Muscle Imbalances – What You Need to Know!

 

In order to fully understand muscle imbalances, let’s first look at normal muscle function. There are three types of muscles in the body: smooth, cardiac, and skeletal. We, of course, are investigating skeletal muscles – or the muscles that move our bodies through the swim, bike, run movement patterns. Normal muscle activation is a combination of contraction and relaxation of muscle fibers. The technical terms are called facilitation (contraction) and inhibition (relaxation). When muscles contract, they get tighter and do more work. When muscles relax, they do less work and allow their opposite muscles to contract better. Muscles in the body generally work in pairs.

Let’s use the examples of your biceps and triceps. Let’s imagine that you are sitting on a bench with a dumbbell in your right hand about to do a set of biceps curls. What happens when you move your right hand towards your shoulder? Place your left hand over your right bicep. In the rest position your biceps is pretty relaxed. The same with your triceps. Neither should feel tight or loose. Just relaxed. Now move that dumbbell up towards your shoulder and do a biceps curl. Now feel that biceps in the top hand position. Feels pretty tight now doesn’t it? The biceps muscle is contracting to pull the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Now feel the triceps. The triceps muscle should feel loose because it must relax in order for the biceps to contract. Now lower the dumbbell to the start position. The biceps muscle should be relaxed (loose) and the triceps contracted (tight). The same thing happens as you are running. As you lift your leg to propel yourself forward, your quadriceps (front of tight muscles) must contract to lift your knee forward and the hamstrings (back of thigh muscles) must relax. When the muscles are balanced in the body, they have the right combination of inhibition and facilitation during movement.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

If muscles lack the right combination of inhibition and facilitation during movement muscle imbalances can occur. Muscle imbalances may lead to injuries, biomechanical inefficiencies, and wasted efforts. Muscle imbalances can also occur due to poor static posture, joint dysfunction, and myofascial adhesions (think “knot” in muscle). These altered length-tension relationships between muscles may lead to altered muscle recruitment patterns (altered force-couple relationships). This is caused by altered reciprocal inhibition. Altered reciprocal inhibition, defined by NASM, is the process by which a tight muscle (short, overactive, myofascial adhesions) causes decreased neural drive, and therefore optimal recruitment of its functional antagonist.

Let’s look at an example of this. A majority of people work 9-5 desk jobs in front of a computer. Thus they tend to have tight hip flexors, or iliopsoas muscles. Tight psoas muscles decrease the neural drive and therefore the optimal recruitment of gluteus maximus (your butt muscles). The gluteus maximus muscles are the prime movers for hip extension and an important muscle in running. According to a 2006 study in The Journal of Experimental Biology, the gluteus maximus works primarily to keep the torso upright during movement and it is involved in decelerating the swing leg as it hits the pavement. Since the glute is a hip extender muscle, it also functions to extend your hip-joint as your foot pushes off the ground to propel your body forward. Weaknesses in the gluteus maximus can lead to compensation and substitution by the synergists (hamstrings) and stabilizers (erector spinae). This can ultimately lead to potential hamstring strains and lower back pain.

According to one study, over the course of any given year approximately two-thirds of runners will have at least had one injury that has caused an interruption to their training. For those training for marathons, the rate as been recorded up to 90% of runners. The most common running injury involves the knee. The most common running related knee problems are patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial band (IT-Band) sydrome, tibal stress syndrome (spin splits), and plantar fasciitis. Guess what? These common running injuries are overuse injuries generally caused by muscle imbalances!

Some researchers and sports medicine professionals have argued that triathlon, as a multisport event, causes less overuse injuries than single sports, because of the more even distribution of loads over the body’s muscluar system. However, triathletes still suffer from a high degree of overuse injuries. One of the most common is actually lower back pain. Triathletes tend to be over-developed in larger muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and shoulders. Triathletes tend to be weak in the smaller stability muscles, such as the lower back, core, adductors, and abductors. Again, these muscle imbalances are caused by movements that we do in each sport. For example, many triathletes, especially if they come from a cycling background, will be overdeveloped in the quadriceps region, but have these tiny, underactive hamstrings. This is a muscle imbalance caused by cycling. Runners are very weak in the hip stability muscles, such as the gluteus medius, tensor fascia latae (TFL), and adductor complex, which leads to weak lumbo-pelvic stability and the potential development of common running injuries. The sport of triathlon is conducted in one plane of motion – the sagittal plane. We rarely move in the frontal and transverse planes. Many of the hip stability muscles are targeted by movements conducted in the frontal and/or transverse planes.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Muscles can be divided into two types: postural and phasic. Postural muscles are used for standing and walking; whereas, phasic muscles are used for running. During the gait cycling of running, there is a double-float phase during which both legs are suspended in the air – one at the beginning and one at the end of the swing phase. Running biomechanics requires efficient firing patterns from the postural muscles while the phasic muscles do the actual work of propelling the body forward. Since the postural muscles are constantly be activated in the body to fight the forces of gravity, these muscles have a tendency to shorten and become tight. The postural muscles that tend to become chronically tight in runners are: gastroc-soleus, rectus femoris, ilipsoas, tensor fascia lata, hamstrings, adductors, quadratus lumborum, piriformis, and satorius. Phasic muscles typically may remain in an elongated or weak state. Common phasic muscle that have a tendency to be weak or become inhibited in runners are: the tibialis anterior, vastus medialis, long thigh adductors, and the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.

So, key points from this post:

  • Muscle imbalances are caused by the lack of the right combination of contraction and relaxation of paired muscles
  • Common triathlon and running injuries are generally caused by muscle imbalances, mainly in the lumbo-pelvic region
  • Postural muscles tend to become short and tight; whereas phasic muscles tend to become weak and inhibited
  • Stretch your psoas muscles! 🙂

Now, how do you identify muscle imbalances? Well, I did a post a while ago on why functional movement screens are important. Go read that! Or go see a sports medicine professional, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. This is especially important if you are dealing with a common running-related injury. Then find yourself a good personal trainer to help set you up on a good strengthening routine to correct those imbalances. Remember, I am certified to help you correct muscle imbalances. Of course, you should always seek permission from your doctor before starting any new exercise routines. Stay tuned next week on some good hip stretching and strengthening exercises to help you prevent those pesky running injuries.

~ Happy Training!

PS – Feel free to contact me with any questions at katelyn@bigskymultisportcoaching.com

References

1. Maffetone P. The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing. 2010.

2. Clark MA, Lucett SC. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Health. 2011.

3. Liebermna DE et al. The human gluteus maximus and its role in running. J Exp Biol. 2006; 209: 2143-55.

4. Manninen JSO, Kallinen M. Low back pain and other overuse injuries in a group of Japanese triathletes. BR J Sports Med. 1996;30: 134-139.

5. Fredericson M, Moore T. Muscular balance, core stability, and injury prevention for middle – and long-distance runners. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2005;16: 669-689.

Shakira was Right – The Hips Don’t Lie

 

Yup, the Colombian bombshell was right – the hips don’t lie!

Argh! My It-Band/knee issues have migrated back to my hips again. Last week I did have some success with my running. It was far from fast, but I was able to actually get my mileage in. Last Wednesday I had my long run – 90 minutes. I wasn’t sure if my knee would hold up for the entire time and when I mentioned it to my chiropractor she suggested to split my run in half. Run 45 minutes in the morning and the remaining 45 minutes in the evening. Brilliant! I had considered running what I could outside on the pavement and then “running” the rest in the pool. The thought of splitting my run in half never even occurred to me. It makes complete sense though because you get your mileage in for the day but with a lot less fatigue and damage to the body. This is obviously very important for me at the moment due to my injury.

Yesterday at the chiropractor I asked my chiropractor what is causing all my hip issues. I had a good feeling what the root cause was but I wanted her to confirm my suspicions. The perpetrator – muscle imbalances. Just as I had predicted. Unfortunately I had the imbalances for a long time. As a Freshmen in high school I had major patellofermoral pain syndrome cause by, you guessed it – muscle imbalances. My entire swim season was ruined because of my knee problems. Months of bi-weekly physical therapy “fixed” my problems and my hips were good for a long time. However, over the past couple of years focusing on long-course triathlons, my body, more specifically my hips, have taken a massive beating by the same repetitive motions leading to the overuse injuries that I have been battling with – plantar fasciitis, IT-Band issues, and piriformis syndrome.

Over the past year I have spent a lot of time learning about the human body and movement. Working in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and coach requires me to understand the fundamental elements of human movement. Through my own research and education I have begun to understand what my own body is doing during movement and where my body is compensating because of my muscle imbalances. To be completely honest, I have known about my issues for a while now, but haven’t really focused a ton of time fixing the issue. That small crack in my foundation has now caused a major rift in my foundation causing my whole house to shift. Yikes!

So what are muscle imbalances? I plan to have a post dedicated more to this topic later this week, but I’ll give you a little tease right now. Muscle imbalance occurs when muscles lack normal muscle activity – a combination of contraction and relaxation. Triathletes tend to become overdeveloped in larger muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and shoulders and weak in the smaller stability muscles in the lower back, core, adductors, and abductors. Imbalances may lead to injuries, biomechanical inefficiencies, and wasted efforts.

So yeah… muscle imbalance are not fun. Just about every athlete, especially triathletes, have some degree of muscle imbalance. All my clients have some sort of muscle imbalances too because of their lifestyles, ie. home or work environment. Luckily, muscle imbalance can be corrected relatively easy through corrective and strength exercises at the gym amd/or home. We’ll discuss this later.

My little word of advice – “pre-hab” is way better than rehab so don’t forget to do your core and hip strengthening work folks! 🙂

~ Happy Training!

IT-Band Updates

 

I left off last time stating that I was going to do my first run in over 8 days. It went okay. I made it a mile relatively pain-free and then the pain started in during the second mile. That Saturday I had a client early in the morning and then headed out for my 2 hour ride. I attempted my 15 minute t-run, but made it about a minute before the pain set in and this time it set in with a vengeance. My biotech job and my gym are right across the street from each other so I had purposely brought my keys with me to stop into the lab to grab ice. On my return to the gym both my bosses were in their office looking at each other and then at me. As I approached them, one of them asked the other who was going to spank me. I then succeeded to get a lecture on how I shouldn’t run on an injured knee. Opps! I guess at 26 years old “mom and dad” will still spank me for misbehaving. Yikes!

images-3

Later that day I also got a Restore massage at Athlete’s Touch. The massage was focused primarily on my IT-band, Quads, and hip region. The therapist told me that my knee region and hip region were quite inflamed. I could definitely tell that my knee was. It was a bit swollen and sore. I had removed all my KT tape a few days prior because it was irritating my skin and I think it was irritating my knee too.

IMG_0472

Anyway, fast forward to this week. I saw my chiropractor on Wednesday and reported back to her my failed attempt at running. She  did some massage and stretching work on my knee region. She’s beginning to think that my IT-band is probably okay. We both agree that it is part of the issue, but the real issue is my quad muscles are overactive and causing all the problems. Of course, the root cause of all my issues is my right hip. Every time I go in to see her my pelvis is always twisted.

The past couple of weeks I have hit the gym hard with some rehab exercises to strengthen my hips. Lots of clam shells, lateral legs raises, mini-band work, and donkey kicks. I’ve started to slowly add in some hamstring curls and wide-stance squats to strengthen my hamstrings and adductors.

I’ve spent a lot of time icing, heating, and also self-grastoning my quads and IT-band. It’s been great fun. My boss asked me the other day why I was “scraping” my quad muscle with Biofreeze and the handle of a butter knife. I love Graston! At least I have the proof to show my chiropractor that I listened to her advice – a few lovely bruises.

Lot's of icing!

Lot’s of icing!

Saturday afternoon the nor’easter rain decided to take an afternoon siesta so I decided to test my knee out. I laced up my new Mizunos and hit the flat, paved trail behind my house. I walked down the giant hill to the trail and then succeeded to run. The first mile wasn’t bad. There was a little soreness, but no sharp pain like previously. I kept going. Soon enough the pain started to ease back into my knee. When it got bad I just walked. When I felt okay again then I jogged. I did this for 3.2 miles. My running was super slow. I’m pretty sure the turtle I saw crossing the trail was moving faster than I was, but I was running. And running relatively with no pain. Now that’s improvement and I will take it.

Yesterday after my 4 hour ride I decided to try out my legs by attempting my 25 minute T-run. I took my time transitioning from bike to run clothes. I started out slow and took short strides. I wore my IT-band strap this time too. Guess what? I actually ran pain-free!! Initially I was just going to try for 10-15 minutes, but I felt good and I continued the full 25 minutes. Granted it was extremely slow, but running pain-free was a blessing. I’m hoping that I am on the tail-end of this injury mishap and I’ll be back into the full swing of training ASAP. I will still continue with my icing, heating, and self-grastoning in hopes that I won’t relapse!

In other news, Ironman Lake Placid is exactly 2 months from today and they got 3 feet of snow this weekend! Seriously, what the heck Mother Nature?!

~ Happy Training!

IT-Band Woes

The IT-Band - eMedicineHealth.com

The IT-Band – eMedicineHealth.com

I spent the last 8 days swimming, biking, and doing core work. No running. Why? Stupid and annoying knee pain. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had developed knee pain in my right knee making running a very unpleasant chore. I managed to compete in my first tri of the season and actually place well, but not without facing the consequences afterwards. Perhaps I should have DNF? Nah….

After the PolarBear I had a 60 minute endurance run in my training plan for that Wednesday. I was feeling pretty good and really wanted a good run. I haven’t had a good run in a while. The weather was beautiful out and I was pumped. I laced up my shoes, turned on the Garmin and did my dynamic warm-up while my watch was searching for the satellites. I swear my watch takes forever to find the satellites. Then it was off. My house is situated on a hill. Either way I have to ride or run down before I hit any flat-ish pavement. I took the hill easy because I knew it would irritate my quad. The hill went okay. About two minutes into the run the sharp nagging pain returned on the bottom outside of my knee rendering me to my little hobble/jump run gait. It’s quite the sight to see I’m sure.

I stopped, stretched (maybe prayed a little) and then began again. I managed to jog very slowly for 10 minutes but still had that nagging pain. After about a mile I knew I needed to stop. The pain intensified leaving me in tears. I turned around and hobbled/walked myself back home crying. Yes, I fully admit that I cried. After my 18 minute mile home I sat myself down in the chair with an ice pack and my laptop. I succeeded to email my coach (while crying of course) letting her know that I could not run and I had no clue how the heck I was suppose to do an Ironman in 10 weeks! Perhaps I was being a bit dramatic, but I was very frustrated.

Not being able to run while training for an Ironman is not good. Normally I would be the idiot and try to run through all the pain. However, the past couple of years I really have learned the value of rest and listening to my body. My body was telling me to stop running and figure out what the root cause of my knee pain was. Mary quickly replied to me to tell me that I would take a full week off from running and let my knee heal. We would see how it feels the following week and slowly build my miles back up. I still have plenty of time till Lake Placid.

I saw my chiropractor again on Monday and we both agree that my knee pain is being primarily caused by my IT-band. My quad muscles are also suspect in the situation too. Along with that pesky little piriformis muscle that I strongly dislike. We’ve been taping my knee and IT-band with kinesiology tape for the past three weeks. It seems to be helping. I’ve been very religious about icing and rolling out with my foam roller, stick, and lacrosse ball. That has seemed to help a great deal too.

Sweet Taping Job

Sweet Taping Job

I think the most important aspect of healing my IT-band is rest. I’ve done some research online and most sports medicine professionals recommend anywhere from 3-10 days of rest from the problematic activity (i.e. running in my case). I’m lucky that swimming and cycling doesn’t bother my knee and/or quad and IT-Band. Tonight is going to be my first night running again. Just an easy 30 minute run. If the knee bothers me then I will stop and continue to rest again. When dealing with injuries you have to be smart. I’m going to be smart this time. Let it heal and then strengthen it. I’ve been discussing with my boss at the gym the ideal strength/rehabbing plan for my IT-band to ensure going forward I don’t have chronic issues with it. Hopefully I’m on the road to recovery!

Here’s to hoping my run goes well!

Anyone have any advice on treating IT-band issues? What’s your worst sports-related injury?

~ Happy Training!  

Race Report: The PolarBear Sprint Tri

PolarbearLogo3bearssmall

2013 PolarBear Tri (www.tri-maine.com)

Going into this race I wasn’t sure what to expect. Honestly, I was about 90% sure I was going to DNF after the bike due to the major knee pain that I have been having. I saw my chiropractor on Thursday and she worked things out a bit and then taped up my knee to help with the patella tracking. I woke up Friday feeling great. After work I did my quick 20 minute bike and then 10 min run. Knee felt pretty good and towards the end a bit sore. I iced and rolled before hitting the sack.

Sweet Taping Job

Sweet Taping Job

Race Morning

Woke up with a stiff knee. Awesome. Ate my breakfast and threw all my stuff into the car for the 1+ hour drive to Brunswick. The race is a pool swim and thus only 32 swimmers could be in a wave at a time. I had to be there and set up in transition but 8:10am, but my swim wave didn’t start till 10am. Lots of sitting around and chatting time. My knee was definitely sore and I was visibly limping to and from my car to get my stuff. Not a good way to start a race morning. I met up with my fellow TriMoxie athletes and also saw some other athletes mingling about all waiting for their respective wave starts.

This was my first PolarBear Tri. It is considered to be the season opener for us Mainers who have to ride our trainers all winter long and swim in the pool until June when the lake water becomes tolerable (with wetsuits of course!). This race tends to bring out the big guns in the sport too so I was excited to see how I would do in a very competitive field. I was not expecting much at all due to my recent knee issue and the fact that my general fitness, and especially my speed, is pretty poor this year. My coach wanted me to race this race and I really wanted to. Of course, this was given to me before the knee became kind of a limiter. I told her before the race that if I felt good then I would race. If my knee was okay then I would just turn it into more of a training day. If the knee was causing a lot of pain then I was going to DNF after the bike. I was completely okay with a potential DNF too. It’s not ideal, but my ultimate goal this year is Lake Placid. A little sprint tri in Maine is not going to derail me from that goal.

The Swim

The swim is a 525-yard pool swim. I didn’t bother to warm-up because I would have just sat around from 90 minutes waiting for my turn. This definitely put me at a bit of disadvantage because I am the type of swimmer that needs a lot of time to warm-up to truly find my groove. I chose a lane in the middle of the pool and luckily ended up having the lane to myself. The whistle went off and I found a comfortable pace and settled in a bit. My intention was to keep track of my laps, but somehow I managed to forget after the first 125 or so. Typical. About what I estimated to be the 300 mark I tried picking up the pace a bit. I felt okay. It wasn’t my best swim, but it was not bad. I tried not to kick too hard because of the knee. I finally got the “last lap” sign and I pushed it to the last wall. I struggled a little bit getting out of the water trying not to somehow tweak my knee getting out. I hit what I thought was the correct button on my Garmin 910XT, but turns out it wasn’t. Opps. From looking at my data afterwards it appears I hit the 525 mark at about 8:42. I then set out on a half jog/ half jumping on one foot to the transition area. My knee was definitely sore, but tolerable. The swim time (I’m pretty sure) includes the run from the pool to the TA so my time is a bit slower due to my inability to “run” like a normal person. I can’t imagine what I looked like when the Capstone Photography person took my picture leaving the building…

Swim: 9:20 (1:47/ 100 yards)

The Bike

Transition went by quickly. I made sure not to dilly-dally around too much. I grabbed my bike and headed out on the long run to the mount/dismount line again with my awkward little attempt at running. I hopped on my bike and headed out on the 11-mile bike course. I hadn’t ridden the course before, but from what I was told that it was pretty flat with a few rollers. I had my Garmin Edge on my bike so I had turned that on in TA. The satellites took forever to find. I checked my watch to see my bike time, but didn’t realize that the watch was still set in swim mode. The course was relatively flat so I kept my power up and pushed it. The course was pretty empty, which was nice. I got passed by one speedy woman on a road bike and tried to keep her in my sight the entire time. I then got passed by some big guys flying on their tri bikes. I let them go since I had absolutely no hope in catching them. There were some upgrades at times so I ended up doing a lot of shifting to keep my power consistent and my cadence in a good range. My Power VI was 1.08, which is pretty damn good for me! 🙂 Even though the course is pretty flat, it has a lot of sharp corners. I’ve always been pretty timid going around corners, especially sharp ones, but I have made a good effort to get over my fears. I did super good today not slamming on my brakes and really riding the corners and then accelerating hard out of them. I’m quite happy with my bike performance. I was second in my age group for the bike split. I missed the top slot by 5 seconds. I probably lost those by trying to go the wrong way into the TA after dismounting. Opps! Knee felt good on the bike so I made the decision to run.

Bike: 36:06 (18.3 mph; 133 watts, 1.08 VI)

The Run

Transition went fairly quickly. I found my rack quickly, hung Azul up and grabbed my running shoes and headed out. The first 300 yards or so were very painful. I thought about just throwing in the towel, but made the decision to keep going. I made it this far and after having a great bike split I knew that I could be on my way to a podium finish in my age group. I just needed to keep my legs moving. The first part of the run was on the baseball field. My legs definitely did not like the long grass. I focused on taking short steps and moving forward. Then it was a quick jaunt on the trails and then onto the road. The further I got the better my knee began to feel so I kept moving. I passed a few people and a couple of people passed me. Finally I came to the first aid station and ran through it. I knew the first mile was almost done. During transition I realized that my watch was messed up so I was able to set it in run mode. Because of the pool swim I had no satellite data. Luckily I knew this would be a problem and put my foot pod on my shoes before the race. I hit mile one around 9:50ish. Not my fastest at all, but I was okay with it. I was running and that was what mattered. A 54-year-old woman cruised by me at this point so I picked up my pace. Funny thing was the faster I seemed to run the better my knee felt. Around the 1.5 mile mark we turned onto dirt trails. There wasn’t many people on the course so it was a bit lonely. I hit the second mile at a 9:11/mile pace so I know I doing better. My goal at this point was to negative split the run and also not get passed by Tammy, a super fast TriMoxie athlete who started about 20 minutes behind me in the pool waves. I knew since she was super fast that she might pass me in the run so I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. Plus it kept me motivated to keep moving. The third mile was a bit mentally tough. We looped back on the same dirt trail again and I could feel my knee pain again. I just knew I needed to make it to the finish. I passed a 65-year-old man in the final yards of the run. I crossed the finish line and limped my way over to the Med Tent to get ice for my knee.

Run: 28:04 (9:22/mile)

Race Bling

Race Bling

Total: 1:15:44; 3/12 AG; 32/133 W; 111/257 OA

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth - all taking home hardware after a great race!

Tammy, Myself, Marisa, and Beth – all taking home hardware after a great race!

 

Overall, I’m pleased with the result. Obviously, I wished my knee would not have been an issue so I could have pushed it more, but it is what it is. I know my speed isn’t there and my general fitness is lacking. However, I had a good first race. My transitions were good. I didn’t stand in TA and play with my watch forever like the Y for the Tri race last year. I went in, did my business and left. I had a great bike split and I did manage to pull off a decent run split. My knee was definitely sore Saturday after the race and I spent a long time icing it. Hopefully, we can get this knee issue figured out so I can start running again without pain. Ironman Lake Placid is in less than 3 months! Yikes!

~ Happy Training!

One Bad Knee

 

Last week began with some pain that I haven’t experienced since my freshmen year of high school – major knee pain. In middle school I experienced a lot of knee pain, but my doctors kept telling me it was just growing pains. Then as a freshman at McAuley I joined the swim team. Now, every doctor will tell you that swimming is a great form of exercise if you have joint issues. Well, apparently my body is ass-backwards because swimming actually exacerbated my knee problems. I mean to the point that both my knees would swell to the size of bowling balls. Finally, my doctors acknowledged that something wasn’t right and then referred me to a othropedist and then to a Physical Therapist. I spent months in PT to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knees. In nutshell I had patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is common in young girls undergoing puberty. As the hips widen it tugs on the muscles surrounding and supporting the knee join causing pain. As the muscles surrounding my knee strengthen the pain went away and I haven’t really had a problems since.

The problems I have been having in the past couple of years surround my hip. My right hip gets out-of-place and my pelvis will twist. Mostly the problem affects my piriformis (that evil little deep butt muscle that I would just like to evict!) and I have a tendency to get plantar fasciitis in my feet as a result too. I see an awesome chiropractor that keeps things at bay. My hips have been quite good for many months until now.

Last week I started getting some pain in my right knee. I knew my hip was out and I had an appointment with my chiropractor as soon as she returned from vacation. By last Wednesday I was in quite a bit of pain and as soon as I walked into my chiropractor’s office she knew something was wrong because I was limping about. She put my hip back in place and worked her magical skills, aka, Graston, and worked out some tightness in the piriformis and the adductors. My knee was quite sore for the rest of the day, but my knee did feel better on Friday.

I decided for once in my life that I would follow my own advice and play things safe. I told my coach that I was going to skip my long run on Saturday. Normally I would just trudge through my workouts and just deal with the pain, but I am thinking long-term now. Missing a long run now to avoid further knee problems is more beneficial to my Ironman training then doing the long run and causing more pain and risking possible injury. Instead I rode my bike on the trainer. Sunday I did my 3-hour long ride with no knee problems, but the 20 minute transition run afterwards was quite painful. I managed to run 15 minutes and then walked the last 5 minutes. Again, not risking injury. Be smart Katelyn for once in your life…

I am scheduled to race my first triathlon on Saturday. Unfortunately, I can’t defer the registration to another race in June so I am still planning on racing. And by racing I mean I will race the swim and bike to the best of my abilities and then play the run by ear (or should I say knee?). I will see how the knee is feeling. If it feels good then I am going for it. If it doesn’t feel good then I will try my best. If it feels like shit then I will just DNF after the bike and not risk the potential injury.

I want to be smart. As much as I want to race and kick butt this weekend, the race doesn’t mean much in the big picture. My goal this year is to become an Ironman. In order to become one then I need my knee to run (run/walk?) the 26.2 miles of the race. I’m going to continue to play things safe this week and I am currently crossing my fingers that this little glitch in training will go away very soon. I’d really like my knee back please…

~ Happy Training!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Opinions

After work on Monday I saw my chiropractor for treatment on my hip and also a second opinion on the plantar fasciitis. I’ve been seeing Dr. Casey Ericson of The Wellness Solution for a year now and she treated my first bout of plantar fasciitis last fall. I was really hoping to get in to see her before I went to the podiatrist because I really respect her opinion and much prefer her method of treatment over the conventional treatments for plantar fasciitis. However, she was fully booked until Monday.

I’m super glad that I saw Casey. She gave me a MUCH better prognosis and gave me almost instant relief from some of the pain after her adjustments and Graston work. I swear this woman has magic hands! One thing that I love about Casey is her philosophy about treating the whole person and finding the root cause of the problem. The root cause of my plantar fasciitis is my right hip. The foot doctor, even though he is one of the best in the country, didn’t care about my hip. Casey was glad that I did see the foot doctor before seeing her because I was able to tell her that I had clean x-rays. That ruled out some potential problems there.

She spent a lot of time adjusting my foot, ankle, and hip. She also spent a great deal of time doing some graston work on my calves, Achilles, and foot. I highly suggest the graston technique if you have soft tissue problems and/or major tightness in your muscles! It seriously does wonders! Micheal Phelps swears by it too! 🙂

Here is what the website says about it:

Graston Technique® is an innovative, patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions. The technique utilizes specially designed stainless steel instruments to specifically detect and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or chronic inflammation.

Here’s a video of what Graston looks like

I have chronically tight calves (like most Americans) and graston has really helped break up the scar tissue and loosen them up for me. My chronically tight calves and my right hip being out of alignment is also probably the root cause of my plantar fasciitis according to Casey. I completely agree with her. After all, the hip, leg, and foot are all connected. If my right hip is out then my gait changes and then I walk/run “funny” on my foot causing potential problems, such as plantar fasciitis. She also thinks I have a mild case of Achilles tendonitiis, which would explain why my Achilles has been so tender and weak lately and why I had almost no strength during my “pull” of my pedal stroke on my ride on Saturday.

She told me that if we loosen everything up by next week (I see her again on Wednesday) then it is not up of the realm of possibility that I could still run my half marathon at the end of the month. I’m not 100% sure that I will. If anything, depending how I feel, I might just run a couple miles of it and DNF. But we’ll see. I don’t want to do anything stupid and really hurt myself more. I’ve been wearing my super sexy night splint boot while I sleep and will wear the custom orthotics, at least for a little bit. But, as Casey pointed out, the doctor molded my feet when they were injured and thus my foot will be “cast” in the wrong position in my shoes. I understand what she is saying. I’m not 100% sure if it will make a difference, but I am certainly not a fan of wearing orthotics.

Don’t you wish you could wear one of these to bed too?

So, I’m very happy that I might be able to run again soon! And hopefully ride my bike again soon too! I’m suppose to ride in the Dempsey Challenge in a few weeks with my bik shop, but I don’t think my Achilles is up to par for a very hilly 100 mile route. In the mean time, I will focus on Operation Six-Pack! 🙂

~ Happy Training!