Running injury

A Runner and Her Injuries

Recently at my physical therapy appointment my doctor gave me some new exercises and also gave me some progressions for exercises I was already doing to heal my back. My goal with PT was to fix my back pain, but more importantly to get back to the activities I love (biking, running, yoga, kettlebells). My therapist said that if you want to run, you should be doing a few specific exercises on a frequent basis.

Want to be a runner and not have to deal with frequent/chronic injury? She said you should be doing the glute bridge exercise and be able to hold a plank for 60 seconds. And maintain those goals. Both exercises will keep your core strong and stabilize your hips during running; in turn it will keep Runner’s Knee and low back pain away. Sold. Sign me up!

I wanted to share what I am currently doing to improve my body. So far the exercises seem to be helping a lot!

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge exercise might sound familiar to you. It’s a yoga move and common in PT. There are so many benefits to this exercise but the biggest one for me is that stronger glutes fix my runner’s knee. Period. It also helps stabilize your core and helps alleviate low back pain. I’ve been given this exercise before but in the past, even though I did it diligently, I never really felt a difference. I mentioned that to my therapist and she suggested this variation:

glute-bridge

One simple change– doing it on your heels instead of with your feet flat– made a HUGE difference for me. Suddenly I FELT the exercise in my butt and glutes when I did it this way. This is now the only way I do it. And I feel it after I’m done, too. It’s important to engage your core, tighten your glutes and hold them as you go up and down. If not, you’re not getting the same benefits. I love this move. I feel it the next day! I also found a website with examples of other variations I may try in the future.

One Leg Glute Bridges

This is a variation of the basic glute bridges the physical therapist is having me do. It’s supposed to be harder than the traditional way, and it is! Here is a short video of the demonstration.

Glute-Bridge-Adduction-Knee-Extension

Like the regular glute bridge, do it on your heel. When I first tried it at physical therapy I was like, Oh holy moly this is a LOT harder. I sure did feel it! My doc said the leg doesn’t need to be straight out (like the above picture), just raised. The important keys: do it on your heels, engage your pelvic floor while you do it, and then make sure your hips are staying level as you raise them. If you’re twisting the raised hip, you’re not getting the benefits. And probably messing up the low back.

One Leg Romanian Deadlift

I’ve written about this move before. It’s a must for me when I want to keep Runner’s Knee away from my life. It was a regular part of my weight lifting workout for a long time. When I had my back flare up I stopped doing this move (and most weight lifting) and it didn’t take long for my knees to start to act up. 🙁

When my therapist watched me do this exercise the one correction she made was to have me hold the weight (or kettlebell) in one hand instead of holding two. Then put the free hand on the small of your back as you bend over. This helps you to make sure you aren’t raising/twisting your hip as you bend. I was! Granted I usually do the move in front of a mirror to make sure I don’t twist, but it’s easy to twist and then there’s no point in the exercise because you putting strain on your lower back. Good to know!

Single-Leg-Romanian-Deadlift

Plank

I know, I know, love/hate relationship right? Planks suck. They are hard. But when you finish doing them you feel accomplished! My therapist suggested doing the plank on the elbows instead of hands (it will be harder that way) and to make sure that you are engaging your core muscles while you hold it otherwise you are putting pressure on your low back. Especially if your back is sagging in any way. I see that a lot in the gym–people doing a plank (side plank, traditional etc) and they are sagging. Do it in front of a mirror if necessary to hold it!

Bridge-Plank-on-Elbows

Clam

This exercise is one I’ve been given for pretty much every running injury I’ve gotten. This move is supposed to help strengthen your hips. I didn’t always like it because I never really “felt” it. I tried it with a stretchy rubber PT band and that helped a LITTLE bit…but still, didn’t really feel it when I did the exercise. Recently my therapist suggested I try a different way to do it. I hope I can describe it properly…

So same position as the photo below (minus the band). Except instead of having the knees and feet touching, she had me raise the higher leg so it was parallel to the leg resting on the floor and THEN do the clam move. So the legs aren’t actually touching as you do the move, but you’re still doing the same form. If that makes sense? Okay, if it does, good. Because this variation was much better! I could feel the exercise doing it this way.

clam_edited

So far it’s been working. I think the combination of the standing desk and doing the PT exercises during my workouts on a regular basis have helped my back AND my knees! I also started doing the cobra/up-dog yoga stretch after each set of kettlebell swings. It helps a lot!

Things I’m Loving Lately

I am totally an Amazon Prime junkie. I buy way too much stuff on there. It’s just easy and convenient. I wanted to share some of the finds I’ve loved lately. Here is the list:

Omega Sunlight SAD Light Therapy (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Super Bright

This is the newest item and I’m still checking it out. I most definitely suffer from seasonal malaise. I am not a dark,gray,rainy kind of person. When the winter rain starts here in Oregon I just feel like a giant wet blanket has been thrown over me. It’s such a bummer. I know I need to live somewhere else and I’m reminded of this every winter. So either I need to move to like California (preferably near the beach) or win the lottery so I can move to Bali.

Since neither of those things are really going to happen any time soon, I bought a light therapy device. Finally. I’ve wanted one for years but never got around to getting one. I’m glad I did. I’ve only been using it for about a month now and I usually only use it Monday-Fridays. I plug it in on the kitchen counter and have it one while I make breakfast, eat breakfast and pack my lunch for work. So for about 20-35 minutes depending on the day.

light

 

I don’t know that I’ve noticed a difference in the winter depression yet but what I did notice right away was that I felt more ALERT and awake in the morning after using the light. That’s huge. I am so NOT a morning person (my ideal work schedule would be like 10am-4pm–where is that job?!!). I am going to continue using the light to see if it effects the winter blues. Stay tuned.

Mueller Cold/hot Wrap, Elastic, Black, One Size

I bought this a few months ago and I’ve been using it a lot. Whenever I have a particularly difficult workout, I use it on my knees. It works GREAT. I like that the ice pack is separate and you just slip it into the wrap and then strap it on a body part and it doesn’t slide. For years I was using a traditional ice pack and it was annoying having to hold it in place. I love this thing.

Mueller Jumper’s Knee Strap, Black, One Size Fits Most, 1-Count Packages (Pack of 3)

Speaking of knees….

I think two things fixed my Runner’s Knee (or at least, made it tolerable). The first is the Warrior Room and strengthen my glutes to offset the muscle imbalance that causes my knee pain (the WR did more for me than physical therapy ever did). The second are these straps. I always use them when I run or use the elliptical now.

It’s so much better than taping my knees. I was taping for a long time, per my physical therapist, and while that worked okay it was really uncomfortable. My skin is super sensitive to begin with and using tape on my skin just irritated it beyond belief. It would be itchy, red, blotchy, nearly scarring me. I quit the tape and changed to the straps and never looked back. Such a better option.

Aikiou Stimulo Activity Food Center for Cats Grey/Green

I bought this earlier this year because Fat Kitty is a little piggy. He’s always been this way, even when I got him as a baby. You can read his history here: Fat Kitty Still Needs a Diet…The short story: he tends to binge eat and then throw up. I tried a LOT of different methods and different foods, different feeding methods, to try and get him to slow down. Nothing worked.

Finally I found this on Amazon and decided to give it a try. For the first two days the cats were both MAD. They were pissed. They sat in front of the feeder and meowed angrily. They refused to use it. Finally, they broke down and started using the feeder. It didn’t take them long to figure it out and it’s been great ever since! The cats love it (or at least they don’t complain anymore), they slowed down with their food and Fat Kitty did lose a little weight. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a big boy. But he’s not bingeing and puking anymore, so I’m happy.

feeder

 

If you have a cat with a weight issue, this thing works! Give it a try! It definitely slows them down and there is actually food left over sometimes. I highly recommend this item!

Have you found something you are loving lately and want to share?