A piriformis injury is awful! Who knew a little muscle deep in the buttocks could have such a huge effect on one’s ability to run? I’m not entirely sure how I injured my piriformis on my right side but I was in the midst of high mileage running and doing weight training. At sometime I did irritate the muscle enough that it was painful to walk and pretty unbearable to run.
I ran on the injury for a full week. Most of my runs were very slow and the morning runs were the worst ones because my butt and hip weren’t warmed up as much. My lower back was also very tight when I tried to run. This past week I went on vacation. The family and I spent a week in Florida and we were pretty busy. I decided to not run but focus on rehab. Well, I did attempt a 2 mile run midweek and it was painful. I did make it a priority to lightly stretch and do strength training specific to my glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. I do not want to have this issue anymore!
It has been two weeks since my injury and I was finally able to run a 16 mile run this morning. I took it nice and easy but it was great to just run long again. It’s amazing what a few days of therapy can do and even a day can make a big difference. Yesterday I only made it 2 miles but today’s 16 was easier than yesterdays run by far.
What have I learned? At my age, injuries can happen at any moment. The best prevention is still listening to my body, consistent strength training (all areas as completely as I can), proper nutrition and recovery, and not pushing it with mileage too long. I admit my strength training has mostly focused on large muscle groups and not necesarily on the smaller muscle groups. There are about 600 different muscles in the human body and they are all important. Some of our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints are more crucial than others in running but don’t be surprised that just about any muscle can affect one’s ability to perform.
I had neck spasms before a state cross country meet in high school. While the spasms did stop before my race, my neck was so tight that it still effected my ability to run relaxed and well. Secondly, it has a big effect on the muscle we call our “mind”. Just this year I had some shoulder pain and it effected my ability to run because you do use your arms quite a bit. Sometimes one problem sets off a chain of issues with other areas of your body as well. For example, runners who have plantar fasciitis problems in their feet could be dealing with an issue with their calf muscles. When you calf muscles are over worked, sore, and weak, they could in turn function improperly thus leading to pain in other areas like your feet because other muscles have to work harder and compensate for changes in your movement and form.
Injuries can be good though. I needed this. I was pushing too hard too soon. Back to the drawing board to train wiser and rebuild my body into a stronger version. The rest and recovery was good and I am excited to get back into the grind of training. Someone please remind me to not do too much too soon though. Boy, do injuries remind me of how great it is to be able to run! What a privilege!