Sunday, January 6, 2013

One Less Pain In The Butt

Like most bloggers, I never claim to be an expert.  I simply share ideas and practices that have worked for me to make my running and training more effective and enjoyable.  So be advised that in many cases, I might steer you wrong ... just the chance you take by following I guess, ha!

Up until about May of last year, I struggled with chronic tendinitis in my upper hamstring/lower glute, or High Hamstring Tendinopathy.  It plagued me almost everyday for over a year.  The pain was most notable where the upper hamstring connects to the lower pelvis, just below my glutes.  Normally it just felt like a dull ache at the connecting point.  At it's worst it was a sharp pain when I ran that radiated up into the glute.  After many runs, my butt just ached and sometimes even hurt to sit down.  And it seemed the worst after sitting in a car for long periods.

As a red-blooded American male, I try not to go to the doctor unless there is bone showing.  But early last year, I'd finally had enough and scheduled an appointment with an Active Therapy Release (ART) doctor.  Up until that point, I really wasn't of fan of Chiropractors or ART guys. Though they work wonders for some folks, they just weren't for me. But I can honestly tell you that this process made a huge difference.  My doctor is an elite level runner so we talk about many of the same interests and share different concepts about training.  Also, it's awesome that he knows the specific running related pain I'm referring to when I describe it.

My Tru-Fit freezable and heatable gel-pack, with a securable Velcro strap
Here are the three main things that finally helped me beat High Hamstring Tendinopathy ...

1. Stretching and Breaking Up Scar Tissue Through ART - Receiving treatments from an ART doctor helped target specific areas and break up scar tissue.  Full disclosure ... IT HURTS LIKE A BANSHEE SOMETIMES!!!  This guys twists and bends me in ways that I'm not sure are supposed to happen.  It's literally brought tears to my eyes on a couple of occasions.  But the treatments really break up the scar tissue and promote healing.  Keeping the hamstring stretched and loose as much as possible throughout the day really seems to increase blood flow and keep me feeling better.  Also, rolling around on a baseball or softball in the areas that are the tightest really seem to break up some of the fascia and loosen the muscle fibers, aiding in recovery and healing.

2. Icing After Workouts, But Most Importantly ... BEFORE BED - When the pain was at it's worst, I found relief from ice ... not heat. I know this is an area of some debate. But tendinitis is typically from inflammation, most often caused by overuse.  Icing the muscles reduces inflammation.  Heating the muscles increases it.  So immediately after a workout, I would ice the area for about 20 minutes.  But the main that really seemed to help was icing immediately before bed.  The body heals the most during sleep.  When you reduce the inflammation immediately before sleep, it gives the body the best opportunity to repair itself.  Many nights I fell asleep with an ice pack on my butt.  But I always felt better the next morning after I had iced the night before.

3. Slow Down - Races and up tempo workouts really seemed to aggravate the tendinitis.  Longer, slower distances seemed to make it feel better.  One of the biggest lessons I learned last year was I didn't have to go 100% all the time.  In fact, your body just can't handle this for very long.  More than ever last summer, I slowed down.  I would run about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes below marathon pace on the days when I wasn't Tempo or Speed training.  There is a whole theory related to heart rate on why this is better for you too, but the main thing I found was it just reduced the stress on my legs.  Running slower was a key component in the healing process.

So that's basically what worked for me.  The tendinitis still flares up every once in a while.  It's just one of those things that runners deal with.  In fact  my ART doctor told me that almost all of his higher level runners struggle with it from time to time.  But knowing how to effectively deal with it has made my training a whole more enjoyable and pain free.
... be great today!


  1. So if I've got a pain in my butt does that mean I'm a higher level runner too? Even if Iven or one of my kids is the pain in my butt??

    I actually do have a bit of pain in the area you describe so I'm booking up my sister, who loves to torture me,to give me the once over and make me cry. It's how families show they care.

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  3. Massage...massage...massage.
    I've also tried sitting on a tennis ball and rolling on it:) I know, sounds crazy but helps temporarily.

  4. I do the tennis ball thing too and some stretches that really help. My chiro who does ART is what made the huge difference.

  5. OMG! We're doing the Lost Dutchman Marathon too! Sweet. We're heading down from Alaska, I'm sure you'll recognize us: The man and woman with sickly white winter legs. We'll also be the ones dying in 60 degree (heat-heat-wave!)temps.
    P.S. I LOVE my Yaktrax. Couldn't survive without them. A pair typically lasts through the winter, about five months, and I treat 'em rough, too.

  6. Great post. I've been dealing with some issues myself. Icing has definitely been the key to recovery. I ice my knees after every run and before sleep. I find that at night my knees tend to ache more if I dont.

  7. Thanks for the good info! This post was very helpful to me.

  8. This ART therapy is very painful! I instantly remembered my Lamaze breathing techniques! I'm going to try the ice pre-bed time - Thanks for the advice.

  9. This is very helpful! I've been contemplating seeing a specialist about my leg pains but I wasn't sure if the treatment is worth the cost. The pains seem to be getting progressively worse which is worrying me, so i may have to find a Chiropractor Clinic in Southampton. Many thanks!

  10. I should try that too
    I have had tendinitis of the adductor (groin) since is a PITA as well...
    gets better...
    I resume normal mileage and pace
    it gets worst
    I slow down and reduce
    better and so on...
    so frustrating...I still cannot do any speedwork..slow long is better for me as well..DURING the run but after I still often pay for it...
    man...not easy being almost 44...(in 4 days I get there...!)

  11. you have a great blog and I have learned so much from your blog as well as other running blogs. I have about 3-4 that I really enjoy reading, it really is a gift to put on paper something that you enjoy and people will follow.

    I was intrigued about your injury blog and thought up to this point you were just like superman, never having a injury. Because I am now a follower of good running blogs I have found the fountain of youth in compression stockings, ice and the foam roller. Massages are great but expensive. A good foam roller, I swear, if used right will slowly reslove your issues. I use the foam roller now almost daily and it is like having my private massage therapist.
    Thanks for a great blog


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