Running: The Pain of Re-Training
I consider myself a runner. By no means am I a competitive runner, but I can recreationally run with the best of them. Like most runners, I go through sort of an “off-season.” There is never a time during the year where I am not running at all, but typically November through February I decrease my mileage quite a bit. I start to gear up for racing season around February, because I like to do a half marathon before the heat of the summer starts (must be my Minnesota blood).
As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, I am fully aware of the importance of slowly re-introducing activity in order to avoid injury. Despite this awareness, every year the same time I am ramping up my mileage, my hip pain returns. In my case, the primary source of my pain is due to a SI rotation. The SI is a joint in your low back area where your pelvis bone meets your butt bone. Pain due to this condition can come in many forms, including buttock pain, low back pain, and even pain in the front of the hip. I, myself, have experienced pain in all of these locations. Fortunately, with my educational background I have knowledge on how to treat this injury to ensure it does not become a problem that limits my favorite time of the year – running season.
Below are a few of the important steps I take to help improve and limit my training aches and pains.
1. Always do an active warm-up
– I like to do a brisk walk for 5 minutes before I run. An active warm-up is far more important than static stretching, because it literally warms your muscles up and prepares them for performance.
2. SI self correction (see video)
– This is a good thing to do before you run, but can also be done to alleviate pain throughout the day.
– The simplest technique is performed by bringing the knee up to the chest, and pushing the knee down into your hand (as if you were extending the hip) – should feel your buttock muscle contracting
3. Pelvic tilts (see video)
– Exercise to help strengthen abdominal and buttock muscles. Helps to stabilize the pelvis. I perform these after my run, but also throughout the day when I can.
4. Piriformis stretch (see video)
– This can be done if your pain presents in the buttock. Hold this for 30 seconds, and perform 3 repetitions
– Perform after activity only, not before
There are many other exercises that are also helpful with hip and low back pain. The above exercises are a few of the basic ones that I utilize to reduce pain and limit chronic injury. I am currently gearing up for the Minneapolis half marathon, and hope to see many of you out there on the courses this season! Leave your questions and comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.