Category: injuries (page 2 of 2)

This might be slightly awkward, part 1

Can we talk a little bit about things that are maybe a little bit uncomfortable to talk about? Like peeing when you sneeze? Birthing babies and needing stitches from it? And all the little joys that come (or don’t) from such an experience? I bring this up because months ago a friend of mine asked if I knew of anything besides Kegels that might help with the urgent need to find a restroom whenever she ran down a hill. I didn’t. Kegels was the only thing I’d heard of, and I couldn’t find anything else that might help.

But now I have: squats, lunges, and anything else that work your glutes. Glutes are, apparently, the opposing muscle group to the pelvic floor. If the glutes aren’t strong enough, the pelvic floor is too short and thus unable to do its job properly. Read more about it here. I only read about it last week, so I can’t say that I’ve tried it and it works or anything like that, but for those of you who may have thought your days of jumping on a trampoline were over, it is worth a shot. And even if you still find yourself leaking at inconvenient times (like whenever you laugh really hard), at least you’ll have a nice butt, right? Personally, I’m up for it if it means I have a better chance of not tearing the next time I birth a baby.

So . . . just a random thoughts for the day. Take it or leave it. I hope somebody gets something out of it so I didn’t cause all this awkwardness for nothing.

Tune in Wednesday for another installment of “This might be slightly awakward.” I promise, it is really only awkward for me, but there might be something beneficial for some others of you as well. I hope.

Tuesday Training Tip: It’s in the Hips

Whenever my sisters and I get together there is usually some hip action going on. One of them will come stand next to me, pop her hip, and suddenly I’m halfway across the room. I try my best to battle back, but my hips just don’t pack the punch that some of my sisters’ do. Which is not to say my hips haven’t done enough for me. They keep my pants up pretty well. They’ve helped me carry and deliver and carry (again) two little boys. And they’ve run with me for thousands of miles without too much complaining.

Yep, my hips have earned their keep, and I try to take care of them in return. Because if I don’t, they might rebel. And if they are put out, they can cause all sorts of problems. Back in March, when I had that weird pain (which turned out to be a big fat knot that needed lots and lots of massaging and foam rolling), the sports doctor that I went to said that it was likely caused by weakness in my hips. So many of her runner-patients, she said, had weak hips. Weak hips can cause problems all the way down your legs. In your IT band, your knees, your tendons, your feet. The whole shebang.

Luckily, strengthening your hips is relatively easy. At least in my opinion. Yes, it takes some time, but you can lie down while you do it. And watch tv if you want. Allow me to share with you the one exercise that, if you have only a few minutes, should be the one you do so that you can keep running, injury-free.

Side-lying leg lift: Lie on your side with your legs straight and your hips stacked on top of each other. Lift and lower the top leg, maintaining control of the movement. Do three sets of 10-15 reps. Roll over to the other side and do the other leg.

The 10 Percent Rule is Dead

We’re home. We took the red eye last night. When I realized I’d booked a flight for myself and two small children at 11:30 at night, I wondered what on earth had possessed me to do such a thing. But when they both fell asleep minutes after take-off, I realized I was actually a genius. That means, of course, that I didn’t actually get any sleep myself, but after breakfast this morning, I let Squish cry himself back to sleep so I could get some shut-eye. If it weren’t for a very persistent FedEx guy, I might still be sleeping.

Anyway it feels good to be home and I look forward to making Micah get up with the boys while they adjust to being in their own beds over the next week. But that’s not what I came here to talk about today. I came here to talk about rules. Specifically, the 10 percent rule. If you have done any serious running/training at any point in your life you have probably heard of this rule. It’s the one that says you should only increase your training mileage/time by 10 percent per week if you want to avoid injury.

It seems like a harmless enough rule, right? I mean, it’s probably wise to let your body gradually adjust to increased mileage. Wise, perhaps, but boring. And not for the impatient among us. Because while it seems like a good idea, what if you’ve only been running 6 miles a week and you are training for a marathon? It’s going to take you forever to build up to the kind of mileage that’ll get you across the line. And I don’t like to wait forever. I’d rather just take my chances with injury, thank you very much, and increase my mileage as I see fit. And to heck with the ten percent rule.

And guess what! It appears as though the 10 percent may indeed be going to heck. Meaning it’s a bunch of bunk. Turns out, recent studies have shown that you’re just as likely to get injured if you increase your mileage by 10 percent per week as if you increase it more rapidly. Running injuries, it seems, are less about increasing mileage and more about adaptation. The trick to overcoming them is to not necessarily to take it more slowly, but to make adjustments (with strength-training, cross-training, flexibility-training, etc.) so you can keep going. If you get injured, listen to your body, learn from it, and go back out there and keep trying.

At least that’s what the New York Times tells me, and I’m too tired to think for myself so let’s hope they’re right.

Foam Sweet Foam

We started running, in part, because we were poor. Running is kind to poor people. You don’t really need any special gear, and the older and rattier your workout clothes are, the better. Sure, a pair of running shoes will cost you nearly $100, but when you are just getting started, you’re more than happy to settle for the $30 knock-off brand. Because at it’s most basic, pure level, running is about you and your path. You breathe the air, you enjoy the scenery, you feel your body in a way that you don’t normally do, and you think clean, pure, strengthening thoughts (when you aren’t silently cursing stray dogs or pebbles in your shoe or people meandering into your way). Just you and the road, plain and simple.

Or maybe it’s not that simple. Because you get bored. You want to go faster. You develop aches and pains. You wonder what it would be like to try a different shoe, and then you realize that what your socks are made out of can make a huge difference, and you think maybe you’d be a better runner if you swallowed some gel every now and then. And gradually running becomes a complex balance of simplicity and comfort, of primal need and technological excess, of basic health and overexertion.

Over the past year or so, Micah and I have been exploring that spectrum. We’ve gone from, “all we need are shoes, shirts, and shorts” runners, to Garmin-wearing, minimalist-shod, splits-obsessed runners. The latest addition to our little nest of gear is a foam roller. I had hardly heard of this a year ago, but after a week of using it, I’m pretty much converted and would love to evangelize anyone to the benefits of rolling out your legs after a hard run. Remember that “injury” I was worried about? I’d been ice massaging it and rolling it with my (stainless steel) water bottle, and it wasn’t getting any worse . . . but it wasn’t much better either. And then I rolled it out a couple of times with the foam roller and I can hardly feel it any more. And remember my long run on Saturday, and how I hardly felt sore the next day? I credit that, partially, to the roller.

Every day I get a “Kick in the Butt” from Runner’s World, delivered straight to my electronic mailbox. And the other day when I got this one, courtesy of John Bingham (aka The Penguin), I had to laugh. “Of course, I know all the gear in the world won’t make me a better runner. Only time and effort do that. But all the gadgets over the years have sure made my training a lot more interesting — and fun.”

Yes indeed. And while running may not be exactly be our “poor man’s sport” any more, maybe we can comfort ourselves by rolling out our muscles with our “poor man’s masseur” (after all, it only cost $20).

(Squish wore that helmet all afternoon. Just because he wanted to.)

Tuesday Training Tip: Don’t Let an Injury Keep You Down*

Friends, I have some sad news. Micah is injured. Runner’s knee has been plaguing him for the past few weeks, and as a result, he’s done hardly any running. Our fingers are crossed that all will be well by the end of the month and he’ll be able to get a few more weeks of training in. In the mean time, he is icing and stretching and popping anti-inflammatories.

Oh, and playing Ultimate frisbee, pain-free.

Weird.

We’re not exactly sure how running is different from running while chasing a frisbee, but apparently it is different enough to keep Micah’s knees from acting like they are 100 years old. Maybe it was using sprinting muscles. Maybe it was the softer surface of the playing field. Maybe it was that he was so focused on getting that disc that he was able to shut out any pain.

Whatever it was, hooray. Because it allowed him to run for 90 minutes when he hadn’t been able to go more than a mile without feeling those knees. And that means he’s able to keep up his fitness level even if he’s not training.

Again, hooray.

Which brings me to the point of this post: Injuries are a pain. They are scary and annoying and need special care. But they don’t necessarily mean you are broken. There is usually something you can do to maintain your fitness while you nurse your injury: swimming, cycling, yoga, weight-lifting, tennis, Ultimate frisbee. You might be surprised at what you can do. I know Micah was.

*If it hurts to do something, don’t do it. If it keeps hurting, see a doctor. That’s my advice. Take it or leave it.

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