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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Running Injury Specialists

One thing I have found out being a runner - it is very hard to find the right person for a soft tissue injury.  I once told my physio "I wish I'd broken my leg instead"... that, medical science knows how to fix!  Knee pain, tendinitis, IT bands, it's all voodoo kind of stuff.  Hopefully the below helps navigate the sea of professionals (and not-so-professionals).

Sports Doctor - Yes!

They can rule in or out serious injury like torn ligaments or stress fractures, and best of all they are free in Ontario (covered by OHIP).  A good starting point.

Family Doctor - No.

I'm sure there are a few family doctors who can make sense of soft tissue injuries, but mostly they are rushed and don't have the in-depth sports-specific knowledge.  Find a Sports Doctor, it's their job.

Physiotherapist - Yes!

They are covered by most health insurance plans (might need a doctor's note) and seem to be able to do a complete evaluation to look past the point of pain and get to the source.  In fact in my most recent case, I almost didn't believe her when she said my knee pain was caused by tightness in my hips... but after working on it and stretching, she was proven absolutely right.  I'm a believer.

Podiatrists - Yes!

Your feet are all you have between you and the ground, and sometimes a small problem there can cascade all the way up.  I have had very good experiences with real podiatrists (doctors) who prescribe high quality orthotics.

Chiroporactors - Not in a million years.

Chiropractors are more miss than hit in my experience.  If you want to talk voodoo, they're it.  The "science" behind chiro is sketchy at best, which is why you end up with them claiming to cure actual illness by cracking spines.  Puh-lease.

In recent years, they got into the business of hawking orthotics as a side business.  They sold people low quality piss-poor orthotics that did nothing for them.  Marketplace did a piece on it, very disturbing.  I don't trust the profession - I'm sure there are a few good apples, but the over the top unscientific claims combined with the various add-ons as cash grabs makes me just stay clear.

Massage Therapists - Yes!

Now be careful here... a lot of people sell massages with creams that smell nice that make you feel very nice after - but do nothing to fix your injury.  That's not what you want.  You want a licensed massage therapist with big arms and a sadistic grin.  If it's not up there with the worst pain you've ever felt, they aren't doing it right.

I hated every moment of it - but it seemed to help, and at the very least helped me feel where the muscles I needed to stretch were, so I could really target them and know it was the right thing.


Don't waste your money or time - both of which are precious!  Find the right people to fix you.  Trust science and not quackery.  Good luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Toronto Triathlon Festival

The on-again off-again race in Toronto is on again!  The original plan had been for an Ironman 5i50 event, but instead they are teaming up with Triathlon Canada and the ITU to put on a world class event in Toronto.

Oh, and none other than Simon Whitfield, in his last race before the London Olympics.

I wasn't planning to do any on-road triathlons this year, but I just changed my mind - this is too good to pass up.  Love the city, can't wait to bike on the Don Valley Parkway in a real race, should be a hoot!

BTW, that picture has got to be Photoshopped, Toronto doesn't usually look that nice! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I ran 5k

October 2011:  I'm disappointed with running 5km in 20:05.
November 2011:  NYC marathon - 42.2km

February 2012:  I'm delighted with running 5km... in about 30 minutes.  With a walk break.

Why so happy?  It's my first pain-free run since November, and it feels great to be back running after being plagued by injury since then.  I managed another 5km yesterday as well at a faster pace, closer to tempo, felt really good.

I'm trying to be conservative, as I'm not only coming back from injury but I've changed the way I run in the process.  See my post about hip flexors and rotation.  My glutes (butt muscles) are working much harder than before, I can feel it as I run, and the next day.  It's going to take time to train them to be up to the job, but hopefully the end result is a faster and healthier runner.

Where I'm not going to be conservative is on the bike, as my focus is now on getting myself ready for Paris to Ancaster.  I haven't been off the bike as long as I've been off running, and I still have 2 months, so I'm hopeful I can do enough to have an OK race.

2012 should be a wild one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Return

I've always wanted this blog to be informative rather than just a diary or me blabbing on about what I ate for dinner, so I'll keep this post very short!

I'm easing back into a real training schedule.

Well, sort of.  3km run on Monday.  30 minutes on the indoor trainer on Wednesday.  Planning two more workouts over the weekend.

It's a start, after a frustrating few months.

The only positive is that if I had to choose 3 months to lose, November/December/January would be the ones I'd pick.  There is still a lot of time to set interesting goals for June and beyond.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hip Flexors Don't Lie

As readers of this blog know, I had some knee problems at the NYC Marathon in November.  Outside (lateral) knee pain, hurt going down stairs, sounded like classic ITBS symptoms.

Except it wasn't ITBS... the pain was slightly lower, where the fibula joins the knee.  There's a joint there that is involved in knee rotation, and in my case, excessive knee rotation.

Why?  Look up... waaaay up... the problem was my hips.

Your hips are supposed to rotate, and when they don't then other joints pick up the slack.  In my case, my hips were not budging - when my physio did the test for hip rotation, she said "you are the worst I have ever seen".  I didn't take it personally.

What exactly is hip rotation?  When you take a step, your pelvis should rotate forward on that side.

See this diagram from this Chi Running site:

I was running (and walking) like the guy on the left, over-rotating at the knee to get my foot to hit the ground correctly.  The result was an over-used and abused knee joint that eventually tightened right up, tightened up my overworked hamstrings and left me in huge pain.

I had one other problem - my right hip flexor was tight, so I was not taking a full stride back.  This meant my left leg had to hit the ground sooner, adding impact and injury.

Why me?  My massage therapist (I have quite a team now) said it's likely due to the desk job.  Runners beat their muscles up in training sessions, so they have to heal.  When you are sitting, your hip muscles are not extended, they are bent at 90 degrees in their shortest possible position... the result is they heal short and are tight!

What to do?  Simple - stretch.  A lot.  My physio also taped my left knee to force the rotation to go through my hip, and voila, it worked!  I felt like Shakira, shakin' those hips everywhere I walk.

I ran 2km relatively pain-free, which after running 42km doesn't sound like much... but after more than 2 months on the bench, it was huge.