injured runner

Bestest finds of the week

by lachicaruns on

There’s the bestest and then there’s better. Balance, that is.

And this Runner’s World piece shows you three quick exercises that take just four minutes. All you need is a band, which I happen to have, to improve your balance, which I happen to lack.

I should do something about that.

Shin splints (she types and shudders)

When I first started running, I got shin splints really bad. I was so new, I didn’t even know what it was or what to do about it.

That’s where Women’s Running comes in. This piece by Dr. Jeffrey Sankoff does a great job explaining what they are and what to do about them. In my case, some rest and proper shoes made a huge difference and I’ve not had that problem since.

We don’t need to stinkin’ reasons to eat cherries

Those of us who live in the Michigan tundra and who look forward to summer all winter long are rewarded with the best cherries you’ve ever tasted. They’re, in a word, perfect.

But those of you who aren’t so fortunate to have had that experience and may benefit from some convincing may want to read this Women’s Running piece touting the virtues of the humble — yet yummy — cherry.

But I needed a reason to order one more thing from Skirt Sports

OK, not really. But I have been eyeballing this visor, which my friend Brandess has encouraged me to try.

Then I came across this Competitor magazine piece that rates visors a bit higher than hats for running in the heat.

Now I have some scientific (sorta, OK one coach’s opinion) proof that I need to order the visor.

Note: I was not compensated for mentioning Skirt Sports in this post, but I am a Skirt Sports ambassador captain. If you want to get 20 percent off your next regular-price purchase (a visor, perhaps), use code SSLCR20.

Did you find any great stuff this week? What was your favorite running-related story or blog post (including your own)?




Although I often stretch after returning home from a run, I rarely take the time to do so beforehand, or properly. I came across this piece in Running Times this week while reading another piece on how to avoid running mistakes.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth getting a reminder, especially for those of us who are injury prone.

Could this BE any funnier?

Best show ever? Someone’s obviously never watched MASH, but this piece showing Friends gifs still made me chuckle.

Safety first

I’m a ninja, so I feel confident and comfortable running by myself, but there were some reports of problem dogs in our neighborhood, so I started carrying pepper spray.

It really concerns me that a woman can’t feel safe running by herself anywhere, but having grown up in a big city, I’m also realistic and practical.

This Women’s Running piece by Natalie Diblasio makes some great points and provides information on two new-to-me types of items to help runners feel — and become — safer.

Advice I could have used, so I’m making sure you have it

I started marathon training way too early for a September race in part so I could run a virtual half marathon with my friend Brandess. But then I didn’t know how to adjust my training, so I repeated about three weeks with no particular plan before getting back on the wagon.

Here’s some advice from a Runner’s World expert on how to adapt your training if you have some additional time before your race.

And we have no winner

I offered up a free Skirt Sports visor for commenting on my previous Bestest Finds of the Week post but, alas, got no bites. I’ll give it another try sometime soon.

In the meantime, feel free to leave me a comment below on why you haven’t commented before. (See what I did there?)

Did you find any good running-related pieces this week? What’s your favorite TV show? 

Are we really odd?

by lachicaruns on

Left my favorite doc’s office today with renewed hope and a straight back. Dr. Awesome has finally gotten me to where I can go days with almost no piriformis muscle pain.

I’m back to running with some increase in mileage each week. In fact, just this week I added a fourth short run to the rotation, with my long run still slotted for the weekend.

I had a big smile on my face as I checked out of the office. The genuinely lovely front-desk scheduler noticed and commented on my mood and apparent improvement.

Why, yes, I said. I’m feeling much better and am happiest that I  am back to running thanks to Dr. Awesome, aka Dr. Miracleworker.

“Oh, you’re a runner,” she said, with the same intonation saved for people known to kick puppies. “You’re all going to keep us in business forever,” she added cheerfully.

Wait, what?!

Granted, a lot of the runners I know have back problems, knee pain, foot pain or other ailments. But so do most of my friends and family who — wait for it — don’t run. Or who just don’t exercise at all.

So why is it that we’re labeled as crazy for doing exercise that has such a positive impact on our overall health?

Yes, Runner’s World Magazine has a plethora of injury-related articles in each issue. And no conversation between more than one runner will end without a discussion of everyone’s ailments and treatments.

But is running really that injury-inducing? Or are we getting a bad rap?

I remember tae kwon do taking out many a classmate at my local dojang. People broke bones, twisted ankles and went home with bruises. Our favorite saying was “well, it ain’t bowling!” I don’t remember anyone judging me for doing a sport where there was a serious risk of injury. Instead, I was mostly spoken to in tones reserved for people who jump over tall buildings.

So why the runner hate? It’s certainly something I’ll be looking into in the coming days. You know, in between my runs.

hey girl

Have you experienced some head shaking from non-runners? Why do you think that is? What’s a proper response?


Even a twinge of pain can set this fearless (read: pig-headed) runner off immediately into the first four stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining and depression.

So a year ago when I had severe pain in my left butt cheek that radiated down my leg, I was in a panic. But instead of doing what I needed to do to heal, I spent about nine months in a loop that kept me from the final stage: acceptance.

Spoiler alert: you don’t have to suffer like I did.

When I started this crazy cycle, I was training for my first half marathon and ramping up my mileage with gusto. The diagnosis from my sports medicine physician’s assistant: piriformis syndrome.

The piriformis is a muscle in your butt near the top of the hip-joint that is key in stabilizing the joint when we walk or run. And because the sciatic nerve runs through – or right next to – this muscle and down the leg, when the muscle spasms, it can compress the nerve. Translation: when the butt muscle is irritated, ouch!

The culprit? Typically, it’s over-use, according to Dr. Mark Russell, an orthopedics and sports medicine specialist with Bronson Healthcare in southwest Michigan. Too much running, for example, and not enough cross training to give those muscles a break and to help build core strength.

So what’s a runner chico or chica who has muscle pain the gluteal area to do?

Sometimes, Dr. Russell said, it can be as simple as getting different running shoes to accommodate the runner’s gait. A gait analysis can help, he added, if you want to make sure you’re picking the right running shoe. He also recommends runners stretch before and after runs, and warm up before running.

Treatment typically starts with physical therapy to stretch the muscle and exercises to strengthen any weakness in the hips or other areas that could be contributing to the problem. Cortisone shots can help with the pain as can anti-inflammatory pain relievers like Naproxen, heating pads and the dreaded “R” word: rest.

Some doctors have had good success with Botox shots, Dr. Russell added, with surgery usually only done as a last resort.

My current doctor, a manipulative medicine expert at Michigan State University whom I adore, also recommended I spend some quality time with my foam roller and a tennis ball on the ground, rolling each on the areas that hurt the most. Yeah, it’s about as fun as it sounds.

If you have been having similar pain, here are some tips to get you from denial to acceptance and back on the road quicker:

  1. Don’t ignore the pain. If caught early, Dr. Russell says, piriformis syndrome can resolve in as little as six weeks.
  2. Don’t self-diagnose. Several other things, including a labral tear, a jacked-up sacrum (doctors call that sacral torsion) or a herniated disk can also cause pain in that general area. Only your health-care professional can rule out other causes.
  3. Don’t ignore your doctor’s advice. Do what he or she tells you, even when he or she says the dreaded words: take a break. Dum-dum over here waited until she could barely walk before doing as she was told and is just now getting better.
  4. Don’t skip a step. If you’re not putting in the time to recover, you’re just not going to get better no matter how many specialists you see.

As for me, I only got better when I accepted that this was something that needed attention. I had a diagnosis from the beginning, but I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. That didn’t work out so well.

Contrast that to the past three months, when I have been doing exactly as I am told. I am doing my stretches; getting re-acquainted with the foam roller; using a heating pad when things flare up a bit; discovered yoga and Jillian Michaels workout DVDs for core strength; and am resting when my body complains. And – wait for it – am feeling well enough that I am running again.

In fact, just a couple of nights ago I had one of the best runs I have had in months. One of those runs where I was thinking about everything but running. Not about hurting. Not about when the run would end. And most definitely not about stopping.

Dare I say that I’m back? The next few weeks will tell. In the meantime, I’m signing up for a half marathon this fall, just in case. But should I notice any pain, I’m taking care of the bottom line first.

Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in Do check out his blog for lots of great resources for runners. 

OK, chicos and chicas, let’s see a show of hands: Do you stretch and warm up before you run?

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Yeah, well, then. I didn’t use to either.

These days I do warm up before I run, but that’s a recent development and part of my get-my-butt-not-to-hurt-so-I-can-keep-running plan. It’s working, but I do need to make the time to start stretching before my runs, not just afterward.

To that end, here is a series of dynamic warm-up stretches from Bianca Guess, a Lansing, Mich., based fitness instructor and certified running coach through the USA Track and Field Association:

dynamic stretches 1 dynamic stretches 2 dynamic stretches 3

The whole series should take less than 10 minutes. That seems like forever when you’re already tight on time to go for your run. But getting injured is really going to cramp our style even more, no?

Dynamic stretching is one of Guess’ rules of running, which also include having a running plan that allows for flexibility to accommodate real life and strength training to prevent injury and improve performance.

I’ll feature her full list in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

C’mon, are you really going to start warming up and stretching before your runs? What other things do you know you should do, but just don’t?