More Leg Talk + Diagnosis

I’m not super inclined to continue publishing posts with the “injury” tag on them, but as is typical when I’m off the roads, I spend an excessive amount of time thinking about my current circumstance. Too  much thinking results in excess brain fatigue, and without the outlet of a good, therapeutic run, I wind up depending on word vomit as my refuge.

In other words: I apologize for these dribbling, pathetic posts, but I need to get it all out in order to keep the toxic thoughts from burning my insides.

A lot has happened, though, which has all been constructive, daunting, and marginally encouraging.

I had my first ever PT appointment last Friday night. I know—somehow through four injuries, two of which were quite serious, I had yet to venture into an expert’s office. Relying on Google and general docs had worked before, but I wanted to take a more proactive approach this time.

In order to get as much bang for my buck, I gave the guy I saw A LOT of detail. I’ve heard they appreciate this, so I felt like a good rookie. He did lots of mini strength tests, flexibility things, and took me through a series of ART exercises. And just for good measure, an “into” to Graston—as he put it. Since there was a lot I took out of this, here’s some easier-to-read bullet points:

  • ART is awesome. The tweaking and stretching and adjusting he did to my legs felt great, and even if they don’t have lasting effects, it all felt very necessary in the moment.
  • Graston wasn’t as bad as I expected. Sure it was definitely an “intro,” so I may be eating my words later on, but I sort of liked it. It felt somewhat pins-and-needles-y, which escalated the longer he did it, but I liked that I could actually feel the progress happening. He explained that he was essentially scraping the scar tissue off of my lower IT band (the spot he chose to work on), and I felt like I could actually picture it happening. My best metaphor is that is felt a little like getting a tattoo.
  • My ankles, quads, feet, and glutes are all misaligned and/or messed up. I took this all with a grain of salt, given that of course the PT wants to fix every little thing he possibly can. But according to him, there’s a number of things wrong with me, which lead to the current decrepit state of my IT band. Things like: My quads have shortened on both sides which is throwing off my gait (subsequent foot pain, which I’ve had for months), my glutes are weak and aren’t firing in the correct way when I run, my ankles are unstable, I overpronate, and I lack the hip flexibility necessary for proper kinetic fluidity. Lost? Me too. It was all so much to take in, and I kind of felt like a failure of a runner/person after hearing all that. Like I was the bad kid in class, and the teacher was reprimanding me in front of everyone. Again, I wanted to assert some discretion, so I’m choosing to focus on the greatest takeaways: basic weaknesses cause my IT band to lock up, so I need to work on those.
  • Perhaps the most important lesson I learned while I was there was what’s actually wrong with me: My IT band is really inflamed/tight/unhappy, which is causing Greater Trochanteric Bursitis. So, ITBS + hip bursitis. The good news, those are both treatable, manageable things. The bad news, I’ve been trying to remedy these problem for the past two weeks, and I’m not seeing a lot of progress.

I was glad to feel like I learned so much from this appointment, and I’m 90% certain his diagnosis is spot on. All the symptoms I’m experiencing match the textbook definitions of these things, and it’s relieving to give a name to the face of the enemy I’ve been jousting with. But, at the same time, I felt really overwhelmed upon leaving his office: Do I need to change the way I run completely? How long will that take? How deeply rooted is this issue? What do I need to fix? How long will that take?

You can probably sense the theme in those unanswerable questions above. I can’t help but look down the proverbial road at how long my sideline stay will last. The uber-faint siren sound of “Boston Marathon Training” seems to get louder with every day that passes, and I have a hard time shutting out the internal clocks and calculators that start to assemble scary deadlines.

Ultimately, I know there’s still time, and I feel like I’ve run enough marathons at this point that a shorter training schedule won’t be the worst thing, if it comes to that. But, there’s still the quiet fear that keeps ringing in my head. My attempts at silencing it for the time being will involve more PT visits (so long as I think it’s helping), all the standard RICE/rolling/cross train prescriptions, NSAIDS, and stretching. More than anything though, I’m going to try and keep my mind focused on the {positive} future. I decided to fake it a little yesterday and started to write a very preliminary, lose training program. It didn’t necessarily have dates or paces or workouts on it, but just seeing the numbers, and knowing that I will (fingers crossed) be running them at some point, pulled me out of the darkness. At least for a little.

So that’s where I’m at. Another pissy bursa sac and a maxed out IT band. Having dealt with bursitis once before  when I was training for the Tacoma Marathon, I know that a cortisone shot could be an option. Still deliberating on that one. But, for now, I’m going to continue to hope for the best and keep my mind focused on those future miles which will ultimately lead me to the start line on April 21. It’s hard to imagine when I physically can’t run at all right now, but I need to remember that injuries aren’t a permanent state of being.

My short term goal is going to be to be running (however slow or short) by Christmas. I can guarantee this will result in my dedicating all Christmas songs to running (namely, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”) but that’s a conversation for another day.

Please do this winter-running lover a favor and enjoy every crisp, cold miles you get to spend outside. Running is a privilege, and I’m thankful (teeth somewhat gritted) for the tough-love reminder of that.

2 thoughts on “More Leg Talk + Diagnosis

  1. Becky @ RunFunDone

    I liked my PT, but it did piss me off that every time I went in, she pointed out some new oddity about my bones, muscles, or joints. It ended up bothering me because she always acted like it was the strangest thing, and I started to think, “Oh crap. Maybe I’ll never run again, because my body is so screwed up…” But then I go to races and see people with one toe pointing forward, and the other pointed out, running along, and I realize, “I’m okay! If THAT person can run, then so can I!”

    I hope you get better quickly!

  2. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    I’m glad that PT is giving you some validation about your injuries. It sounds like they are very detailed as well–which will be great for you moving forward since you’ll know which areas specifically need work. Of course, this all takes time, but I’m sure you’ll make big improvements before marathon time.

    Oh and I loooove Graston technique, which I could learn to do it on myself! I always considered it a treat!


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