Yes, I’m entering day five of a hostage crisis. I’m being held hostage by my very own leg.
The pain came on early last Tuesday (which was odd because my last run was Saturday, so I have no idea where it came from), but I attempted two 3.5 mile runs despite that. One on Tuesday and one on Thursday. Neither was enjoyable.
So I thought I’d rest the leg and not run by skipping my Saturday run. I kept thinking it would get better and I could run on Sunday. Or Monday. Or today, my normally scheduled run day.
But it isn’t looking like it. I mentioned I thought it was my vastus lateralis, like I’m some kind of doctor. I’m not. On the muscle chart, that looked like a good candidate.
Although I keep hearing about this IT Band, which isn’t a band at all, at least they don’t play music, unless you consider the occasional groan of pain musical.
I wondered why, as a runner who read nearly every running and Fitness magazine back in the ’80s, I’d never heard of the IT Band before, and I think it’s because they’ve only recently changed their thinking about it.
It used to be thought as merely a stabilizer for the hip when walking, but now they believe it acts like a spring to aid locomotion.
Something in my left thigh from my hip down to my knee hurts and feels weak when I step on it. Running only makes the weakness and pain worse, so I can’t use the old adage, “run through the pain.”
I tried that with my shin splints back in the late ’80s. They’d burn like hell for the first few miles, but by the fifth or sixth mile, the pain went away and I could run relatively pain-free for the rest of my daily 12 mile run.
Except it got to the point where I could barely walk up stairs because of the shin splints hurt so bad. So I stopped running.
And I enjoy running. Not running makes me crabby. Not exercising makes me flabby. Getting flabby makes me more crabby. It’s a vicious circle.
Last night I decided to use this machine we have from the ’90s, like a rowing/biking kind of machine where you push with your legs and pull with your arms, but instead of your butt sliding back and forth on the seat like a typical rowing machine, the seat rises up and the whole thing works like a scissors.
They were all the rage.
I did 12 minutes on it, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a resistance machine with a variable resistance piston, and takes a lot of effort.
A lot more effort than the ones they had advertised on TV back in the day. Those seemed more like kid’s playground toys, whereas this one, bought through Sears (after our stair stepper died), is more anaerobic than aerobic.
The best part of using this machine: No pain. The action must work the muscles other than the area that is strained.
It occurs to me that if I’m suffering from a muscle imbalance versus a muscle strain from overuse, then working the muscles other than those used in running is probably very helpful.
Tonight, if my thigh is still bothering me, I’ll do some leg exercises on my old Weider Crossbow (similar to the Bowflex). Extensions to strengthen my quads and curls to do my hammies. And maybe some rowing motions as well.
And I guess I could do some upper body stuff as well.
Exercises I should have been doing all along to keep the imbalance from happening in the first place (except that the Weider Crossbow was being used as a place to keep our folded laundry. Yeah. I know. Shame on me.).
And yes, I’ve been doing various leg stretches several times a day. Stretches that focus on the thigh, the gluteus, the hammies, as well as the calves. I’m hoping I can do a short, easy run by Thursday.
It’s very disappointing to have fallen back in love with running only to have an injury sideline me.
Run. Rest. Stretch. Weight train.