You may have read my blog 'Getting to grips with back pain' which is about how I injured my back a few years ago. At the time I had a little bit of physio (the shoemaker's kids never get shoes do they?), and I worked pretty hard on my rehab. Eventually I got back to 'normal' training and life has gone on. I've had intermittent spells of back pain since, sometimes severe, sometimes just a minor irritation, and most days I'm extremely glad that I don't have a job where I sit on my bum all day, as this would give me severe pain. Last year I took up running, had never even run around the block before then, but just really wanted to give it a go. I built up pretty slowly (I am like a turtle running through peanut butter... it aint pretty!), but I got there. But over the last year as soon as I reach about 8k my body breaks down. The back gets very stiff and a bit sore but the thing that stops me is that I usually get some sort of right leg pain: calf/ hamstring/ glute, all the same side. So debilitating I have to limp for at least a week. I do a few weeks of stretching/strengthening/ physio and then I ease back into training and get back into all my usual things. My body then seems to be able to cope for about another 8-12 weeks, and then I break down again. Repeat aforementioned process. So this time I decided to STOP acting like a patient, and dish out some of the harsh advice to myself which I regularly do to people like me.
- My body keeps running out of compensation strategies when I push it either by increasing my distance beyond 8K or increase my speed beyond Turtle in Peanut Butter pace. Compensation strategies are clever little things our bodies have been designed to do so that in cave man days you would be able to outrun the lion. Back then when you ran out of compensations for your weaknesses and misalignments you would eventually get eaten by the lion. Thankfully these days I just get laughed at by old people when I’m limping home.
- I am one of the most flexible people I know, but have some severe weaknesses in my core/ glute/ pelvis, and even my lower limb muscles could do with strengthening up a bit. Basically my addiction to cardio needs to stop, and even a lot of the circuits I’ve been doing just are not cutting it. Time for me to hit the weights. Properly. And Pilates. Seriously.
- I need my running gait and shoes re-assessed as I suspect things have changed over the last year I’ve been running. I have basically been tampering with my running gait for the past year, which I should never do, but a good analysis of the most efficient running technique for me from a good biomechanist will definitely help establish what is right for me.
In my treatment I use a lot of Lynotherapy which looks at people more in lines, rather than individual muscle groups. This makes sense to me, as everything really is connected, and what happens in my ankle obviously affects what happens in my neck. So, I’ve decided to practice what I preach, do a little bit of a diary for you all, both to document what a proper rehab plan should look like, and also to make me more accountable. I know it would be more helpful if there were videos of every exercise, but unfortunately time is sparse, and I’m training alone, so bear with me, sorry. Hope it helps!
Gorgeous day... Easter Monday. I did a PB in my Park Run two days ago, so I am feeling brilliant. Back a bit stiff but nothing serious and I am going to do a LONG run, my longest yet as its so awesome outside.
1.5 K into run right calf goes ‘ping’ and I feel like I’ve been shot. I can’t even weightbear on it. It’s not tight, it’s awful!!! I limp home.
Tape, ice, heel raise. Feel sorry for self.
April 7th-April 11th
Starts to feel better each day, limp goes in three days, back still stiff but leg is ok. No training apart from glutes, core and using foam roller.
Going crazy as I haven’t exercised properly all week and work in a cave with no fresh air so need to be outside. Calf feels 100% so decide to go for a walk... There and back 8K. When I am as far away from home as I’m going my calf tightens up and I progressively limp more and more on my way home. Left hip now sore as avoiding weightbearing on right calf. Back in agony. This is bad.
Severely limping. Get physio at work on my back, right leg, and left hip.
April 14th- April 19th
Improve during the week to the point of no limp but back is still sore. Time to sort out a proper rehab plan.
The Rehab Plan
I decide to do a Bunkie test every Monday basically for as long as I am physically active. ie till I die. The goal is to get all the lines to a count of 30, painfree. And then my goal is to keep them there.
Training each week will be :
Monday: Anterior Line training (one hour), then physio afterwards
Tuesday: Pilates DVD (45 minutes)... I have done a lot of Pilates in the past so the DVD is intermediate level, and I know all the exercises.
Wednesday: Posterior Line training (one hour)
Thursday: Pilates DVD (45 minutes)
Friday: Lateral and Medial Line training (one hour)
Here are examples of exercises for each line. Obviously there is overlap as I’m doing lots of kinetic chain exercises but it’s where the main emphasis is that makes it more of a certain ‘line’.
I tend to do three sets of everything to fatigue. Making sure that I keep good form, stopping when good form is lost and not able to correct. I do as much as possible in front of a mirror as I train alone and being bendy makes it even harder to feel where my body is in space.
The start of the rehab plan. Had some physio treatment on my leg, but other than that, just training lots is planned!
Anterior Line: 24 (L) 20 (R)
Posterior Power Line: 16 10
Posterior Stabilising Line: 6 10
Lateral Line: 20 14
Medial Line: 6 4
Training the rest of the week as per plan...
Last week I worked REALLY hard. My pain is gone in my leg, and if I was behaving like a patient I’d be off trying to run again. Back still sore, but nothing to write home about. Was very stiff by the end of the week exercising bits of me I’ve obviously been shielding for a while. Feels good to be getting strong!
Physio treatment went really well and focussed mainly on my back today. Maybe my back was sorer than I thought!
Anterior 28 25
Posterior Power 20 13
Posterior Stabilising 10 12
Lateral 22 18
Medial 9 6
Improving slowly but surely!!!
Monday 4th May
Working hard, no leg pain, back still very niggly. Feel some good improvements in strength.
Anterior 30. 30
Posterior Stabilising 16 (random leg pain) 23
posterior 90 degrees 17. 10
lateral 20. 16
medial 9. 8
bit of improvement!
feeling much stronger, really upped my exercises, back getting much easier too. Still not doing any cardio but just weights and exercises.
anterior 30. 30
PS 21. 30
p90. 21 15
lateral 15. 23
medial 7. 16
Been working really hard in the gym, feeling really strong, and also enjoying the fact that my clothes are feeling a bit looser! I haven't bothered to go near the scales as I know fat is lighter than muscle!
My Bunkies are improving which is really exciting and very motivating:
Anterior 30 30
PS 25 30
P90 21 13 (Hamstring was really sore... this worried me!)
Lateral 24 13
Medial 11 11
I'm still finding the medial line strengthening the hardest by a long way, I reckon its just not a line we use all that much and everything else compensates accordingly!
I went on a running workshop last weekend with James Dunne from Kinetic Revolution which was really good as he has loads of handy hints and tips for runners, I highly recommend his website/ social media stuff. It was reiterated to me how much I 'sit' into my hip while running, and how much harder I have to work on my posterior line to be able to get better at that. I got some great ideas for running drills. I tried some of them out at the weekend and sadly managed to pull my OTHER calf. I know this is not a proper strain as I could still walk without a limp but its pretty disheartening given the amount of work that I've been doing with all the gym work and all the Pilates (which just quietly is boring me to death, but I'm sticking with it!). It just proves that really there is no easy road, rehab sucks and I've still got a long way to go! My Bunkies are improving though:
Anterior 30 30
PS 30 30
P90 30 26
Lateral 30 25
Medial 15 13
So the calf pain has vanished and I'm feeling good although haven't attempted any more running drills. I'm absolutely killing myself in the gym and the Pilates (still boring) but what is good is how much better I'm getting at everything. It really has struck me how weak I was before and how deluded I was as to how hard I THOUGHT I was working! Ah well!
Anterior 30 30
PS 30 30
P90 23 22 (hammie still niggly!)
Lateral 30 30
Medial 19 15 (finally getting a little bit of improvement. So hard!)
Check in next week to see how I'm going! x Kate