An Injured Start to the Year

The start of 2012 has already been pushing me around me around more than I hoped. After a long period of quality base training, earning money and general scheming about the year to come I am under fire from the injury gods.

My first problem began with my use (and evidently overuse) of racing flats on the road. Clompy road running shoes do terrible things to my technique and hurt my knees but racing flats allow me to achieve better technique and they feel so fast! The down side to this concept for me (and for every barefoot and minimalist runner!!!) is that unless you enjoy heel striking your calves run the risk of dying a painful death. For me, the eccentric loading and large range of motion led to slightly aggravated archilles and then after a hilly week in January they gave out. It took 3 weeks to come right, with only a few runs as I exchanged most running sessions for cycling or aqua jogging. In this time I got into a lot of icing, more stretching than usual and once mostly recovered I started with the calf raises to help strengthen and prevent re-occurrence.

My low profile racing flats - awesome until you run in them too often

My second recent injury has really put me out of action and is by far the worst injury I have experienced. 4 weeks ago I felt some pains on the outside of my left knee which was quickly determined to be my iliotibial band. 3 days later at Sprint the Bay I raced Stage 1 and 2 with only some small discomfort warming down after race 2. At 10pm that night I couldn’t walk without being in some quite intense pain on the side of my left knee. I tried to race Stage 3 the next morning but was in too much so pulled out. I could feel a sensation like sandpaper rubbing on sandpaper where my ITB attaches into the side of my knee.

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The band is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis to just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee while running but the continual rubbing of the band over the knee joint, combined with the repeated flexion and extension may cause the area to become inflamed. This doesn’t directly affect your running but the pain is very intense!

Anatomy of ITB syndrome

I have been using a hard foam roller (as a form of massaging) and stretching to help reduce tension in the band and have been icing regularly to help reduce any inflammation. It seems to be almost recovered and I am putting emphasis into strengthening exercises for my glutes as a method of prevention – and for the general benefit of my running. I have also had various people giving me great advice (thanks Tom Reynolds for giving me a thorough rundown  this afternoon) and will also see a physio next week for some final reassurance (I hope) before start running again.

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