Then I ran an easy 10K in the COLD and felt my L iliotibial band starting to tighten up. I blamed it on the cold, but it scared me because 10 years ago I had the same thing happen and it sidelined me for months.
A week later I finally got back to the gym for the first time since the accident and during my usual single leg stance balance and lunge exercises I could NOT stand on 1 foot for the life of me, especially the R foot. I was struggling and looked like I was standing on quicksand. It had been too long since my last workout and I left feeling weak. I hate feeling weak.
Then yesterday I did my long run and after only 5K I felt the peroneal tendons in my L ankle start to ache. After the run my L achilles seized up. As I hobbled up the stairs to get food I wondered if I was falling apart a mere 3 weeks into my year long training schedule.
Then I looked in the mirror. Those constant hunger pains had left me with some nicely developing abs. No I do not spend long hours gazing in the mirror at myself. But the trained physio eye in me did note that my abs were not symmetrical. My R abdominals were more active, my L abs underactive, my hips were sitting at different heights. A light switch came on.
My pelvis was out! I did a few quick landmark measurements on myself and all of a sudden things made sense. I was NOT falling apart. I was just not quite together. In my pelvis that is.
Way back in 2004 I struggled during my first marathon training season through severe left IT band syndrome. I had tried EVERYTHING to treat it, but it only resolved when I discovered that my left sacroiliac joint was totally locked which made my pelvis dysfunctional. Once that was treated, I ran the marathon (relatively) pain-free.
I could tell the same thing was happening again. And it all started a few short weeks ago after being rear-ended with my R foot on the brake. After a quick check-up by a coworker this morning here's a summary:
1) L leg longer 1/2"
2) L side of pelvis rotated forward
3) L SI joint very stiff
4) R SI joint very mobile (unstable)
5) hip flexors totally locked down
It is notable that since the accident I have not felt ANY low back or pelvic pain. Upper back and neck pain yes, but no pelvic pain. But there was a waterfall effect down my legs that started to create a mess all over the floor given enough time.
Result: A quick treatment at Foundation Rehabilitation Services @ The Pan Am Clinic where I work, and a lot of focused stretching and self muscle releases and I worked out today feeling like a rock. Solid and stable on one leg and very much relieved that I had paid attention to the warning signs that something wasn't quite right.
My warning sign: I know that I am rock solid in the single leg squat or stridder (click for video). All the time. After 2 workouts where I could not control my knee over my ankle I knew something was wrong. This is a great self-check for any runner, as long as your strength is good and you can do a single leg squat during healthy times with no difficulty!
Moral of the story: Know your body. Pay attention to your body. React when you can tell something is not quite right. I have the luxury of a trained eye and years of running experience to guide my instincts, but if you are not sure what's going on, get professional help. I sure hope this is the last of my pelvic instability issues. If not, my car insurance will hear from me :)