Monday, November 22, 2021

Injury Report: I Tweaked My Lower Back Again.

I guess it’s a sign of my age.  It seems like I post injury reports almost as often as I post race reports.  I tweaked my lower back again.

I first noticed it yesterday morning, as I was waiting for the start of the Philadelphia Marathon.  I felt some minor discomfort around my right hip.  At the time, I thought I just had some tight muscles.  It was in the same area where I experience soreness in my hip after a vigorous race-walking workout.  I was glad I was running instead of race-walking, because running wouldn’t put the same strain on those muscles.

It never bothered me during the race.  I also didn’t notice it later in the day.  I was only aware of some stiffness in my right knee after the race.

The next time I noticed it was during the night.  Getting in and out of bed, I felt some soreness in my lower back.  It was worse this morning.  There’s soreness on the right side of my lower back, and sometimes on my right hip.

I’ve had these symptoms before.  It’s similar to the symptoms I had last May, although that was worse.  In May, I also had tingling on the right of my right leg.  Most likely, I have a disk protrusion in the lumbar region, and it’s impinging on a nerve root.  I felt it just walking back and forth in my hotel room.

I was originally planning to take a train to the airport this morning.  I already wasn’t looking forward to walking up and down steps in the train station, because I knew that would be hard on my right knee.  Now, I was more concerned about walking to the train station carrying a suitcase in one hand.  Carrying extra weight on one side would have me off-balance, putting more strain on my lower back.

In all likelihood, that’s how I injured it.  On Saturday, I was carrying my bag on one side while walking through airports, train stations, and on the walk to my hotel from the train station.  The impact of running hard for 26.2 miles probably made it worse.

Instead of taking the train, I took a taxi to the airport.  That not only spared me from walking to the train station with my luggage, but also spared me from having to walk up and down and stairs.  When I got to the airport, I was all too happy to check my bag, so I wouldn't have to carry it around through the airports.  It's bad enough that I was still supporting the weight of my backpack.

I already know what exercises to do while I’m recovering from this injury.  I’ll start doing them as soon as I get home.  It shouldn’t take too long to recover, but it’s going to have some impact on training and racing.

The short-term impact is that I’ll have to back off on the intensity of my race-walking.  The faster I walk, the more rotation I put into my lower back.  I’ll still do some walking, but I won’t go as fast.  It’ll be more about getting exercise than training to go fast.

I’m less sure about how it will affect my running.  Already, I was limiting myself to only running uphill in training.  I’ve been doing that to lessen the impact on my knee.  It also limits the impact on my spinal column.  Maybe that’s enough.  If not, I’ll take a break from running.

My next race is in two weeks.  It’s a race with a nice flat course.  I was planning to race-walk it.  I’ll probably still walk, but I might back off on the pace.

Two weeks after that, I’m doing a downhill race.  That will involve much more impact on both my knee and my back.  I don’t think I can walk that course.  Walking on that downhill grade would be awkward.

I scheduled the downhill race to give myself an opportunity to qualify for the 2023 Boston Marathon.  I was a bit concerned about it being hard on my knee.  Now I’m also concerned about it being hard on my lower back.  If there’s good news, it’s that I no longer need a Boston qualifier.  I qualified yesterday in the Philadelphia Marathon.  I’m not sure how that race will go, but it’s still four weeks away.  The last time I tweaked my lower back, I was much better after four weeks.  Only time will tell.

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