Note: Read on for some valuable strengthening exercises!
When you have done all you can possibly think to do on your own to no avail, it’s time to seek some outside help. As someone who aspires to be a physical therapist someday, I get excited at the challenge of trying to learn new things to fix my own body. After doing an open water swim last Saturday that left my ITB in more pain than ever, though, I was beyond frustrated and decided to make an appointment for PT from someone other than myself.
There is nothing worse than getting your hopes up before seeing a doctor or PT that the appointment will be the answer to all your problems and you will walk out totally optimistic only to be told, I’m not sure what is wrong. I am speaking 100% from experience here. If I was going to seek professional opinions and assistance, I was going to go above and beyond to find a place that would actually tell me that something is wrong. If “nothing is wrong,” well, it’s hard to fix anything, isn’t it? So, that’s why I went to the Neurac Institute, which uses “Redcord® and one’s own body weight to restore proper neuromuscular control and functional stability for sports or daily activities.”
At many other physical therapy centers, therapists will test individual muscle strength; but, how helpful are strong right lats, for example, when you’re running a marathon with hundreds of other muscles? At Neurac, the therapists hook you up to slings and bungee cords to test your muscle strength while nearly every other muscle is also in use, making it a much more practical test of strengths and weaknesses. Basically, if the cords are shaking, you’re not stable – simple as that. During my first visit, it was clear that I was more stable in my right side, but my right shoulder sometimes leaned back to compensate during movements. My body rarely makes any sense to therapists and doctors. So it was no surprise that at my second visit almost a week later, the entire home exercise program focusing on the spiral line was null, because I was much better that time around, and went up from a 1 to a 3 on all the tests. He changed his mind and decided the problem was entirely on the left side. I‘m not exactly sure what I did right, but I was pleased.
That was Monday. I’m getting to the point where some days I feel like I’d be fine to run, I’m just waiting for more consecutive days feeling like that. I know myself too well to trust no pain as indication I should run. Believe it or not, it makes more than that to convince me I’ll be fine when I actually start running (source: every run I’ve done that started fine and left me walking back…). Some days I feel just like I did after my ITB gave out on May 16th (over a month ago now…ughhhhhh). One of those days, unfortunately, is today.
I do realize that not 100% resting is setting me back a little, but I think I’d go crazy if I did nothing this time of year. This week is the start of Masters Swimming! More on this in another post soon!
In addition to the PT exercises I have been keeping up with since February 2012 when I hurt my right ITB badly, I’ve added the ones that the PT sent me…I did them all yesterday, and here are some that I think every runner should incorporate into his or her strength training routine! Small, stabilizing muscles and core >>> bigger muscles. They will get enough of a workout when you’re running/biking/swimming. I’ve always been a believer of that.
Another thing I’ve upgraded to in the past week is…THE QUADBALLER. I have been rolling on some kind of foam roller – cheap, ProTec brand, harder black styrofoam, The Grid, etc. for years nearly every single day. People say rolling hurts…um, it doesn’t anymore. Even when I have an ITB injury. What is wrong with me and my pain tolerance, right?! While I think it is pretty high (that doesn’t explain my total inability to use the cold shower at the pool this morning at all…), I really don’t feel the rollers much anymore. I could feel a tight spot with the Grid on my ITB, but it just wasn’t doing much for it. Then I found the Quadballer! Because it is the same texture and density of my beloved TP Massage Ball, and it is contoured, it gives a much smoother roll. Within a day, I found a difference. I will hereafter be using “quadball” as a verb…also other forms of speech in casual conversation. You may hear:
“I quadballed last night.”
“I want to quadball before work today.”
“I’m taking my quadballer to work so I can quadball throughout the day.”
“We are out of quadballers; I sold them all.”