Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just Like Starting Over

"It's been so long since we've took the time"

Well I hate to bore you with continuing bad news on my injury status. (This = I'm going to bore you with my injury woes and have little concern if you like it or not) But things are not much improved.

I have about four main problems. Two hurty ankles, one hurty foot arch & heel and a persistent pain in my left glute. These are, I believe, all the result of tightness in my calves and hamstrings. Basically I'm stiff as a board and probably have more internal scar tissue than someone with a lot of internal scar tissue. (This = Ewen)

This is all the result of my hatred of stretching and ancillary exercises. I could go on fighting not to do anything outside of running but I'm going to have to face facts and start over building myself up from inside out. I'd appreciate any advice on how to go about building flexibility or if anyone knows of a sweet tasting fruit that will loosen tight muscles, please let me know.

I read an excellent quote on "speedygeoff's" site the other day. It said:

"Strength shows not only in the ability to persist but in the ability to start over"

I totally agree so I will and we'll see if I have what it takes!


  1. Stretch, massage, foam roll then stretch again. It can be fun - sort of.

  2. Yes, well Scott As I told you before but you always turn a blind ear to my suggestions check out this link
    Having said that, after pulling a calf muscle wearing 'barefoot' shoes in a 5 mile race last week I decided after what felt like a full recovery from the injury to run in my own 5k event- result the calf went again with 1/2 a mile to go---bummer!
    But you and me will be back to terrorise the massive :0}
    did meet a very nice girl at the 5k so all is not lost!

  3. Rick thanks and you know I've never turned a "blind ear" to yours or anyones suggestions!

    And Char thanks too but I tried one of those "foam rolls" and it tasted bloody horrible!

  4. That foam roll joke was better than your usual Twitter ones Senator. But don't take that as encouragement!

    I'm only tight due to my Scottish heritage - not because of a history of running 200 miles a week in light shoes on concrete bike paths ;)

  5. The trigger point self massage works for Marty - maybe you should talk to him.

    I'm going to be very contrary here, but...two things.
    One - Why does pain in ankles, arch and glute come from tight calves and hamstrings? What does a tight hamstring have to do with pain in an ankle?
    And what does "tight" mean anyway? Does it mean stiff and inflexible? No one is more inflexible than me, and it doesn't affect my running at all. In fact, most distance runners are relatively inflexible. Why do we have to be flexible? We're not broad jumping or running over hurdles.
    Two - I am very anti-stretching. I believe you are either running or you are recovering from running (cross training counts as running). When you are recovering, you should not stress your tired muscles and joints. Stretching stresses your muscles and joints (because you are not a hurdler) and is therefore bad for you. And anyway, no matter how much you stretch, you (and I) will never become flexible. You would have to stretch for hours a day, every day. And even if you become flexible, so what? You can run the 110m hurdles. You need something, but it is not stretching. Rest, massage, acupuncture, physio...?
    Stretching your hamstring is not going to fix your arch and ankles. It will either do nothing or cause damage to your hamstring.

    PS: Do you ever hear of Kenyan stretching programs? No. Kenyans are either running or they are doing NOTHING.

  6. Thanks for your thoughts Bob.

    Yes, I didn't explain myself well as usual. I meant to say my tight calves are pulling on my Achilles Tendons on both feet and these are so sore that there's a general pain in the ankles as a whole. The other problem with my feet is a case of Plantar fasciitis on both.

    Yes, the bum's problem is probably not caused by the hamstrings but the hammies are sore most of the time and if anyone with strength pushes down on them I'll scream like a Banshee!

    I guess because all theses things came around the same time I'm lumping them together without much thought.

    As I said I have never done much stretching and I'm just assuming too that not doing so is the cause of my problems.

    I'll look into some trigger point massage and I got some acupuncture today so hopefully It'll fix this bum if not I'll keep working on a solution till I can run with no pain or discomfort and I can stride out when racing again.

    Thanks, and yes the Kenyans don't do much of anything but run like I'd like to!

  7. This is my 2 cent worth (or yen or pennies or what ever):

    Most of the muscle pain is caused either by DOMS (lactic acid) from over use -not you case I think) or from them contracting for the purposes of protection (stop you over using them). I am excluding a full rupture of the muscle because I think you'd know all about that).

    If the muscle is in contraction and causing pain it is either protecting itself or is being acted on by the tendons at either end. So you either have a problem with your joints (friction massage & ultrasould on the tendons) or you have a problem with the muscle (this is what all the trigger point, foam rolling and acupuncture people will have you do).

    For me (as an engineer) your legs are a mechanism (i.e. they move) and are interdependent on each other. I think that your various points of pain are just the manifestation of a single problem somewhere in the mechanism and when you find this you'll be cured (very quickly).

    My story is like this:

    I had sore quads - to the point that to touch them was painful. I also had sore glutes and I spent 2 months foam rolling to the point of bringing tears to my eyes in the deluded belief that I had 'muscle knots'. Needless to say I couldn't run either at all or fast.

    I went to the physio and he pressed and prodded and then made me roll over and put his elbow into the dimple at the bottom of your back (ass/back interface) and after this he lay me on my back and cross stretched the hips by pulling the legs diagonally across the body.

    All the quad and glute pain was gone in 3 weeks.

    The pain in the muscles was only the symptom.

    Given your fall off in performance for no drop in aerobic ability my money is on a tight transmission as opposed to the wheels (i.e. core/pelvis and not calves/feet).

  8. I share your hatred of the ancillary stuff and only stretch for a minute or two after a run. I agree with Bob that flexibility is something we don't need a lot of as relatively long distance runners. Paula Radcliffe's flexibility reduced over the decade prior to her marathoin world record.

    Richard may be onto something, very often with such disparate symptons as yours the cause could be remote. Have you sought "real" as opposed to "virtual" advice?

  9. Anonymous6:15 AM

    hi scott - i agree with grellan [and richard to an extent] that online diagnosis and self help isn't always the answer.

    trigger point [tp] can't solve all of our problems, but it can help with an awful lot. for example, my ongoing posterior hip issues and referred pain have responded particularly well to tp, but my soleus injury was a tear to the tendon and that required rest, patience and it was acupuncture that accelerated the healing process, not tp.

    all i can do is talk about my own experience of using trigger point to manage my own niggles and [ex]chronic pain issues. through trigger point i am presently enjoying a very productive training cycle and am posting some decent results.

    i strongly suspect the pain to your glutes and ankles is referred pain. for example, the pain in your ankles could be referred pain from lower leg muscles or from the foot arch.

    the thing i like most about trigger point is that from experience, if there isn't an improvement fairly quickly after using tp, it's likely trigger point can't help or you're in the wrong area. also, it is highly unlikely tp will aggravate anything, but like most things, it might take a bit of time to learn techniques. btw foam rolling is an excellent for loosening muscles prior to tp, and not a means to an end in itself.

    also agree with bob about stretching. you may have noticed i am not a kenyan or an ethiopian, but i am lazy and only do very minimal stretching to the soleus after a run but i do roll 2-3 mins each leg plus 1 min glutes, 3 times a week. tp has really helped me manage my glute and hip issues

    if you know a practitioner you can trust, i would start with a good diagnosis and take it from there

  10. Really fantastic analysis and thoughtful advice from everyone. Really appreciate you all taking the time here.

    Richard mate that is more than 2 cents worth more like gold. And Grellan thanks too, you're not the first person that has compared me to Paula Radcliffe ;)

    Marty I got those scanned Trigger Point pages, those are really terrific! I'll get on to reading them and I found that book on Amazon Japan last night so I'd order it today.

    Anyways thanks again all I'm sure this will help me and remain here as a resource to any future generations that stumble upon my blog.

  11. I am very inflexible. I have never really been into stretching. Only a tiny per cent of my running is speed work. When I feel my body is being over stressed, I back off my training. Compared to most runners I know or read about I have had very few injuries in my 40 years of running.

    That's my story and I guess I can't help you much in fixing up your immediate problems.

  12. Hope you get sorted soon Scott. Im finding that the cool down run seems to be more important than the stretching for me.If I stop after my run and stretch it makes no odds i still get sore.But if after my main run I do a mile at very easy pace and even if I dont stretch I feel way better the next day.Hope it might be of some help.