School started for me on Monday. I have to work to get myself back into a studying mindset. I did some assigned reading last night and today I am hoping to find some time to work on my first assignment. It baffles me that I have a Bachelor’s Degree….in English, no less, and I still have to take a Written Communication course. And to make matters worse, it is geared toward technical writing. Ick. I’m really going to try to make all my writing assignments relate to something interesting. If I have to write operations manuals, I’ll probably end up hanging myself from the ceiling fan.
In other news….yesterday was my first physcial therapy evaluation for my hip pain. (you can check out the Sports Medicine appointment here.) I met with the therapist for an initial evaluation where she asked me a ton of questions regarding the origin of the pain, my running history and the like. Then she did some strength and stability tests comparing my left leg to my right. Following that, she had me get on the treadmill for some easy running to check the biomechanics of my stride.
Originally, the Sports Medicine doctor thought that the problem probably originated from the way I run…meaning that if I could alter my gait or stride, I could get rid of the pain. The therapist, however, didn’t see any problems with my stride (other than the fact that I tend to ‘whip’ my right leg around a bit). She was looking for any dropping of my left hip when I ran that would be an indication of where the pain was coming from. She didn’t see any. And when she checked my alignment…spine, hips, knees, ankles…everything was relatively good.
I was glad that the problem wasn’t biomechanical. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to try to consciously change the way that I run. Typically when I’m running, I completely zone out and just put one foot in front of the other. It would take a lot of concentration and effort to think about each footfall.
The problems she did see, were strength and stability related. The muscles and tendons on my left side (hamstrings, quads, IT band, glutes, etc.) are not as strong as the muscles and tendons on my right side. After talking with the therapist, we weren’t sure whether this was because the pain led to muscle weakness or if it was the muscle weakness that led to the pain. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
We did discuss the possibility of changing where I run. It is better to run on the treadmill because of the softer surface. Also, the treadmill is an even surface where I don’t have to worry about one leg striking the ground slightly lower than the other. This is what happens when I run on the road. I don’t run on the sidewalks because the surface is much harder (and I don’t need that extra pounding on my joints) and because the sidewalks in Colby are not very well maintained and could be dangerous if I’m not paying very close attention. So, I run on the road; facing traffic. Because the roads are banked slightly, my left leg falls a bit further with each step. Multiply that by millions of steps in marathon training, and you have the recipe for some problems.
The therapist asked if there was a way for me to alter the side of the road I run on. Of course, we discussed the safety implications of this. It is always safest to run facing traffic. However, on some of my favorite routes, there are long, flat, straight stretches of road, where I can clearly see traffic and they can clearly see me. The therapist suggested that on those particular stretches of road, it might be beneficial for me to run on the right side of the road.
But the most interesting part of the conversation for me was when she looked at my shoes. I had brought along one pair of my running shoes. I have two pair and I tend to alternate them when I run. She took one look at the soles of the shoes and said “You don’t run in those, do you?” Granted, the shoes I brought along were the older of the two pair, but I still wore them regularly and I had run last weekend’s half marathon in them. When I got home, I looked at my training log and started figuring out how many miles I actually had on those shoes (and how many were on my other pair…which are also showing signs of wear, but not as bad). After doing the math, I figured that the shoes had about 550 miles on them! I know that shoes should be replaced about every 350-500 miles. I guess I just underestimated how much I was running! So, I did some research online yesterday to find the cheapest place to get my shoes and come payday, they will be shipped to me. I’m hoping to get them broken in so I can wear them for the marathon…in 25 days!!