Sometimes, running can be a real pain in the ass. Literally.
At some point while training for my last run, the Shiver by the River 10K, I learned a few new things about my body. I think when I mentioned in my opening blog post that my knees felt great, that I jinxed myself, because not long after that a few things got dicey. What did I learn?
First, I am flat-footed and was wearing the wrong running shoes. I was in a pair of Nike Lunarglide Plus‘s. But because of my flat-footed gait, I tend to pronate a bit more than I should with my left foot when in a normal stride. This was causing me to have some mild runner’s knee in my left knee, which I was complaining about a bit in my last post. I discovered this because of another rather unpleasant thing I learned about my body.
The second thing I learned is that I got myself a nice little case of piriformis syndrome. Thus the title of this post; I had a moderately annoying tight pain in the left side of my butt. At first I thought it was just muscular pain from some uphills I did either in a training run or on race day. But when it didn’t go away after a few days, I got a little concerned and sought some medical advice. It turns out that because of my uneven gait when I was running (because of the over-pronation) I caused the piriformis muscle to get irritated, and it inflamed, pinching a portion of my sciatic nerve. Ouch! Thankfully, once I knew what it was, it wasn’t that hard to alleviate. First ice. I sat on some ice packs for about 20 minutes at a time, 3 – 4 times a day. Then heat. The next day I got out the electric blanket, sat on it, and turned it on high to try and help the muscle to relax. There are also a few stretches I found online that are extremely helpful.
Piriformis Stretch 1
Piriformis Stretch 2
It took me the better part of 2 weeks to get it to finally let go and start feeling better. The next thing to do then after resting up was to get a better pair of shoes and try a few easy runs. I took a friend’s advice and took a little drive up to Emmaus (near Allentown, PA) to visit the Finish Line Running Store. Great recommendation! They have a super-knowledgeable staff and were able to see right away what was getting me in trouble. They sent me home with a pair of Asics Gel T-2000‘s. I could feel the difference right away.
I also invested in a pair of knee straps, to give my kneecaps some additional support while I re-train in my new shoes. I went with a Runner’s World Magazine recommendation and got the Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap. The straps feel great, and take the pressure off of my kneecaps extremely well.
So very cautiously, I have returned to some slow, easy training runs. I can certainly feel the difference now with better shoes and being more conscious of staying properly aligned and running with good posture. My right leg is definitely more sore after my runs because it is finally having to share the burden more evenly, which is a very good thing. There are no signs of any returning Piriformis Syndrome, which is also a very good thing. My runner’s knee is still present, but getting better. I have a few races coming up, which I am inclined to do rather than forfeit. If I race one and don’t feel good, I’m going to take a break for a while longer much to my chagrin. But I ran the last two mornings and feel really good, so I’m hoping the trend will continue for my next race this Saturday, the Quakertown Rotary 10-miler. It will be my longest distance to date. I’m being cautiously optimistic, but as of today, it’s still a go in my mind.