I think, short of some sort of accident that causes an acute injury, our bodies rarely just spontaneously fail.
Injuries, especially from stress or overuse, don’t just happen like the flick of a light switch. It’s always a much longer drawn out process. One that begins far before we are consciously aware that there might even be a problem to begin with.
Guess what? My body is failing.
In retrospect, it’s been breaking down for quite some time now, I just never had the “ah-ha” moment until just the other day. All of this time, my body has been crying out for help, but I’ve been oblivious to the signs. My posture, the hernia, my hips (specifically, their lack of mobility), and now this ankle issue (have I talked about the ankle issue here yet? Posterior tibialis…something. Pain, soreness, etc.).
They are all related.
The “kinetic chain”, when in reference to the human body, is essentially the idea that that every part of your body, including muscles, joints and nerves, must work together to produce movement. If something in the chain isn’t working properly, other parts of the chain are going to either compensate to still try and produce the movement, or, they will also fail as a result of the break in the chain.
(Side note, this is a really good song.)
Think about it: what happens when you fall and twist your ankle? After you possibly scream out a few obscenities, that is. You start limping. The limp is two fold; first you are trying to protect the injured ankle by not putting any pressure on it. But secondly, you change your entire gait, or, the pattern in which you walk. The non injured side moves swiftly, and usually lands heavily, to prevent the injured leg from receiving pressure. The change in gait, over time, can affect your hips, and then your spine, and then your shoulders…you get the idea. Everything is connected
This of course is an extreme and obvious example. Sometimes a breakdown in the kinetic chain is not so outwardly apparent at first.
In my case, I’m almost certain that the anatomical culprit is a weakness and lack of mobility in my hips. I’m nearly certain after a ton of research, and being pointed in the direction of coach & physical therapist Kelley Starrett/MobilityWOD by more than one friend, both runners and CrossFitters alike. I watched a slew of his videos discussing various mobility issues and injuries stemming from the hips, and every single one of them I sat there saying “YES! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I’M EXPERIENCING!”
However, I’m unsure if the weakness and lack of mobility in my hips is something that I’ve always had, or something that is a result of sitting in an office chair more often than not. I’m not sure, but I do know I have become increasingly frustrated with the onslaught of physical issues, so I am taking a proactive approach.
We are all always learning and growing. Though I’ve pointed out similar discrepancies in clients before, this is the first time I’ve consciously realized that training my body to be stronger and faster simply isn’t enough. Training specific muscle groups through isolation and even compound movements is not good enough. I need to cater to and foster my body’s ability to use those (hopefully now stronger) muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints together, symbiotically. I need to properly align myself, address any glaring weaknesses, and “fix” my kinetic chain.
My current goal is the 24 hours of Epic Running (or whatever it’s called. I suppose my first goal should be to know the name of the race. Goal #2: register for it). We have laid out a training plan and so far, I’ve been following it. I would LOVE to come out at the end of the training cycle uninjured. And I know this type of mileage is not going to be easy on the body. So my approach is as follows:
1) FIX BAD HABITS. I have so many bad habits when it comes to my posture. I slouch, I slump…don’t even get me started on the horrible “cell phone neck”, that I’m pretty sure most of my generation is going to be suffering from sooner or later. But I digress. This great post gives a lot of visuals of my many bad habits (and it’s no coincidence that I have diastasis recti) and how I can work on changing those habits.
2) REHAB. Rehab, rehab, rehab. And rehabilitate some more. This article from competitor.com features 10 Mobility exercises for runners. And guess who stars in all 10 videos? Kelley Starrett, no surprise there. In addition to all of his suggestions, I’ve been researching the heck out of hip mobility, posterior tibia issues, and even the possibility of piriformis issues. Anyway, it’s my goal to work on these stretches at least 5 times per week.
2a) Further research the possibility of seeking out chiropractic care. I’ve been told before by a chiropractor friend that I am misaligned, so I suppose it’s time to look into that a little further.
3) STRENGTH TRAIN…effectively. Because I’ve got my sights set on this specific race, I don’t want to go overboard with PR’s and learning new things at CrossFit. Instead, I will focus on fixing my hip mobility and strength (see #2) while performing strength training exercises that will hopefully help the issue, and not hinder it. While, of course, helping to strengthen and prevent injury from the ultra training.
4) DON’T RUN LIKE AN ASSHOLE. Because I am notorious for training and racing like an asshole. You know, the whole “oh, a marathon next weekend you say? Well it’s a good thing I ran that one 18 miler a few months back or something. I’ll be fiiiiine. ” This asshole technique has fortunately NOT resulted in injury …yet…but has without a doubt given me finishing times far below what I am capable of. Not to mention caused a on of unnecessary race day suffering. No, no more of that nonsense. I have a solid training plan, and while I can’t promise I’ll hit 100% of the runs, I’ll try like hell to complete the majority of them.
I share this post for a few reasons
1) Accountability. Once it’s out there, you are more likely to stick with it (like, my dreaded couch stretch and “mashing” of my lower legs. )
2) I like to hear myself talk. I mean write.
3) To share this knowledge I’m gaining, incase any of you are suffering from a similar issue.
4) A reminder to think outside of the box. Our bodies are fantastically amazing machines capable of incredible feats…but they are also incredibly intricate. Mind the ENTIRE body, as a whole, and treat it with respect. One of those lessons I’m finally learning as I approach the 10 year mark on this crazy running journey.
Better late than never…