After 3 weeks of knee problems and extremely limited running I am so excited to announce I will be participating in the Double Bridge Run this Saturday!
This race is one of (if not the) most popular races in the area. The 15k course starts in downtown Pensacola, goes over the Pensacola Bridge into Gulf Breeze, crosses the Pensacola Beach bridge and ends on Pensacola Beach. How amazing is that? Talk about a gorgeous view!
After the rough few weeks I've had with running completing this race is going to be extremely rewarding for me. In the past few days I've been able to successfully complete a 6 mile and 5 mile run virtually pain free. I feel it's time I share what I've learned over the last few weeks about preventing and treating running injuries. I am in no way an expert in this area - but I've found a few things to be very helpful and I'm hoping the information may help others!
Without seeing a doctor my unofficial diagnosis is IT Band issues potentially triggered by weak glute muscles. This was surprising to me given how ... bootylicious I am. It wasn't until I started foam rolling that I discovered a huge knot/sore spot in my left glute. I also realized this may be the culprit when I started trying to run again last week and I literally had to stop every 1/10th of a mile to stretch out my glute muscles.
The drivers going by probably thought I was crazy but I would start to feel tightness running down my left thigh to my knee and if I stopped to do this stretch for 10 seconds it would completely go away:
That's me showing off the move before running (late) to class last night. Great glute stretch!
Even without knowing specifically what caused my knee problems I know for certain a few things:
- I wasn't stretching nearly as much as I should pre and post-run
- I woefully neglected strength training when it came to my lower body (I figured the running was enough!)
- I didn't realize how absolutely detrimental it was for me to continue running the first few days after I noticed my knee hurting. If I had completely stopped then I anticipate my recovery time would have been a few days, not a few weeks.
As proactive measures for any runners, and my plan of recovery, I would recommend the following activities:
Stretch Extensively. My Dad's going to kill me for saying this but I maybe spent 5 minutes stretching before a long run. If that. Lesson learned and I now spend about 10 minutes pre and post run (not including a walking warm-up.) I use this guide from Runners World.
Foam Rolling. I watched this video from Jen at PeanutButterRunner and started foam rolling my lower body twice a day about a week ago. My legs felt like putty the morning after the first day but a lot of the knots were gone and my muscles feel significantly more relaxed after I foam roll now. I think the best thing about rolling was that it brought awareness to tightness in areas I didn't think were tight. I would never have thought there were knots in my glutes had I not used the foam roller.
Strength Training for Runners. Part of the reason I neglected focusing on lower body strength was because I didn't want to exhaust my legs and go for a run the next day. Since I was running Tues, Thurs and Saturday that only left Sunday to really work my legs and that was the day after my long run! I've now read enough that I feel it will be okay for me to do some strength routines for runners on Mon or Wed and make my run the next day my shortest one of the week. I'm going to start doing this ITB Rehab Routine from Jason at StrengthRunning. I will also start incorporating this Stability, Core and Strength Circuit for Runners from Jen (can you tell I love her?)
Finally, after long runs, I've found it very helpful to soak in a bath with epsom salts, ice my knee and put heat on my glutes/IT band.
With the 10 minutes of stretching I do before and after my runs plus a 10 minute walking warm-up even a 3 mile run now takes over an hour.
It couldn't be more worth it.
Runners World Guide to Foam Rolling
Gaiam Life Best Ways to Ease Knee Pain
Runners World Glute Strength Moves