my pelvic floor and hips a priority.

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record with the pelvic floor stuff, but it turns out it is pretty essential especially after having a baby. You can run with a weak pelvic floor post-baby, but it's gonna cost you either with injury now or weakness down the road. I guess even though I've written about this topic over and over it just hasn't been hammered home enough for me to actually heed my own advice. There that part of me that just wants to run! I love running. I want to set goals, train hard and reach them. It is very frustrating to feel like I am being "held back" from doing that, but the truth is I'm the one holding me back because I'm not putting in the time to correct the problem.

I'm hoping that I can find a balance between strengthening what is weak and my running goals.

What's the "lesson" you keep having to learn over and over? Do you have pesky injuries that inhibit you from training the way you want to?


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