First and foremost, thank you to everyone who sent well wishes for my hip. As I’ve lamented before, I’ve had problems with my hip since high school and every now and again it starts to flare up. Given that I am a huge proponent of preventative care, when something isn’t right, I don’t wait until it gets worse. I look for an answer asap and that’s exactly what I did this time around. So what happened? Here’s an abnormally long explanation…
Earlier this year, the hip pain came back with vengeance and I went to a chiropractor who was recommended by a friend. That chiropractor was beneficial as he took x-rays and we found out that one leg was actually shorter than the other and I was given a shoe insert to help fix this problem. However, my following visits were a bit disappointing. I would literally be in his office for five minutes max and then I’d be sent on my way. Something didn’t seem right.
Time went on and I picked up my usual routine – all running, no strength training or stretching. Bad Page.
After too many hours lugging around a gigantic bag across multiple cities and sitting in numerous planes for countless hours, my hip once again revolted, but this time it was something new. The sharp pain started on the right side of my lower back, wrapped around my hip and shot sharp pains all the way down my leg. Each day it seemed to get worse – I was unable to drive or sit at work without fidgeting to find a comfortable spot.
A professional triathlete that I know (he’s an Ironman after all) recommended a chiropractor who works with professional athletes in the city and was conveniently located right near my office – score! I immediately made an appointment and committed myself to the “hurts so good” pain of ART (Active Release Techniques – basically a really deep a painful massage targeting specific muscles).
His office walls are covered in signed Ironman posters.
This makes me feel better and a sucker for their marketing.
I’ll skip all of the stuff in between and tell you what I found out:
I’m weak and my psoas muscles are pissed.
If you don’t know what the psoas muscles are, don’t worry…neither did I.
As put by About.com, “The psoas major is a large muscle that attaches at the bottom of the thoracic spine and along the lumbar spine, then runs through the pelvic bowl, down over the front of the hip joint, and attaches at the top of the femur (thigh bone). It is the only muscle connecting the spine to the leg…We can’t see it, and most of us can’t flex or release it at will as we might a quad or bicep. It is a deep muscle, involved in complex moves and communications through the core and lower part of the body.”
Apparently, what happened is my excessive forward motion activities (eh hem…running), increased travel and sitting in small spaces, and lack of stretching caused my psoas muscles to shorten up (i.e. tighten), inflate and cause an imbalance in my hip placement and the joints that were taking the load, thus, the pain. The solution? Decrease the inflammation, elongate the psoas muscles through ART and stretching certain muscles, get my pelvis back to where it should be, and time off to let the body calm down.
He also prescribed one more very important item: strengthen lateral movement muscles. As runners, our muscles are used to forward motion activities. This is great news for some muscles, but not so much for the lateral muscles that have important jobs of holding our hips in the right place and preventing injury. Turns out that my lateral muscles are extremely weak and I was given specific exercises to strengthen those to help prevent further hip issues.
Whew…so there you have it. A combination of ART, chiropractic care, strengthening, lots of ibuprofen, and ice. It’s getting better, but I can still feel the pain. The doc said I could only do three more runs this week at an average pace, all no longer than four miles. Thus, I’ll be getting in those four miles tonight along with some pool time — hoping to pick my Las Vegas training back up soon!
Tell me, are you big on preventative care? How’s your lateral strength?
P.S. PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND AM PROBABLY NOT SAYING THESE THINGS IN OFFICIAL TERMS, LOGIC OR RECOMMENDING ACTUAL TREATMENTS. Just doing my best to reiterate what the doctor told me and share my two cents.