Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Week 5 = A Pain in My Butt

Literally - aka my sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body.  It starts in the lower back and runs through your butt and down the leg.  "Sciatica" is the pain that results from irritation of the sciatic nerve.  Symptoms of sciatica include a burning sensation, numbness, or tingling radiating from the lower back and upper glut down the back of the thigh to the back of the leg.  Common causes of sciatica are a herniated disc directly pressing on the nerve but any irritation or inflammation can produce the symptoms.

I wish I knew what irritated my sciatic nerve.  It started about five years ago - pre-running days - when I would spend 6 hours a day sitting at work, 4 hours a day in class and countless hours studying.  I also had a weakness for 3 inch heels and wore them everyday - to work to school to the mall - you get the picture.  I had the requite x-rays and MRI to rule out any disc problems, etc and luckily those came back negative. Ultimately, the doctor came to the conclusion that it must be a result of bad posture while sitting and strain from wearing the high heels.

Kicking and screaming I boxed up my heels - luckily this is when flats were just coming into style.  This is also when I started running.  Despite the fact that the pain was so intense I could barley walk, I found sitting only made it worse.  If I could get myself moving, once I started to warm up it actually made the pain subside - it was very counter intuitive and something my doctor (a sports MD by the way) never suggested. 

Luckily, over the years the "episodes" of it flaring up have decreased dramatically but have not gone away entirely.  Massage helps, I have seen a chiropractor, done countless stretches and strength moves and don't get me wrong, they help but I have yet to find something that keeps the pain away completely.

This past month has entailed numerous hours of bending over, packing and moving boxes.  On top of that I have spent many nights in the uncomfortable bed at my in-laws house coupled with a dramatic increase in my training has all added up and this past Thursday am I woke up with that all too familiar pain in the butt (literally!).  Knowing I had a big ride planned for Friday (we were going to tackle Cantelow again) I decided not to do my run and just go for a walk instead to loosen the leg but to no avail.  Friday (around 3:00 am) I found myself awake and barley able to walk.  I tried stretching and as soon as the sun was up I tried hoping on the bike to which I could barley lift my leg to sit on the saddle.  Sadly, I had to cancel my Foxy's teammates and promptly made an appointment with a chiropractor who had been recommended to me through the local Fleet Feet.  I will have to write a post on what lead me to decide to see a chiropractor - I was very skeptical at first.

Still a little skeptical about chiropractic care in general I was nervous to see someone new.  I loved my chiropractor in Sacramento and really only trusted him to work on me.  However, the doctor I saw came highly recommended from Fleet Feet and is devoted to specializing to helping athletes.  I also appreciated his "whole body" approach to patient care.

Additionally, he specializing in something called ART or "active release technique."

"The ART® patented method of treatment is based on scientific evidence that soft tissues develop adhesions within, around, and between them after injury.  Adhesions are naturally formed during the healing process, however, the presence of an adhesion after injury weakens the soft tissue's structure and causes it to be susceptible to future re-injury.  An injury can be a major trauma such as "tearing" of a muscle during a sporting event, however, most adhesions form from repetitive "microtrauma" in which over time small repetitive movements (activities of daily living, typing, etc.) cause injury to an area.  ART is the only technique that involves active patient movement during treatment to provide the specific and long lasting results that are needed to prevent re-injury.  ART specifically addresses the injured area by first breaking down the adhesions and scar tissue thereby allowing the area to heal and become stronger with less chance of re-injury."  Source

I was not sure what to expect but essentially it involved putting pressure on the certain parts of the area while rotating my leg at the same time.  It was like a deep, very deep, tissue massage but instead of just laying there his assistant was moving by leg at the same time.  I am not going to lie - it HURT - but when all was said and done I could walk.  I am not 100% sold on it yet as my back has since started to hurt again (however, not near the same level of intensity) but I am sure, as with other things, it takes more than one visit.  I have another appointment this week so we will see.  I will keep you updated.
Thus, my run Thursday and ride Friday did not happen.  Saturday, between a bike malfunction and intense soreness from the ART I decided, reluctantly, to rest one more day.

In Sacramento I trained with Fleet Feet for multiple half marathons as well as CIM

9.5 miles/1:37/10.12 min/mile 

Today, Sunday, I made up my long ride.  Despite the fact I felt our course was fairly flat, Garmin said we gained 1672 in elevation.  We got an early start, or so I thought, in an effort to try and beat the heat (high of 93) but by 9:30 am I was already sweating.  I also got my very first flat tire (a thorn in my back tire) but luckily had my dad and husband with me.  I think I could change a tire at this point if I had to but it is nice to have the boys do it for you. :)  We also hit some very very windy sections out in the country where it took all I had to go 9 mph!

Around mile 34 we stopped to refill our bottles with cold water and ended up having lunch at this grocery that it about 2 miles away from our new place.  OMG - I am going to be in grocery store heaven!  I have a Whole Foods 2 miles in one direction and this place, Draeger's, about 2 miles in the other direction.  They had so many fresh and fun foods I want to try.

49.79 miles/3:16/12.5 mph average (okay, maybe the hills were more noticeable than I thought)

Week 5 Recap (most notable workouts above)
Running: 19 miles
Cycling: 85.2

All in all a great week, minus the three missed workouts at the end of the week, but I guess for a good reason.

I hope everyone had a great three day weekend.  Even though as of right now I don't have a job to enjoy time off from, I enjoyed having Kevin home all weekend.  Sunday we spent the day at the beach so I will leave you with a picture of Griffey enjoying the sand and surf.

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  1. I, too, have sciatica problems, although it is a pain in the ass, I do get a kick out of holding the sore spot & moaning theatrically, "oh, my sciatica!" like a geriatric drama queen!

    I also found that running helped immensely, and am actually having problems with it now for the first time in about 3 years (due to the current lack of running, I'm assuming).

    I hope yours doesn't bother you too much longer!

  2. I have had the same prob! I haven't had a flare up in a few years, but I also went to a chiro who gave me great stretches that I still use when things tighten up. I have been thinking of trying the ART technique but haven't found the time yet to get in. My knnes need some help!

    Great week girlie! Even with the missed workouts you did awesome. And I LOVE the doggy pics! Have a great week! Let me know if you want to run (or ride your bike next to me LOL!)

  3. Bah...sorry to hear about this issue but sounds like you still got in some workouts before the pain started.

  4. I sometimes get a sharp pain, like someone is stabbing me in the back, right where the spine connects to the pelvis above the tailbone. It doesn't radiate down my butt or leg. I'm sure it's from years of "cheating" at my exercises and not quitting gymnastics when I should have.

    I hope your pain doesn't hold you back for too long!

  5. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. They meant a lot. ;)
    Cute doggie picture!


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