My Sunday run was fabulous (as most of my runs are, in hindsight! In the moment, not always so much….!) The weather was perfect – light cloud, gentle breeze. The terrain was a little challenging for me. Plenty of puffing up hills (rewarded with some lovely cruising down hills). I must confess, though, to being a lazy runner. I just want to go out and do the run. Not too great at preparation or conditioning work.
And it’s showing! The hills have left their mark – this morning, my deep hip flexor muscle (the iliopsoas) is rather irritable. I have a mild ache deep in the right groin. Thankfully, it is mild – but I am acutely aware that, if ignored, it may make its presence felt with a whole gamut of symptoms – leg pain, buttock pain, back pain.
This is a common runner’s injury. After all, that muscle, which runs on each side from the lower back, across the front of the hip joint to the top inside of the thigh bone, has to stretch and contract somewhere in the region of 175 times per minute when running. It bears up to eight times your body weight with each running step. It acts rather like a spring – imagine the coiled shock-absorbers on your car – helping you to “bounce” through the step. And on hills, it has to work extra hard.
It doesn’t act in isolation, though. It should be well-supported in its function by those other big muscles in the area; the gluteal (buttock) muscles, the hamstrings in the back of the thigh, the quadriceps in the front. It should be “balanced” with its partners on the other side of the body – not having to pick up extra work where there’s restriction elsewhere.
And this, I suspect, is where I now need to focus my efforts. First, I’ll check in with my lovely osteopath, she’ll be able to identify any issues in my back, hips, knees, ankles and feet that might make me vulnerable. She’ll also be able to do some therapeutic release work on my iliopsoas muscle, and address any other relevant muscles that aren’t acting at their best. She’ll probably give me some exercises to help sort the problem out and help it not to recur. Plus, of course, a telling-off for not taking better care in the first place.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back to puffing up hills. And then, I will warm up properly before running! I will stretch afterwards! I am putting my laziness behind me. It’s worth it.