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Posts tagged ‘running injuries’

The Thing I Miss the Most (and it’s not Running)

Overall, I’ve been in a pretty positive disposition over this whole titanium rod with two screws in the hip thing. It is what it is. However, last night I started thinking about the thing I really miss the most since my surgery and the thing I want to do more than anything, but can’t. Nope, it’s not running. It actually doesn’t even have anything to do with working out. Shocking, I know. It’s actually quite simple. The thing I want to do so badly but can’t is…. bend my leg.

I want to sit on the floor, cross my legs, do pigeon pose, tie my own shoes, cross my left leg over my right leg, or anything else that involves bending my leg. But I can’t. My hip rotates about 10 degrees out and 10 degrees in. Far from what I’m use to. I’ve always thought of myself as having pretty flexible hips. I could easily do pigeon pose, sit however I wanted, and bend and rotate in whatever direction I pleased. You know that quad stretch that runners always do where they grab their ankles?  Yea, I can’t even do that. My days of doing dancer pose are just a memory and the thought of doing it once again is in the very, very far future. It makes me so sad.

The days of sitting like this again are in the far, far future

The days of sitting like this again are in the far, far future

This morning, as I was getting ready for my first strength training workout since Boston, I sat and looked at my left shoe contemplating how I was going to put it on. After five minutes of trying many awkward (and somewhat painful) positions to get the shoe on, I gave up. I finally asked Mario for help. I never realized how much hip flexibility mattered. Every night when I sleep, I have to sleep flat on my back with my feet elevated on a pillow. Before, I liked to curl up to fall asleep. Sadly, that’s not happening anytime soon. With a range of motion of about 10 degrees, I basically have to keep my legs straight at all times. I wake up at least once a night trying to get comfortable and it’s quite frustrating. Then I spend about 30 minutes every morning doing my physical therapy exercises, and the effort to get from point A to point B is always taxing. Just a month ago, I was doing handstands, backbends, stretching, getting up and down on the floor without requiring any type of assistance, and now I can’t do any of those things. Yes, I realize the past is the past and that doesn’t really matter now. But when I think about what I was able to do 30 short days ago and what I can’t do now, it bums me out.

Yesterday I wrote about the awesomeness of the human body. I know my body will adapt and it will change. It just needs time. I know I will have to work pretty damn hard to get to the point of where I once was. Even then, I don’t know if I’ll have the flexibility I once possessed. My problem is patience. I have never been a patient soul and I want to see big results now. In my head I keep thinking If I can just go to yoga, this process will move along a lot more quickly.  But I know I must wait. It hasn’t even been two weeks and my body is still healing. I just miss bending my leg and tying my own shoes. Is that wrong? I don’t think I’ll ever take my flexibility for granted ever again, because right night, I sure do miss it.


Happy Trails and Happy Running,


(PS: On a more positive note, I got to drive for the first time in over three weeks today. It was so liberating!)

Broken Toes and Running

My little toe on my left foot is broken – I’m 99.9% sure of it. It is super swollen and it has been that way for well over a month. I’ve been taping it to my other toe but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Sometimes it hurts when I wear shoes but luckily, it never bothers me when I run. There are two reasons I haven’t gone to see a doctor about it. First, there really isn’t much you can do for a broken toe and second, I don’t want him to say the dreaded words, stop running. Especially since my running is going so well. So my question is, can I still run with a broken toe?

Well according to Jackie Carmichael from Livestrong, it’s not such a good idea:

Your feet hit the ground approximately 800 times per mile, according to Cool Running. This type of beating will put a lot of stress on a fractured toe. Since the initial treatment for a fractured toe is rest and elevation, resuming a running regimen with a fracture is not advisable. If your fracture has healed and you have allowed the appropriate amount of time for recovery — this will vary depending on the injury — resuming running is probably fine.

However, on the plus side

…a minor fracture in a small toe may not require medical treatment or set you back from your daily routine for any length of time.

Ok, so maybe it’s not that bad.

I broke my big toe once and couldn’t bend it for a year. Eventually I went to see the doctor about it and his response was, you don’t really need to bend your big toe anyway. I was pretty livid after that statement and that’s why I’m hesitant to go see a doctor now. I think I’ll go ice for now and try and give it a rest from the pointy shoes.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Please don’t judge my feet. I don’t have time to make them look pretty for the pic.


My swollen left toe.

My swollen left toe.

Running Update: Tonight I did a very easy 4 miles with the run club girls. It was probably exactly what my body needed after a fartlek workout and my longer hilly run yesterday. Felt great the entire time and I’m so happy to be training out on the hills. I can really tell I’m improving. Stats are here.


My Running Form

I just spent the last two hours learning what is tight and weak in my body and what the heck is exactly going on with my body when I run. It was actually very informative and very helpful. Those two hours were way better spent than the two hours I spent at the doctor last week.

Today I went to see John Stiner from Stiner Massage. I found him through an article I read in Running Times and it just so happens that he’s worked on a few of the elites: Kara Goucher and Galen Rupp to name a couple. To be clear, although John is a massage therpaist, the two hours were anything but your typical day at the spa. In fact, those two hours were intense, painful, and a far cry from relaxing. Probably the exact thing any injured runner is looking for.

We spent the first 90 minutes doing a lot of twisting, pulling, and stretching. However, the last 30 minutes I found to be the most helpful. After an hour and a half of being stretched into oblivion, I was told to walk, jog a little and stand still. Well that was the key to my runner’s injury hell hole that I often times find myself in.

Problem one: I have lower cross syndrome. In other words, I stick my butt out. My pelvis should be in a straight line with my shoulders and upper body. It’s not. I have an anterior pelvic tilt. Check out this video for a little more info.

Problem two: My hips go one way and my back goes another. I’ve always been able to feel this but it’s been hard to pinpoint why I do this.

Problem three: My glutes are always engaged. Instead of using my lower ab muscles to pull my pelvis in, I use my glutes to power everything. The other massage therapist I’ve been to see several times even told me he wrote in his notes holy s***, those are the tightest glute muscles I’ve ever seen. I think it stems from the fact I use to be a dancer and we were always told to squeeze our glutes like we had a penny we didn’t want to drop. I haven’t dropped that penny yet. 😉

We did a few exercises and I immediately was able to tell how I used my glutes instead of my lower abs. For example, when I did the bridge exercise, I was using my glutes, not my lower abs. As soon as I started focusing on engaging my lower abs, it was hard to go back to using my glutes. Muscle memory is awesome.

So how do I fix my problems? First, I have to focus on shortening the distance between my pelvis and my rib cage. I have to practice pulling my pelvis in. Second, I have to open up my shoulders. I let my shoulders roll in and that is no good for running. Apparently I also have inflexible ankles due to the fact I run more on the balls of my foot. Therefore, I have to practice pulling my toes towards my shins. Then of course there are the stretches I need to do to open up my lower back and hip flexor.

Driving home tonight was actually quite entertaining. I barely remember the drive because I was too busy focusing on pulling my pelvis in, stretching my toes to my shins (cruise control helped with this), and doing this neck exercise to help with my spine. I probably looked really silly to anybody driving beside me. Oh well, anything to help an injured runner. 🙂

It really helps to have someone tell me what I’m doing when I run and it’s so incredibly amazing how every part in the body affects another. Now I’m off to stretch my ankles and work on my pelvis…. I miss running so much. 😦

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Recovery Update: Hip/Leg still feel off. I wasn’t able to go to the gym because of work and my massage appointment but I will definitely be there tomorrow. I feel so gluttonous for eating all this food and not working out.

Hip Flexors

Due to the fact I did not run my 17 miles this morning (a very sad day for me), I spent the morning learning about the anatomy of the hip. I’ve been down this road so many times and I know my body pretty well by now. My hips are the source of my pain (left hip in particular) and it is affecting everything form my left quad, to my left knee, to my left peroneal tendon. (Instead of the singing the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone it should be a tight iliacus causes runner’s knee…)  Read more

The Left/Right Balance

Running is a whole body experience and injuries can often come from bad biomechanics (at least that’s how I think). I get injured on my left side because my left side is weaker. I know this. I do not do enough to prevent it but at least I understand what’s going on in my body.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m teetering on ending up on the injury list. However, I’m not there yet and in fact have had some decent workouts. I contribute that to two things. First, I’ve switched to using my left hand for everything I can. It has made everything take twice as long and my makeup in the morning has been a diaster. (Putting eye liner on with your left hand is like trying to write with your left hand. Really freakin’ hard.) But it is causing me to become much more aware of my left side. Today while running, I only focused on my left arm swing. What a difference it made!  Read more

ABC Drills

Yesterday before my cool down, Gavin showed me some running drills. I’ve always had my own version of drills but it was nice to have someone show me exactly what to do. The purpose of these three drills, also known as the ABC drills, is to help with leg turnover and form. Two of them I could do quite easily. However I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person throwing my legs around for the other one.

In looking for a good source to describe the ABC drills, I found that most sites included the same A and B drill as Gavin showed me but had a different C drill. Maybe I’ll just add a D and do both 🙂 Read more

10 Laws of Running Injuries

Well I made it through my run today – hooray! And let me just add that after not really running for 3 week except for one 14 miler, 20+ miles is little on the hard side. Mentally, it was fine but my body is sore. Clearly cross training on the elliptical does not use the same muscle groups as actual running. I’ll take being sore though. I’m just glad I got to run.

While watching football today with Mario and my neighbor, I was reading through The Lore of RunningDr. Noakes has a section on injury prevention that I found to be quite informative.  The 10 Laws of Running Injuries was my favorite section. Here is what Dr. Noakes has to say about our running problems…

1) Injuries are not an act of God (you do something to get them)

2) Each injury progresses through 4 grades. Grade 1: and injury that causes pain after exercise and is often only felt hours after exercise has ceased. Grade 2: An injury that causes discomfort, not yet pain. and is insufficiently sever to reduce the athlete’s training. Grade 3: An injury that causes more severe discomfort, now recognized as pain. Grade 4: An injury so severe that it prevents any attempts at running.

3) Each injury indicates a breakdown (I guess that’s why I get injured towards the end of my training – I’ve broken down my body quite successfully.)

4) Most injuries are curable – Hooray!

5) Sophisticated methods are seldom needed

6) Treat the cause, not the effect – I really appreciate this one. My lower leg hurts and I know it comes from my weak hips. I can feel it when I walk and even tell when I sit down. That is the cause of my injury and that is what needs to be treated.

7) Complete rest is seldom the best treatment – I like this one!

8) Never accept as final the advice of a nonrunner (MD or other) – I can totally get behind this one. I love my running community friends because I often times feel they know better than a doctor I might go to because my leg hurts. They are runners and they feel my pain 🙂

9) Avoid surgery – According to Dr. Noakes, the “only true running injuries for which surgery is the first line of treatment are muscle compartment syndrome and interdigitial neuromas. Surgery may also have a role in the treatment of chronic achilles tendonitis.”

10) Recreational running does not appear to cause osteoarthritis – People tell me all the time I’m going to have arthritis when I get older (refer back to number 8). Noakes points out that modern studies show that evidence supporting osteoarthritis in long distance runners is for those elite athletes, who run many miles during their career. Although I may like that to be me, it’s not.

Well there you have it. The 10 Laws of Running Injuries. For any of those runners who may be injured, I hope this can be helpful!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


IT Band Pain: Strengthening > Stretching

I have a few friends who suffer from IT band problems. Put them on a foam roller and they cringe in pain. Lucky for me I don’t suffer from this problem (just lower leg tendon issues). But for those of you who do suffer, I found this recent article from Alex Hutchinson that may get you rethinking you home remedy. Strengthening your hips has been shown to not only help speed up recovery, but also in preventing the problem in the first place.

Alex Hutchinson:

The results presented at the meeting suggest a new approach to dealing with iliotibial band pain. While traditional rehab has focused on lengthening and loosening the stubborn band, early results from a study by the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic show that strengthening the hip muscles may be more effective – not only for rehab, but for preventing the injury in the first place.

Click here to read the full article.

Here are some hip exercises that are recommended to help improve your hip strength… Look likes I’ll be getting some good use out of the exercise band I got at Fitbloggin’ last week 🙂

Photo Source: Sweat Science


I hope everyone had an awesome weekend and is ready for the first week of October. Hello fall running season!!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Yesterday a friend asked me if I knew anything about blister prevention.  I was reminded of the most impressive blister I ever had a few years ago.  I was tapering for a marathon and running my last 13 miler.  My big toe hurt some kind of bad but I wasn’t about to stop or take my shoe off.  When I was finally done, I took my shoe off and saw what had formed on my foot.  It was the biggest, grossest, most impressive blister I had ever seen.  Immediately I took a picture and sent it to Mario.  It was that worthy.  Since then, I have been fortunate enough to not really suffer from blisters but I did want to share some info on blister prevention.

Gale Bernhardt:

Four major categories to combat blisters include lubricants, powders, hydration and taping. Interestingly, it has been found that rubbing moist skin produces more friction than rubbing either very wet or very dry skin. Lubricants help reduce friction by keeping skin-to-skin or skin-to-shoe areas wet and slick. Powders and antiperspirants reduce friction by keeping feet very dry.

Here is a list of the top 7 lubricants for blisters.

BlisterShield is a popular foot powder to help with blisters. Goldbond, talcum powder or cornstarch can also help.

Hydration is important for two reasons.  First, if you over-hydrate and have too much sodium, your body will retain fluid which can make your feet swell.  Second, if you underhydrate and lose too much sodium, fluid will be retained in your extremities (i.e. your feet).

If you are considering taping your feet, there are many different kinds of tape to choose from, with duct tape being quite the popular choice.  Other options include Kinesio Tex Tape, Leukotape, Micropore, Elastikon, HypaFix, EnduraSports and EnduraFix.  Here is a description of each tape as well as detailed instructions on how to properly tape your feet.

Of course you can’t forget the importance of socks in blister prevention.  Moisture wicking socks should always be chosen over cotton socks.  I always wear thin, single layer socks, but double layer socks can help with blister prevention as well.  Double layer socks have an inner layer that moves against the outer layer, which lessens friction against your skin. Less rubbing equals less blisters. Fortunately, my Features! socks have done well for me and other than black toenails, my feet are holding up quite well (from a runner’s point of view).

If you like gross things, here is a video of of a runner from the Badwater Ultramarathon having a blister lanced on his big toe.  It also has some tips on what to do after having this procedure done to help quicken recovery. Interesting, but still a little gross.

I no longer have the picture of my amazing blister so I can not share.  Instead, I’ll share a picture of my sister and me from my cousin’s wedding this weekend.  Congrats to the newlyweds, Dan and Kayley!!

Me with my sister Toni


Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Running Shoes

A few days ago a friend shared with me an article about running shoes and their effectiveness in reducing injuries.  As runners, we always hear how important it is to find the right shoe for our foot.  Overpronators need motion control shoes and underpronators need neutral, cushion shoes.  I’ve worked at two running shoe stores and this was how we determined what shoe was best for people.  Well, it turns out there really isn’t any evidence this is effective.

Gretchen Reynolds:

“But as the military prepared to invest large sums in more arch-diagnosing light tables, someone thought to ask if the practice of assigning running shoes by foot shape actually worked. The approach was entrenched in the sports world and widely accepted. But did it actually reduce injuries? Military researchers checked the scientific literature and found that no studies had been completed that answered that question, so eventually they decided they would have to mount their own.”

So what did the military find after conducting their own studies?  Assigning the “right” shoe based on the foot did nothing to decrease injuries, and in fact, “wearing the ‘right’ shoes for their particular foot shape had increased trainees’ chances of being hurt.”

Here is the complete article.  It is definitely worth reading.

I’ve gone through a lot of shoes since I started running 11 years ago.  Motion control, stability, cushion, minimalist, you name it, I’ve worn it.  With every pair of shoe, came an injury.  From my own experience, I do not feel that any shoe has done much to keep me off the injured list.  What I am finding to be the more helpful is paying attention to my form, using the foam roller, strength training, working on my core, and just paying attention to my body.  In other words, taking an overall approach to my running.  The more I think about it, the more I believe that one pair of shoes is not going to fix anybody’s running woes.  It may work for some people, but I would venture to say those people are in the minority.

This is only a fraction of the shoes that I have worn

Happy Trails and Happy Running,