There are so many things to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time. One thing that I am thankful for this year is that my back and hips have probably felt the best that they have felt in about 25 years. I can stand, sit, walk around, and go through my day without the pains that I have had since the mid 1980s. My daily life feels so much better. When I stop running for a few days it feels really good. At this point however, once I start running and particularly when I try to run fast it doesn't work so well. I seem to have lost a lot of the little bit of speed I had over the past two years.
When I do try to run fast my imbalances take over and the success I have had during the sedentary part of my day hasn't been accomplished yet. I am learning how to get out of the pain and tightness I have had in the past where once I get stuck or imblanced and my body would go through a week or two week cycle where I couldn't fix it. Now I can usually fix things in a day or two. That is all great and I feel I am on the right path to regaining some running success. One thing I have noticed this year is that after most track workouts or races my left gluteal muscles tighten up and I end up limping for a few hours or days before it calms down.
I had the same thing after yesterday's Thanksgiving 5K race at Nashua South High School. The gluteal and lower back region tightened up during the race and by the end I was limping and unable to even run a warm down. I am guessing that I get this due to my poor biomechanics and running with imbalances which leaves to a stress on the muscles. It comes when I run fast and demand more from my body in power and more specifically range of motion. So what to do?
First is a nerve flossing stretch that I really like. I previously wrote about nerve flossing here. I am working on things in my left foot and ankle that seem promising (haven't reported here yet) and that will give me more balance and effecient movement. As I make positive changes it does change the stress on the gluteal muscles (everything is connected) as I straighten up my stride. I have been trying a few new stretches and exercises for these muscles and thought I'd share them here. I am paying more attention to the piriformis nerve flossing stretch that I linked to in that post. For some reason, this time when I followed the video and did the stretch 20 times it worked a whole lot better. It seemed to be targeting exactly where I was tight so I will continue duing this one. Here is the video again:
Here is another stretch for the hip rotators and piriformis that I have never seen before. This one felt good too.
Finally, not knowing which muscle of mine is really being irritated: the piriformis, the gluteus minimus, or some other neighboring butt muscle, here is a good video explanation showing how to use a tennis ball to work on the gulteus minimus. You can use a tennis ball, a TPMassage ball, or a hard rubber ball. I use all three at different times.
Here is a good article on the anatomy of the hips and back and it shows how to use the TP Massage balls and rollers to loosen tightnesses and imblances.You could also use a tennis ball or a foam roller to do the same thing. I have had the TP Massage products for a couple of years and am learning how to responsibly use them (rather than beat myself up with them) through two of their DVD's that I recently bought. I got the Hip and Lower Back DVD and the Foot and Lower Leg DVD. Previously I had just used the Ultimate 6 book that they sold, but I work better when I see a video then read it in a book as I don't always pick up the subtle nuances and tend to do things to quick and too hard.
I ran the Great Gobbler 5k on Thanksgiving on limited mileage and no speed work and it showed. The course is a bit long (I see it is listed as a 5.25 K in the race results) and I ran 20:46 for 31st place and 2nd out of 47 in the 50-59 age group. It is a low key race so I don't think the splits and finish time are too accurate but at the one mile mark I was 6:07 and I was 12:10 at the two mile mark. Then I started passing people who had passed me in the first two miles. I was placed real well for the first 1/4 mile until Steve Wolfe bumped me at the corner around the purple shed and ruined my chance to run better and allowed 20-30 people to pass for a while! Anyhow that is 36 seconds slower than last year. It is also much worse than my 18:09 time in 2007 (shorter course) and my 18:16 in 2006. Did I really slow down that much in such a short time?