Sunday, August 9, 2009

What a Pain in the A**!


Thursday after my promising run I sat on the sofa and worked on my laptop. When I got up my hips were kind of stiff and my lower back was kind of tight. I didn't think much of it. Since getting back into marathon training mode I have been religiously doing my core strengthening routine and didn't miss a session despite my discomfort. By Friday night I was getting out of a chair like an old man. My lower back was so sore and stiff. I was supposed to run 14 on Saturday morning, but was saved by crappy weather. I figured I would just postpone until Sunday.

As the day went on my back was worse and worse. I was taking fistfuls of Advil. And groaning. I decided to go for a short (4 mile) run at an easy pace. It actually felt fine. Then I got home and sat around and it got worse. Saturday night was miserable. My back was so bad it woke me up at 3 AM. I could not get comfortable and I could barely get myself standing upright when I got out of bed. It got so bad I took my last vicodin and hoped for relief.

While I waited for the vicodin to kick in I started to panic. I have a history of chronic back pain. When I was about 24 I had surgery for a herniated lumbar disk. Since I have been running, however, my back has never felt better and if it does feel sore, I go for a run and it feels great. This was very reminiscent of my experience prior to my surgery.

I started to self diagnose. My back really hurt right in the small of my back. Prior to surgery I had sciatica so bad I almost couldn't use my left foot, but I never felt pain in my "back." What I was feeling now was actually a good thing. It meant it was more than likely muscular. My hamstrings felt super tight, but they didn't hurt. My ass hurt. I did a little research on Runner's World, re-read Frayed Laces piriformis saga and did a little self assessment.

Yep - piriformis syndrome. I had upped my mileage and intensity too quick. Dumb.

I tried to do the recommended stretches but just could not do them. I was so tight and sore. Sunday, I skipped church since I couldn't sit for any amount of time and then stand up. Time to call in the pros - I went and got a massage.

I spent the good part of the noon hour with some strange guy's elbow planted firmly in one buttock and then the other followed by him digging deeply into my various hip flexors. Neither experience was nearly as enjoyable as it might sound and I hopefully won't have to do that again soon. But it helped a TON. (Thanks, John.)

It didn't "cure" anything, but loosened everything enough to allow me to stretch, which has already brought huge improvements.

Half-pigeon, frog prince and other hamstring and glute stretches are on the menu a few times a day until after the race. I have to dial back the mileage and intensity this week and then ramp back up more gradually. Back to basics.

Rookie mistakes, what a pain the arse.


D said...

Piriformis syndrome = skipping church? That's almost worse than "my dog ate my homework". Hope God forgives you for this one.

track_star said...

ouch. I have never had pain but my glutes/hip flexor area, especially on my left side is ALWAYS tight. My massage therapist puts me through some pain each time.

Court said...

D's comment cracked me up! Hope your ass feels better soon.

Beth said...

Ouch - hope your back is feeling better soon! Sounds like you've gotten it taken care of...nice work on catching it early... :)

Mike said...

Sorry to hear about the a**. Mine is fine and I've skipped church every sunday since Easter. Court passed along your training schedule. I've used this Runner's world one before. I was having a great experience with it in winter/spring of 2008, then got injured for 6 weeks right in the middle and missed a lot of the speedwork/tempo and shortened a lot of long runs. Despite all that I did get healthy with 3 weeks to go and PR'd in the marathon. I felt like the schedule, start to finish, was a pretty good one for marathon training. My only complaints were they don't give you any runs at marathon pace and the schedule gets a little monotonous (basically 4 or 5 runs per week, with all of them except 1 at the same pace) - those 2 issues kept me from using the schedule again even though I think it did it's job. Good luck!

Charisa said...

I do not know the frog prince one - TEACH!!!! And how are you saved by crappy weather? I need to move somewhere where I can get this :) Oh wait, that's why we moved to San Diego, never mind!!

Maggs said...

Oh man, I'm just getting over piriformis. Took 3 weeks of ART, a chiropractor, a massage therapist who looked like she was on the east german weightlifting team, an acupunturist, a tennis ball, and then some good flexeril. I suggest the flexeril first, helps with the east german.

But seriously, hope it gets better soon. It really does suck.