Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm Injured. Who Done It?

As many of you know, I have been battling a hamstring injury (if your definition of "battling" includes crying in the fetal position).
So running recently has not quite been up to par. I still don't know what's wrong, but I've been considering a few potential culprits. So let's play a little game of Clue.

Is it Mr. Knot in my iliotibial band (ITB) with over-training?  
Is it Mrs. Tightness in my piriformis with not stretching?
Is it Miss Tear in my hamstring with hill repeats? 

I am quite familiar with Mr. Knot in my ITB. Seriously, every problem in my life stems from this area. So for those of you not familiar, here's a little run-down. Your ITB runs from your hip down to your knee. ITB Syndrome is when your knee hurts due to over-training and the resulting tightness in your ITB. It's not quite as dire as this article suggests, but it's not particularly fun either. Icing, stretching, and deep tissue massage are the most common treatments, followed by rehab strengthening exercises. Check out this article for details/suggestions. And here for stretching and strengthening suggestions

Mrs. Tightness in my piriformis?
Well, I think that she is my least likely culprit. I mean, my piriformis was definitely tight for a while there, but I think that was more a result of my hamstring issues, rather than the cause of them. If you're wondering,What the heck is a piriformis? It's basically a small muscle in your butt. It can cause piriformis syndrome, which is when the muscle presses on the sciatic nerve, causing pain. But that's not my problem. 

What about Miss Tear in my hamstring? 

This is definitely a possibility. If you already have a tear/strained muscle, you do not want to stretch too much (and if you do stretch, make sure the muscle is warmed up, and then ice afterwards). To prevent tears, make stretching a part of your routine. 

Here are some hamstring stretches: RunnersWorld, and Cool Running

Thus far, I think I blame Mr. Knot, in both my ITB and hamstring. However, I've been getting deep-tissue massage, and though it has helped, the problem is not solved. 
It's important to remember that all these muscles/tendons are interconnected and interdependent. Your legs function as one entity, with multiple components. So tightness in your hamstring can irritate other muscles, which can cause you to feel pain in completely other places. Which leads you on obnoxious games of Clue: Running Injury Edition, where you're stuck in a crap-shoot of guess-and-check. 
The case is open, the culprit is still on the loose. Until then, I will be foam-rolling and massaging, and running in a slow short-strided way. Hope your workouts are going better than mine!