Thursday, March 4, 2010

Running can be such a tough sport--up one minute down the next and I can only blame my own body! Back in 1998 (I know a LONG time ago), I hurt my hamstring during a long run in Dallas, TX. I was a freshman in college at Baylor and had met my dad there for the weekend. We did a long run in the pouring rain Sunday morning before we both headed back to our respective homes. I don’t remember specifically hurting it during that run, but the next day my hamstring hurt and did chronically for the next 6+ years. The injury was so bad that my hamstring was visibly atrophied on one side. I saw countless doctors and physical therapists yet could find nothing that would help alleviate the pain. UNTIL I met Brad Ott. Brad is a physical therapist who was different than the rest. He has done some weird things, but the funny thing is they all work. Who would have thought that by flicking my eyebrow my right hip flexor would start working?? Well, maybe it isn't quite as magical as that, but he is AMAZING. I have been working with Brad since 2004, I believe, and after years of dealing with injury after injury I could finally train at the level I wanted relatively injury-free (there is really no such thing as injury-free in running). He uses many different approaches but his main philosophy is not to just treat the symptom (upper hamstring pain) but to find the cause and correct that and while addressing the symptom. For some reason none of the other PTs would do that, instead that would use ultrasound and ice and maybe show me some strengthening exercises for my hamstring (which would actually make it worse).

However, my body is only as healthy as my follow through! All that seemed to be required was doing some exercises daily for maintenance (they take a total of like 5 minutes) and I would be good. But I am human (shocking I know); I would get lazy and not do them all the time. Consequently, I would take a fall or slip on some ice and would take several steps back. So, this past Sunday when I tripped and stumbled about 10 feet during a cool down after a long run with a tempo element in it I knew I was in for it! BUT this time was different; since October I have been going in to Brad's office at 7:00 AM twice a week for circuit work to really teach my body to stabilize with the right muscles and change my controlled fall (as Brad would call my running) to a really strong, efficient gait (after all I did compensate with the hamstring injury for over 6 years so I needed to retrain some of my muscles). I had been working hard and for the first time in years had been really consistent with the exercises and I could tell a HUGE difference when running up hills and fast. I felt in control! So, while I am dealing with some muscle soreness, this is the first time my pelvis did not go completely out of alignment and my hamstring isn't really even the issue this time. I did have to pull back on running this week, pull out of my race on Sunday to make sure I get back in control but I am not worried about the rest of my scheduled races or my marathon. So, I owe a huge thanks to Brad for his continued patience with me and for all of his hard work in keeping me healthy over the past 6+ years. As I read somewhere recently my body is my investment with running, so I greatly appreciate everyone who helps me take care of it!

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