After all the exercising I’ve been doing this year, particularly the running, its not surprising that I’ve had my share of aches and pains. It is common to see me limping around during the day because my legs hurt in some fashion, which can be caused by a variety of reasons, mostly:
- Evil Squats
- Evil Lunges
- Anything the Irish Sadist (my Personal Trainer) thinks is ‘fun’
And sometimes, my feet just hurt. Recently, however, I’ve been having trouble in particular with my calves. I’ve received advice from Jillian to stretch my calves as often as possible, and possibly even get them massaged. I’ve been trying to foam roll them frequently to work out the kinks, which is a wildly painful experience, but I haven’t been making any progress. (for some excellent info on Foam Rolling, check out this post at Me Plus My Trainer!) Out of both the fear of really injuring myself and the general knowledge that something is always wrong with me, I made an appointment with a Sports Medicine doctor. The doctor asked a few question, and poked and prodded at my calves for a bit before confirming that my calves were incredibly tight and recommending that I see a Physiotherapist.
I spent the next week worrying about how horrific my Physio experience was going to be. Based on the level of pain from foam rolling, and my previous history with foot and lower leg massages – there was a strong possibility that this treatment would include blackout inducing pain. Panic.
I showed up to my appointment, nervous as ever, and was greeted by my new Physio, Liz. She asked similar questions that the Sport Med Doc had, and then got into much more specifics about my overall health and sport specific goals (Umm.. keep running?). Once she had the basics down, she started the assessment. She spent a significant amount of time checking my posture, my flexibility and my hips. I then had to perform a few functional movements such as balancing on one leg, squatting, one legged squats and walking back and forth so she could check my gait. I finally lay down on the examination table for her to get a feel of my calves. Once the assessment was over, I braced myself – it was time for the treatment plan announcement of ‘friction massage’, ‘acupuncture’ or some other torturous technique. Wow was I wrong.
The problem really isn’t in my calves at all. In short, I have very flexible joints (called high mobility) meaning that my ankles, legs, elbows etc all hyper extend with ease. Due to this, my muscles naturally have to work a bit harder because my ligaments are stabilizing my joints very well. Ok, already knew that part – but now I understand that all of my posterior chain muscles are going to suffer from running, but in a manageable sense. She then went on to explain how some of my Gluteal muscles (read: ass) are not engaging when they should, they aren’t taking their part of the work load in some movements. Thanks to this, parts of my Glutes are underdeveloped and have lead to a weak or ‘wobbly’ pelvis.
She spent some time having me try some movements and kept poking my Glutes to show me that they weren’t engaging at all when they should be. After several minutes of this “Lift, What Hurts? Poke” routine, I started to giggle. I turned around and said, “Are you trying to tell me that I have a Lazy Ass?” Apparently that is exactly the problem.
Maybe my sister Sandy is right when she says I’m “Never just quite right“.