Let me give you an example: foam rolling. First and foremost, I have to admit that I am lazy. Any good reason not to roll and I'm game. For many months last year I went to see a massage therapist named Antonio. I loved Antonio - his specialty was myofascial release and he knew how to make my aches go away, even though I'd come back home with bruises all over my legs. Yet he always said that I could help myself by rolling more often. And I would always reply... sorry, not today. Eventually I ran out of money and I stopped going. Then my ITBs became more and more problematic, and the pain in the knees followed. But don't get me wrong, I am not necessarily implying that it was a cause and effect - just that I could no longer give my legs as much TLC as before and maybe, just maybe I could have delayed the knee pain if I had continued going to see Antonio regularly.
Anyway, back to foam rolling. My massage therapist would tell me to roll, my coach would tell me to roll, my husband would tell me to roll, and so would many of the people I know - but then I'd come across expert opinions such as these "Your IT band is not the enemy (but maybe your foam roller is)" or "ITB or Not ITB... That is the question" and then my brain would go into a deadlock: what to do, what to do?? It also did not help that I was sent to another massage therapist/acupuncturist and this guy told me that he didn't believe in foam rolling either, especially for ITBs. I respect and trust many of the health professionals that I see and I know that there isn't ONE solution to all issues. But there it was, another reason to NOT roll. And I believed in it 100%. I also believed that the key was in releasing the TFLs and hip flexors and stretching the glutes etc.
Alas here's where I failed because I didn't do those things either.
When I wrote the previous post, I received many pieces of advice and of course some were conflicting. I am always happy to receive suggestions, don't get me wrong, but I ended staying awake until past midnight weighing pros and cons and reading hundreds of opinions that you can find on those websites' comment sections. All articles are interesting, and all opinions carry their weight, but at the end of the day, I have to look at what I already tried and worked (or not) vs what is left to be tried even if some people are passionately against those ideas.
So here I am, holding another list of TODOs in front of me and looking forward to the process, or rather to a different outcome. Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but as I consider myself sane enough to see the difference between approaches and the value in each of them.
After the initial shock that my IT bands/hips/knees combo is still not operating pain free, I skipped my bike workout because I was scared to make things worse given that my hips were somewhat achy and the rubbing of my left knee cap was puzzling. Just to make it clear, so far I have not experienced the kind of pain I was in last year during the Ironman training months, but the same tightness, pulling and rubbing that I would feel at the beginning of every run. In the past, it would only go worse from there, hence my erring on the side of caution. However today I decided to make another attempt at running, but a little differently. I also bought a new pair of shoes which I wore during my 4km walk earlier this week. I didn't choose the pink but they were $72 so I can't complain.
Then I did my strength workout, followed by the famous "couch stretch" and foam rolling. Because why not. These are the tools that I'll use in this new trial because I also trust my friends and coaches who I know have been through similar experiences. If it worked for them, maybe it will work for me too. Out of this exercise, I did find a possible causal relationship between my left knee pain and tightness on the hip/leg/whatever.
Let me explain the "couch stretch" with a few images from the very useful book "Ready to Run" by Kelly Starrett.
So what if this whole mess is not an injury, but just tightness that I need to get rid of to become a "supple leopard"? One inch at a time - poke, listen, address weakness, imbalance, stiffness. There must be a way and I'm gonna find it. I have tools, I have plenty of support and I'm working on my patience every single day. Can I have a yay?