Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pain and the Kinetic Chain

So we all get those aches and pains when running. Most are from doing a little too much too fast and having to suffer through some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Normally a couple of  days of easy running, walking or just some couch surfing will take care of those issues. But sometimes rest doesn't seem to help.

As I have been blasting through some recent races and getting great results, I haven't had a whole lot of rest. I did so well taking care of myself in the early season, doing just a handful of local races all while sticking strictly to my Zone based running plan. But by the time my first big race hit, the Bluenose Half Marathon, I was starting a block of heavy racing and the early lessons were starting to fade from my memory with every next great result. The only thing is, you can't keep going forever at top pace.

So a few days after the Cyclesmith Duathlon I decided to go for a long run. My one hip was kind of hurting a bit, but I assumed it was just some tired muscles so I ran through it. It didn't get better and by the time I got home and stopped running my hip hurt a lot.

So I rolled it out on the foam roller, I iced it and took some NSAIDs before bed. The next day it was okay, but still not great. So I decided to see my Chiropractor Dr Jason Grey. He found a little tightness and freed me up and it all felt pretty good. Then I raced again and by the half way point of the second run of the Greenwood Duathlon, my hip was starting to ache and slowed me down a touch, though luckily I had a big lead by that point. So back to Jason and another session where by I felt pretty good again. And then the next weekend onto the Ingonish race and etc....

So I did what a smart person might do and rest a couple of days. But it still hurt when I went for a run. Hmmmm. I did my stretching, I did my foam roller, I did my exercises but then right back into hurting hip. So for a change I went to massage therapy. I saw someone new to me at Nova Physio and Kim did a great job of loosening me up. I felt very good after our session. I waited one day and then went for a short run to see how things were going.

About 2 km into this run I could feel my hip again. As I hung my head in sadness I looked at my feet. One pointed slightly out (the good one) and the other foot pointed slightly in. Huh?  Okay. So I kept running and moved my foot out a bit and my hip felt 100% better. Wow. So I ran like that for a short 5 km run and yeah, the hip pain was fine (sure it was a little sore but no increasing pain). So that was great right? Well sort of.

When you go and change your biomechanics it can't possibly affect only one thing. So I replaced my hip pain with calf and knee pain. Not bad, but still not good. So this was a great diagnostic, but not so great a solution.

I got back home and pondered things. And it was at this point where I bothered to notice that the top of my foot hurt and my ankle did too. Hmmmm? So my foot was doing something not right? Sure why not?

The next day I did a test and placed my wife's orthotic insole into my shoe. Sure it was completely the wrong size, but this was for testing purposes only. And low and behold, I could run without actively changing my biomechanics and without adding any new discomfort or pain. I did get a blister, but that was my fault.

Okay, so my arch was the problem, or inner ankle, it is hard to say. My ankle is likely collapsing in and my big muscles couldn't compensate any longer. Well this was great news! I can work with this.

See all along I focused so much on the pain that I didn`t do what was right and figure out the problem. I wasn`t paying attention to the pain on the top of my foot or my ankle. I headed straight for the hip. But when the first hip treatment didn`t work, I kept focusing there. Silly me. A collapsing ankle / arch twists the calf, then the knee and leads all the way up to the hip. It isn't an uncommon cause of ITBS either.

The moral? Get the pain dealt with, the talk to your sports medical person (and all of us should have a go to person) when that pain keeps coming back. Almost always for us runners / triathletes / duathletes, it is some sort of muscle imbalance / weakness. And it often is the case that rest really won't fix the issue (as I found out).

Also if you have pictures from your sporting events, then you should study them and look for issues. In looking back through my last few races I can really see some form change from my nice form of the Half Marathon, to a more slumped look in some of my duathlons. So I know that on top of working on my ankle / arch strength, I need to work on my core as well.

And in the meanwhile? Well I headed to Aerobics First and had the great Luke fit me for a pair of over the counter orthotics. These are a temporary measure to keep me running while I work on rebuilding my core. So far they have been great, though they do seem to feel a little like lead weights.