Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'm Still Injured

Ever since Bighorn Mountain, I’ve wanted to post an update about my recovery from the groin strain I suffered in early May.  I would have written something sooner, but I’ve been struggling from one day to the next to figure out how I’m doing.  I keep thinking, “Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a better idea,” so I wait one more day.  I’ve been doing that for a week now, and I’m still not sure where I stand.

In the days leading up to the Bighorn Mountain 100, I felt like I was about 90 percent recovered.  Not counting the race, I did two short runs that week.  They were only about five miles each, and they were at a slow pace.  I didn’t have any discomfort in either run.  I knew I wasn’t fully recovered, because I still had some soreness at night.

I’m a light sleeper.  I tend to wake up several times during the night.  I usually get back to sleep quickly.  Lately, I’ve noticed that each time I wake up, I stretch and flex the muscles in my legs.  I do this subconsciously.  Since my injury, I’ve noticed some soreness in my groin when I flex the muscles in my upper legs.  Even after I stopped noticing any discomfort during the day, I still felt a little bit of soreness at night.

The first night I didn’t notice any soreness was the night before the Bighorn Mountain 100.  That was encouraging.   I got through 30 miles of running on rugged terrain without discomfort.  That too was encouraging.  In retrospect, it’s also kind of surprising.  I wasn’t fully healed, and that race really subjected my legs to some awkward landings.  I also didn’t notice any soreness the night after the race or the next day.

Even though I no longer seemed to have any inflammation, I knew the injured muscles were weak.  I also have weak hips.  My PT has included some exercises to strengthen my hips, glutes, hamstrings and groin.  In the days leading up to the race, I skipped my exercises in favor of complete rest.  Last Sunday, I resumed my exercises.

Although the injury was only to my right leg, I’m doing the same exercises with both legs.  On one, I could tell that some of the muscles in my right leg were still much weaker than the same muscles in my left leg.  That wasn’t too surprising.  Building strength takes time.

Later in the day, I did a core workout that includes incline sit-ups.  I felt soreness in my groin doing the sit-ups.  The soreness increased over the next day or two.

On Tuesday, I had a PT appointment.  Even before that appointment, I realized that I had hit my exercises too hard.  Even my left (good) leg was now weak and uncomfortable.  Talking to my therapist, I learned that incline sit-ups really force the groin and hip flexors to work.

We discussed several changes in my exercise regimen.  First, instead of doing my exercises every other day, I’m cutting back to twice a week.  We also cut out a couple of exercises.  Finally, I’m supposed to stop if I feel I’ve reached my limit, even if I haven’t done very many repetitions.  I’m also going to modify my core exercises.  Instead of doing sit-ups with my abdominal board set to the steepest incline – as I’ve been doing for many years – I’m going to set the incline to the minimum.

In the meantime, I’ve resumed running.  On Monday, I felt some soreness from the time I got up.  As I started running, the soreness was already there, but it never got any worse.  I felt the same way on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I did weight training, but I put off my PT exercises until later in the week.  I ran a little bit farther on Wednesday.  Since I was still feeling some soreness, I decided to see if compression would help.  It’s getting too hot to wear my hamstring compression wrap, but I did my next few runs using an elastic bandage.  It’s not as convenient, but it doesn’t restrict other muscles to the same degree, and it’s also not as hot.

On Saturday, I finally did my PT exercises again.  I didn’t have any discomfort while I was doing them, but I started feeling sore later in the day.  Wearing the elastic bandage enabled me to run today, but I don’t feel that confident in my recovery.

Before Bighorn Mountain, I felt like I was 90 percent recovered.  Now I’m not sure.  I vary from day to day, but I feel like I took a big step backward.

I was originally planning to do my PT exercises again tomorrow.  Then I’d run on Tuesday before talking two full days off.  My next race is on Friday, but I don’t want to risk another setback so close to the race.  If I’m feeling OK, I’ll stick with that plan.  If I still feel sore tomorrow, I’ll postpone the exercises until at least Wednesday.  I may postpone them until after next weekend.

Next weekend, I’m signed up for three marathons in three days.  I really don’t want to run a full marathon with my leg wrapped, much less three of them.  Wearing the elastic bandage is a last resort, but I’m exploring all my options.

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