The Bright Side of Injury

Through the depths of frustration, anguish, and the depressive state that I sometimes find myself in secondary to a deficiency of endorphins, I have found a silver lining. After spending the better part of the off-season struggling with an injury (then illness, then injury, and then yet another injury), I have resolved to not let it drag me down, instead it is an opportunity. And no, not an opportunity to spend my Saturday nights at the bars and become a slothful couch potato, but instead I have a chance to take a step back and get in touch with my body in new ways that do not involve putting it through the rigors of intense training. To follow-up my post from last week, you could say I have reached the acceptance phase. 

Obviously dialing back and rest is part of dealing with injury, but that is only a minuscule part of rehab. Since my (self-) diagnosis of pattelofemoral , also known as runner’s knee, I have started doing some strengthening exercises targeted at building up hip and quadriceps strength. Some of the exercises are from the article on Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome on the Running Writings site, as well as the exercises for hip strengthening on Runners Connect; I also drew from the strength training routine of my college track days.

Through doing these simple exercises, some striking weaknesses have been revealed, especially in my left hip stabilizers and external rotators-the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, piriformis, gemellus muscles, and obturator internus. Weaknesses in these muscles is also thought to contribute to Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), and I believe that my chronically tight ITB, from all the biking and running, has caused it to adhere to my Vastus Lateralis muscle and thus cause my patella to track improperly on my femur. Then boom pattellofemoral, after a little too much mountain biking with my seat too low, followed by a little bit too big of a jump in training, all compounded with the stress of an intense inpatient sub-internship.

Part of my healing process has involved some Active Release and Graston treatment with Dr. Johnny and his partners at Advanced Sports Chiropractic. Dr. Johnny, who is an accomplished triathlete and runner, confirmed my self-diagnosis and assessment of my injury, and he also found several other mischievous things going on in my lower extremities, not surprising. When I injured my back recently I also started seeing Dr. Matt at Wolfson Wellness Family Chiropractic, and he is working magic to quite literally straighten things out. All of my providers have an incredible enthusiasm for helping to get me better, and truly make me feel like we are all in this together.

While I am feeling anxious about how little I have been able to train in preparation for my first season racing as a pro, fortunately it is only January, and better that all this is happening now instead of the middle of the season. That would be devastating. The off season is for working on weaknesses after all. Although these were not exactly the weaknesses I was expecting to focus my time strengthening.

I am happy to report that I have noticed a difference in just a few days of doing my routine, which is incredibly encouraging and I will imminently get back into the full swing of training. The downtime from training has also afforded me the opportunity to do Whole 30 so that I can eat really healthy, give my body a metabolic reset, and also transform my relationship with food.

Because of my injuries, I am learning valuable lessons about myself, my body, and the intricacies of how my state of mind and stress affects my body. These are things that I would not have learned while in the depths of a training block, where the Band-Aid approach would be used to get back on track. Instead of putting a finger in the dike, I can go back and rebuild and strengthen the whole foundation. I am embracing this setback as an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments and prepare for my comeback.