No one wants to be sidelined by an injury. For a runner, not being able to run equates to a sort of living hell. But so often we wait until and injury is…well, just that an injury before we get help.
Last week I saw my physical therapist preemptively. I was experiencing tightness and extreme soreness in my gluteus medius in my right side. It had developed over four weeks of running: a persistent tightness that wouldn’t go away with stretching and foam rolling.
It has been my experience that chronic tightness (that isn’t resolved with tissue manipulation or stretching) is the result of a muscle doing more than it should: in other words compensating for a weaker muscle. Optimal movement happens when every muscle is carrying the load it should.
A quick biomechanical assessment from my physical therapist showed that the deep gluteal muscles that control hip rotation (piriformis, gemellus) were not “turning on” when I shifted weight onto my right leg, resulting in an internal rotation of the femur which the gluteus medius was trying to correct–thus working much harder than it should be.
It was interesting to learn that my RIGHT side was weak, considering the fact that last year I was working to strengthen the deep gluteal muscles of my LEFT side because my hamstring was chronically sore and tight due to compensating for my weakened glute. It just proves that so much can change during pregnancy, leaving your postpartum body much weaker than you might expect.
She gave me a series of exercises to perform to help strengthen that muscle and retrain the mind-body connection so that I “turn on” those muscles with each stride I run. During my runs over the weekend I tried to visualize using those deep glute muscles as “drivers” of my stride. It often meant running at a much slower pace so that my mind and body could make the proper connection. But even in just a few days I’ve noticed increased strength, increased awareness and a decrease in the soreness and tightness of my gluteus medius.
If you’ve experienced chronic soreness or tightness chances are your body is telling you something: there is weakness or imbalance somewhere than needs to be corrected. A preemptive assessment from your PT could yield some helpful information that may prevent you from being sidelined for a prolonged period of time.
Sarah is a certified running coach with the RRCA and USATF. She and her husband Mark Canney, CPT CSCS collaborate in coaching clients of all ages and abilities to help them reach their running goals. You can learn more about their coaching services HERE.
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Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com
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I am not a physical therapist, doctor or medical professional. The information expressed in this article is information I have gleaned from my own experience. If you have a running injury please consult a medical professional.