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Not LMFAO

A Party Rock Anthem induced setback

Well if LFMAO can interpolate Rick Ross’s “Hustlin’” for their hit track then I guess I can interpolate LMFAO’s lyrics to “Everyday I’m hobblin’” – seeing as it was their hit track that has put my recovery back by another week or so…

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The (hopefully short) road to recovery

road-to-recovery

Well the good news is that the calf responded really well to the RICE treatment and it’s definitely only a grade 1 strain. I’m hoping my decision to stop my run when I felt the strain developing will mean I have limited the damage. The bad news, if you could call it that, is the swelling around the area seems to have impinged on my nerve, leaving my foot numb around the outside of my ankle and along the outer edge of my foot, but this has improved during the day.

Today I kept my calf-guard on all day to provide some compression and support and keep the blood flow up, which seems to have helped. I mean, I couldn’t exactly walk around the office with an ice pack strapped on, could I!

Tonight at home I’ll do so light stretching to assess how it feels. Given that my nerve is still impinged I figure there must still be some swelling so I’m going to continue the RICE treatment until tomorrow at least. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to swap over to heat treatment and start massage and stretching. All things being well I’ll be able to start light exercises on my calf in a few days and hopefully a light jog on the weekend.

Fingers crossed!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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It’s been a long time comin’, but now it’s here…

I’m very late in wishing you all good tidings, however I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I’ve been off blogging for some time but as you can guess from the title (and my shameless use of Springsteen), I’m back! In more ways than one…

 

Back from Beyond

I’m back from holiday. Two weeks in the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors and the sublime Cotswolds with Lovely Girlfriend and her wonderful family. Super relaxing and partly the reason for the blog-holiday – I wanted to take time off from the blog and really enjoy the time with my girlfriend in the beautiful places we stayed in. Oh, and I was super lucky and got a bunch of running swag for Christmas which I’ll be doing reviews of soon, so watch out for those.

cotswolds-blockley-trail-running-1

A photo from my early morning trail run in the forest near Blockley, UK

 

The Empire Strikes Back

I’m back at work. This isn’t as good as being on holiday…

A photo from a hike along the coast above Robin Hood's Bay, UK

A photo from a hike along the coast above Robin Hood’s Bay, UK

 

Back from the Dead

I’m back online. Two days before the Christmas break my laptop had a total meltdown, however with some assistance from the Interweb and the backup that I (thankfully) did two days before said meltdown, I was able to restore my laptop on the weekend. It will certainly make blogging easier than relying on the WordPress app on my iPhone!

 

Back in Action

I’m back running. As many of you know I’ve had a calf overuse injury (link to post here)caused by poor running form, the main problem being weak glutes and poor core activation. With some physio, and strength and running training from The Running School, last night I was signed off to return to running three times per week. I am still not allowed to do Long Slow Distance runs, but I can do short fast runs, interval training and hill work, with intervals and hill work being preferred.

A photo from a hilly trail run near Blockley, UK. I did run-walk intervals up this hill

A photo from a hilly trail run near Blockley, UK. I did run-walk intervals up this hill

Overall I’m a happy camper and looking forward to increasing my running volume again. Theoretically I still have the Paris Marathon in April, which I am hopeful about being able to run, but I’ll need to see how the next two weeks go before I make a go/no-go decision in conjunction with my Running Rehab trainer.

 

Back to the Future

Being offline for over two weeks has meant my blog reading is *way* behind! Apologies in advance for any comments I make on ‘old news‘ posts. I’m working in chronological order because I want to keep up with all your stories in the right sequence.

Me personally? I’m looking forward to 2014 and some Happy Running. I’m yet to set my goals out I need to determine if I’m doing Paris or not before planning out the rest of the year.

However, regardless of what I do or do not decide to do this year, I wish YOU all the best for your 2014 goals and look forward to another year of running, blogging and sharing with you!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Help, my run was stolen!

Ok ok. Not stolen, just ‘misplaced’ for another 10 days or so.

My bio-mechanical assessment was on Thursday night with Mike Antoniades from The Running School and the outcome of the BMA wasn’t great. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t good news.

Actually, I take that back. While the BMA showed there are definitely problems with my gait, overall it was good news. My calf injury is indeed an overuse injury caused by a bio-mechanical flaw. This is good news for me because a bio-mechanical flaw can be trained out, and if trained out properly, will leave me with the added benefit of a more efficient and less injury-prone gait. I’ve also been declared fit enough to resume bike training, so I managed a spin class the other morning as well.

So immediate news not good, but overall result is positive.

Diagnosis:
– I have a weaker glute and hamstring on my right side (as suspected)
– My core is not activating correctly, even though ‘overall’ I have good strength (not expected)

What this causes:
– When loading my right leg, my glute and core ‘fail’ and allow my left hip to drop, changing my centre of gravity from central on my spine to the left of my spine.
– The resultant ‘lean’ means my right foot must cross over my mid-line to compensate, which causes supination on my right foot and the overuse on the outside of my right calf.
– The calf injury has caused me over time to adjust my gait to compensate for this lack of propulsion from calf, glute and hamstring by over-striding. I still land on midfoot, but in front of my centre-of-gravity, which is inefficient.

What I need to fix:
– Glute and hamstring strength AND;
– Core activation.
My rearwards leg lift is good, but because of the ‘dropped’ hip I can’t get enough propulsion through my glute/hamstring as the muscles just cannot be brought to bear. It is also causing the hip pain complaints I have been having as my hip joint is not in the correct position during the loading portion of my phase.

How to fix it:
It seems my glute and hip flexor workouts, while useful, don’t include enough compound movements, i.e. movements using more than one muscle group at the same time. That is how I appear to have good overall strength, but really have weakness caused by lack of muscles working together to support one another and engage my core.

Sadly I have to admit that the problem is self inflicted. I failed to follow my own advice and dropped out strength training in my marathon build-up (laziness and a perceived lack of time), assuming that the core strength and ‘toughness’ left over from AFL would see me through. Wrong! “Pride comes before the fall” and all that…

Following my BMA we went into some rehab exercises to improve glute and core strength, and crucially, coordinated activation. These exercises were unlike anything I’ve done before. At first I was skeptical because they involve only small movements and very little weight, but I can attest to their difficulty. Well, for me anyway.

Exercise 1:
Feet standing shoulder width apart, holding a baton in the right hand. Take a small step with the left foot, with the knee slightly bent transfer the weight to the front foot, bend forwards from the hips keeping the back straight, reaching out and down with the baton, hold for two seconds before coming back up. 15 reps then repeat on the other side.

Simple exercise I know, but in the first few reps I really struggled with my balance (I.e fell over – sigh) as my core and buttocks just couldn’t seem to fire at the same time to keep my hips aligned. It showed me how ‘weak’ I really was.

Exercise 2:
Feet standing shoulder width apart, holding a baton in the right hand. Take a small step with the left foot, with the knee slightly bent transfer the weight to the front foot, bend forwards from the hips keeping the back straight, then twist to the left and hold for two seconds before returning to the starting position. 15 reps then repeat on the other side.

Again, a seemingly simple exercise, but the twist really engages the core and forces your core and glute to work together to stop you falling over. Matt pointed out to me that when doing the exercise on my right side my calf, ankle and knee ‘twitch’ a lot as my body tries to keep my balance through my lower leg to compensate for glute and core not succeeding to maintain my balance.

Exercise 3:
Feet standing shoulder width apart, holding a Swiss ball in front of you. Standing straight, take a small step with the left foot out to the diagonal, with your weight evenly distributed, twist to the left and hold for two seconds before returning to the start position. 15 reps then repeat on the other side.

I found this exercise easier as it relied less on my glute strength and the connection from glute to lower back, instead using core and upper body to maintain balance through the movement.

Exercise 4:
The fourth exercise, and not something I can do at home, was definitely the strangest. Walking backwards on an inclined treadmill. Now this was tough. It’s like walking backwards, uphill, fast. It really forces you to engage your glute and hamstrings to lift and propel your leg rearwards up the slope, and because you’re walking backwards your core is working overtime to maintain balance. So much so I had to wear a harness and be clipped into the safety rail in case I fell over!

A bizarre exercise, but I can attest that 3×15 second reps were enough to leave me with fatigued hamstrings and glutes. Much more than a set of 50 squats would do! Mike swears by it as a really good way of teaching the muscle movements and activations required to get a coordinated glute, hamstring and core activation. If difficulty is anything to judge by, he’s onto something. Before my injury I wouldn’t think twice about running 10 miles forwards, but I don’t think I covered 100 yards uphill and backwards before fatigue was setting in!

I’ve got another rehab and strength work session tomorrow night, where Mike will determine if I can run on the weekend or need to leave it a bit longer. He’s already warned me that any running in the first few weeks will be targeted on form and strength, involving short interval bursts and movements designed to train my core, glutes and hamstrings to work together, rather than being about getting mileage back in my legs.

We also discussed Paris marathon. It’s going to be tight, but if I work hard at my rehab over Christmas it will still be possible. Any thoughts of a PB at this time are fanciful because I have lost a significant amount of my base fitness over the last 8 weeks and my running over Christmas won’t be building on that. I’m also away for two weeks in a rented holiday house (it’s a tough life) without access to a gym where I could at least use a stationary bike to build my cardio base back up. These are definitely ‘first world problems’ so I’ll just do the best I can with what I have.

On another topic, I signed up for Parkrun this morning. I figure it’s a great way to do social timed runs, and 5k is going to be my maximum race distance for at least the next couple of months. I’ll probably do my first one around the end of January, to see what my fitness levels are like.

Being a newbie to the whole Parkrun scene, can anyone share any tips or their thoughts/knowledge on it?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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I’ve got itchy feet…

No, not athlete’s foot, but just as bad. It’s been 12 days since I’ve run, which I think is the longest break between runs this year. Probably even longer between runs than when I had plantar fasciitis.

My legs are getting that jumpy feeling like you get when you’re tapering.

My feet are itching to be in trainers on the sidewalk, pushing out some miles.

My mind is missing my Wednesday pre-dawn run which is more meditation than running.

20131212-184101.jpg
But, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m feeling recharged. Ready to get back into running, looking forward to the next year. Sure, there is a little trepidation about the fact I have a marathon in April and I haven’t run more than twice a week since November, but fretting about it won’t make my calf recover faster so I choose not to bother about it. I’ll take it as it comes, and at the moment recovery is the key.

So, it’s been trigger point therapy, foam rolling and more physio. For some reason the pain of the treatment is comforting. It means that the problem is being fixed, and I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in the amount of pressure I can apply to my trigger points, which is a good sign.

Tonight is my bio-mechanical assessment, so it will be good to see if there is a form or gait issue that is causing the overuse issue, and what can be done to address it. It will also give the physio a better idea of when I will be able to run again. Hopefully I can get through the next hour of running exercises without too much pain, and come out the other end with a good prognosis.

Wish me luck, and in the meantime,

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Back to earth with a crash : my Mogwai must have eaten after midnight

After recently writing that my chiropractor had signed me off as no longer needing her treatment for my back and SI, my positive mood was shattered last night when my physio confirmed what I had been dreading denying knew all along – my calf problem is more than just a niggle and I am to DO. NO. RUNNING. Seems my Mogwai has turned into a Gremlin anyway…

Someone must have eaten after midnight...

Someone must have eaten after midnight…

It’s only for three weeks at this stage, but “Boo!” all the same! There goes my plan of starting marathon training in two weeks, there goes the idea of running my age for my birthday the weekend after next, gone is my chance to run along Las Ramblas and the Barcelona beach this weekend while I’m holidaying with the parents!

Boo!

Ok, that’s enough whining and being a Negative Nigel. Time to suck it up and live by the advice I give other people all the time:
It’s an injury. Runners get injured all the time. Runners recover from injuries all the time. I should have got this sorted ages ago instead of trying to run through it. Doing the ‘no running’ time now will reward me with more fruitful running in the future.

20131205-211343.jpg

But in the meantime I feel like this…

Onwards : the diagnosis

My physio thinks my calf issue is an overuse injury, related to a weak gluteus medius on my right side and associated reduced range of motion in my hip. This is causing two things:

  • A hip which ‘collapses’ on the right side, preventing my gluteus Maximus and hamstring from developing full power, requiring more propulsion from my calf.
  • Supination on my right side, meaning insufficient pronation on foot strike and through my contact phase, loading most of my weight on the outside of my foot, overloading the outside of an already overloaded muscle.

Upwards : the treatment

Thankfully the issue with my calf is only muscular (not yet turned into a tendonopathy) so the three weeks off running is about achieving the swiftest recovery possible with aggressive treatment.

Which means pain. Lots of it. Trigger point therapy (find the knot in the muscle and PRESS until the spasm stops and the muscle relaxes), dry needling (acupuncture needles into the knots which are then manipulated to release) and deep tissue massage to stretch out the tissue after the knots have released. Then at home I need to do foam rolling on the area, along with golf ball massage and, if I can stand it, trigger point massage using my knuckles.

I also need to do a bio-mechanical assessment to ascertain in what manner the weak glute medius is affecting my gait, particularly my hip and back movement, to see where my form needs tweaking. However, this can only done when I can actually run at speed so likely to be in about a week.

Tell you what, I’m glad I went on my preemptive 30 day Hip flexor and Glute challenge. I do need to add in more exercises that focus on my glute medius, but I feel like I’ve got a bit of a head start on dealing with my glute weakness and imbalance.

 

Silver linings : finding the brighter side

Now, because I always try to find the silver lining to all situations, no running for three weeks means some good things. I can enjoy the ‘silly season’ without doing painful ‘hangover runs’ (think TinyRunner’s last post). It also means extra time in bed on Tues/Wed/Thurs mornings (we’ll see what my body thinks of pre-dawn runs come January) so for now I’m going to enjoy the lie-ins.
And, no long runs on Saturdays and associated recovery (stuffing my face and napping) period will instead give me time to do things like Christmas shopping and other stuff. Which is a very good thing because I think my girlfriend seriously worries that I’m going to go for a long run instead of buying her that handbag she wants. Let’s face it, what will all the running, the blogging and the Facebook page, her worry is not unfounded – it could have happened 😉

Happy running everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the run up to Christmas and are enjoying the ‘silly season’!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Beware the silent Mogwai : He’s the real troublemaker

Her: “Wow, your calf muscles are well developed.”
Me: “Thanks for noticing.”
Her: “It wasn’t a compliment.”
Me: “Oh… Yes, of course, sorry.”

It has been some time since I saw my chiropractor, and I had forgotten that she doesn’t remark on areas of my body unless there is a problem. Luckily for me I was face-down on the treatment table so she didn’t have to see my embarrassed look.

In my last post I mentioned that I had a few little Mogwais causing issues which I needed to sort out to prevent them becoming nasty little gremlins, the notable one being calf and associated shin pain.

What happens when I eat after midnight...

Well, it turns out that these little Mogwais were only the noisy ones. There were a couple of quiet ones hiding in the shadows waiting to cause havoc…a weak butt and tight hip flexors.

Unfortunately, my overdeveloped calf muscles are not the result of genetic luck, they are a symptom of requiring too much propulsion from my calves. Turns out my glutes and hamstrings are the culprits, by not providing the ‘missing’ propulsion. It’s not all their fault though. The real villain is my hip-flexors – they are very tight, which prevents my glutes/hamstrings from ‘pulling’ my leg back, meaning that I ‘drive’ my leg back through my quads and use my calf muscles to generate power at the end of my stride.

Further, the tight hip flexors ’tilt’ my pelvis forward, which has caused the muscles in my lower back to become stretched. I learned that it is these lower back muscles that assist in preventing lower back pain (which I get when standing for even a short period of time) and, crucially, weakness in these muscles can prevent the gluteus medius muscles from firing. Kind of a double whammy really.

The prescription?

  • Hip flexor stretches to open my hips
  • Lower back exercises to strengthen and shorten the muscles
  • Strength exercises focussing on my glutes and hamstrings

I’ve set myself a ’30 day challenge’ to do my stretches and exercises every day for the next 30 days, which will take me through to 17th December, which is also the date of the first run of my next marathon build-up.

I have to admit that is cutting it fine to be focussing on fixing a muscular imbalance issue at the same time as building up to a marathon training phase, but for the time being I will just have to keep the running reduced while I build up the volume of these exercises – I don’t want to overload my glutes and hamstrings and risk injury.

It’s not all bad news though. I was also complaining of some SI joint pain. I was relieved to hear from my chiropractor that my SI joint is moving freely, the pain was being referred from my lower black and gluteus medius muscle, so the treatment of my hip flexor and glutes/hamstring should resolve this issue.

Back in your box little buddy...

Back in your box little buddy…

Fingers crossed dealing with my hip flexor and glutes will resolve my calf issue and other little Mogwais, and if I’m lucky, make me a better runner.

Is anyone else battling a couple of little Mogwais at the moment?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Plantar Fasciitis : The recovery is complete

bernie-plantar-fascia

Without wanting to jinx anything, I’ve thankfully managed to recover from my plantar fasciitis, and I thought I would (finally) complete my page about plantar fasciitis.

I hope anyone who has or suffers from plantar fasciitis finds it useful!

In other news, tomorrow is Day 1 of marathon training. Gulp…

Bernie,

Get Going, Get Running!

Ankle injury : Rehabilitation commences. Or: the test of stupid…

While at the physiotherapist today for an ongoing hamstring issue I mentioned my ankle sprain to my physio. She did a quick assessment and confirmed for me that it was a grade 1 sprain of the ATFL in the lateral ligament area.

An image of the lateral ligament complex highlighting the ATFL

Image credit

On the plus side, it turned out my ankle mobility was good (thanks to all the alphabet writing!) and strength did not seem impaired. All good news, until:

Her: “You’ll be fine for your game next weekend.

Me: “No, my game is this weekend.

Her: “Um…No, it’s not…

Me: “Oh…

Continues: “On a scale of 1 to ‘stupid’ how bad would it be if I played?

Her: “Pretty stupid. Not Darwin Award stupid, but stupid.

Me: “So not a good idea then?”

Her response was to start dry-needling my hamstring instead. Point made. (Very droll pun – I know).

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Ankle injury : the recovery continues but life must go on

It’s been one of those days where all the things you need to do for recovery from an ankle injury are exactly the things you can’t do.

Today I spent over half the day touring around London with my client looking at office fit-outs for examples of the good, bad and downright ugly. Poor choice for a sprained ankle but not going wasn’t an option.

And to top it off, tonight I went to a gig (Catpower – excellent!) with 3 hours of standing.

All great stuff for an ankle! Not…

Anyway, the moral of this little story is ‘life goes on‘.

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