On Friday, I made my first visit to a physical therapist (PT). I likely needed to make a visit (or 30) much, much earlier than last Friday, but my usual M.O. has been to self-treat the aches and pains that I get from time-to-time. After a pretty painful eleven mile run last Sunday, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and make an appointment with a PT for a formal evaluation of my aches and pains.
Tight calves, pain in my soleus muscles and a sneaking suspicion that my pretty new Brooks Ravennas were not working out are what landed me in the PT's office, but I walked out of the appointment with a laundry list of ailments I need to address before they become real problems and potentially sideline me from racing. I realized I have been dismissing some issues as normal wear and tear when I actually don't have to live with the discomfort.
Trust me, the irony is not lost on me that last week I was writing about how great endurance sports are for you long-term, and now I'm giving you the low-down on my injuries. Funny how life works.
What exactly did the PT find? In short, she found that I have weak hip flexors, an overworked IT band in my left leg, piriformis syndrome and tight quads, hamstrings, calves and soleus muscles. The PT explained that my tight calves and soleus are the probably the result of my recent switch from a stability shoe to a neutral shoe - which is exactly what I had suspected. The other issues have probably been lingering for quite a while, and it simply didn't register that something could be out-of-whack. Take the pain in my hips and piriformis, that has been around since I finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 2010. I just thought it was "normal" to experience discomfort while training for endurance races. (No pain, no gain - right?) Thankfully, my PT explained that I actually can do something to alleviate the pain.
My treatment plan is pretty simple - weekly PT visits to work out the tightness and soreness coupled with daily quality time with a foam roller. I've never been one for stretching either pre or post workout, so squeezing in time with the foam roller is going to be easier said than done. But I'm serious about nipping these aches and pains in the butt (literally) because I have a packed race schedule this year, and I don't want to compromise a single one of them. In addition to all of this stretching and foam rolling, I will be placing the Ravennas in semi-retirement and going back to my Adrenalines. I had a lot of success - and no pain - in those shoes last year, so it's time to return to what works best for me. And just like that, the goal of one day running in Newton's was pushed further down the priority list.
What have your experiences been with Physical Therapists? As an endurance athlete, do you keep a PT on speed dial? Drop me a comment and let me know!
You can keep up with all of my training on my blog at: http://www.wholeironwoman.com