Tag Archives: SIJ injury

First session of the new year

Sun salutations

Sun salutations

Today is the first day of my journey to running a 100 miler. At this stage, that’s my ultimate running goal. The distance is calling me the way The Landy is called by Everest. I’ve spent the full southern hemisphere spring in rehabilitation mode but since this morning my physio and I have switched to ‘moving forward’ mode.

I have to give Paul Trevethan at Body Leadership Australia a big shout out because he’s been wonderful. From the moment I walked into his clinic he listened to my needs, fears and frustrations. He’s responded to my text messages asking for help and he’s squeezed me in when I’ve urgently needed his healing hands. He’s never told me I couldn’t do anything but has been honest about the areas of my body I need to look after (and he’s never said “I told you so” when I failed to listen).

Tonight I did my stretching routine for the first time since October. I also did two rounds through the Hatha Yoga Sun Salutations. I only did them gently and tentatively but it’s a start. I start yoga classes on Tuesday 18 December and have already told my instructor about my SIJ so she’s going to help me avoid exercises that might flare it up.

I have also done three sets of five exercises each of my pilates exercises: setting my stomach, clams, knee raises, rocking my knees side-to-side and hip raises. My core strength is terrible. But I am practicing these basic moves until I start pilates classes on Monday 17th December with my physio’s wife (also through Body Leadership Australia). The great thing about taking pilates classes with my physio’s wife is that she will know my limitations and core strength needs.

My physio is looking at ordering me a sacroiliac joint brace and has taped me up in the interim. It’s all systems slowly shifting into “go”. I’m being careful not to overdo it and will continue to be guided by both my body and my physio. But it feels good to be making the first step towards my 100 miler goal. A goal that might take a while to reach but one that promises an interesting journey.

A diagnosis

I went to a specialist this afternoon. He performed some tests and confirmed that my injury is a sacroilliac joint dysfunction. My particular version of the injury is excessively loose ligaments in the right sacroilliac joint. It is likely that I actually suffered the injury as a child or teenager through a hard impact (though I don’t remember any hard impacts other than knowing that I once fell off a rearing horse) and that my legs tightened to compensate. With the treatment to my legs, which have loosened, the sacroilliac joint has lost its artificial support.

The specialist recommended prolotherapy. Actually, he wasn’t interested in discussing any other less expensive or invasive options with me, leading me to form the conclusion that he was just churning people in and out for money. In fairness, I only met the man once but as soon as I started asking questions like, “Is the treatment permanent?” and “What other options are available for treatment?”, the specialist seemed annoyed. I have done some reading about prolotheraphy and am not convinced about the science; it seems a little like quackery to me but that’s just my personal opinion. The fact that the specialist said I’d need a refresher treatment every two years was enough to make me realise its just a bandaid.

The good news is that I can’t make the injury worse by running, cycling or kayaking. I can only aggravate it so that it causes pain. I spoke with my physio (who is an incredibly patient man who I actually trust and who I know has my best interests at heart). Tomorrow we will put a plan in place for forward progress. This plan will include pilates classes and changing my running technique to reduce the pressure on my body.

My personal plan is to include aromatherapy, yoga, core strength and massage into my routine. I am also going to look into a lumbar support for when I run, hike and kayak. In the worst case, I’ll switch from running to cycling. But I’ll cross that bridge if I get to it.

In the meantime, I bought myself a copy of Ride by Josh Kench. The blurb on the back and flicking through a few pages inspired me so I’m looking forward to reading it. Who knows what crazy ideas I might come up with as a result 😉

Let’s end the pity party

Everyone has pity parties sometimes. It’s a normal and natural part of being human. We want things to happen easily and quickly. But sometimes they don’t. When we are hurting or afraid our pity parties sometimes take on a tantrum-like quality. It’s like we revert to childhood and to rolling around on the floor threatening to eat worms. It’s not very dignified and it’s difficult to come back from a tantrum. But the measure of one’s strength and courage is not their ability to avoid the pity party; it’s their ability to recover from it. It’s their ability to say, “No! I am going to fight this fight! I will not quit!”

I have spent the past two weeks feeling sorry for myself. My old anxiety disorder has been forcing its way back into my life. I let my guard down while things were good and forgot to protect myself when things got tough. That’s the nature of anxiety disorders, they creep up on you and then cut you down like a sword strike to the backs of your knees. Once you are down, it’s difficult to walk again. So you start to crawl. And you look up at the world around you and feel so small for not being able to walk with them. It takes deep resolve and focus to grab hold of a railing to lift yourself back up into the sunshine. But I’ve been there before and it’s worth it.

Being injured has made me scared. I’ve been scared I’ll never heal. I’ve been scared I won’t be fully productive at work again. I’ve been scared that I’ll lose myself back into the grip of anxiety that I used to live in. I’ve been scared I’ll regain all the weight I worked so hard to lose. I’ve been scared I won’t be able to enjoy the company of my running friends. I’ve been scared I won’t get that seratonin hit that comes with pushing through the wall in an ultra marathon.I’ve been scared I won’t be able to ride my bicycles again after spending lots of money fixing them.

I’ve also felt guilty. I’ve felt guilty about the $250 a month physiotherapy is costing me. I’ve felt guilty for spending lots of money fixing my bicycles and then not being able to ride them. I’ve felt guilty about the angry and miserable moods my fear has caused. I’ve felt guilty about not performing well at work. I’ve felt guilty for not being a better role model for my employees. I’ve felt guilty for not being more available to my son and grandchildren. I’ve felt guilty for not repairing the relationship with my son after we had a major argument on a day when we both felt vulnerable. And even worse, I’ve felt guilty for feeling guilty.

Fear and guilt have built inside me until it’s become a crippling anxiety. And that’s only fed both the fear and guilt.

But I don’t want to go back there! I am not merely the sum of the races I enter or miles I run. They are things I do for enjoyment. Yes, they are a big part of my recovery from anxiety. But there are things I can do right now to fight both the injuries and the anxiety. I always knew it was going to be a long slow road to recovery when I started getting treatment for my shin splints. Fifteen years of muscle tension doesn’t just disappear overnight. I just wasn’t prepared for my back to go. So I didn’t mentally prepare for a recovery period that included a second round of pain.

Now that I know these things, I can decide to take steps to take charge of my body and mind. I can become a Body Leader rather than someone who lets my moods and lifestyle react to my body’s signals. Because my body’s signals are signs of how well I am treating it and I need to listen to them and take proactive steps. I won’t perfect this skill overnight. I’ve got to see it as part of my ongoing development. But I can take small positive steps every day.

I took a day off work yesterday. I was a cranky so-an-so all day, though the 40’C (104’F) heat didn’t help. But I did take some very positive steps:

  1. I went to my Australian aunt for Chinese medicine treatment and I asked her to explain what she was doing, why she was doing it, and how it can help me
  2. I got an xray of my lumbar spine to make sure there are no bone issues, which there aren’t
  3. I bought a jar of St John’s Wart to help break the cycle of anxiety and depression; while drugs or herbal medications might not cure the causes of the anxiety, sometimes it’s necessary to get some relief to help you think clearly and retake command of your body and mind
  4. I bought a jar of cod liver oil because my Australian aunt recommended it for joint health and to help reduce inflammation
  5. I didn’t cancel my physio appointment for Thursday (one of my self-destructive behaviours is that I walk away from professional help when the going gets tough so I fought the strong urge to just cancel the appointment and walk away).

Today I am working from home. I am going to take some more small positive steps to help me take charge of my body and mind:

  1. I am resting my body instead of going walking with my partner because I haven’t tried full rest as a treatment option yet
  2. I am researching aromatherapy treatments for my back, calves and mind; I love aromatherapy and believe it can be a helpful tool in both physical and emotional healing
  3. I am making enquiries with a local yoga instructor about her classes; my muscles are too tight and my core weak so I need to take proactive steps to help with those things
  4. I am designing a bar table style desk to use at work so that I can stand part of the day instead of having to sit
  5. I am getting my work done today
  6. I am going to the movies for a few hours with my partner because movies are one of my favourite sources of inspiration.

Most of all, I will not push everyone away from me like I always have in the past. It’s my go-to response. My big goal for this week is not to use it. I will go to physio tomorrow instead of cancelling. I will go to the bakery on Saturday morning at running club instead of being absent. I will phone my mate to see what he’s doing on Saturday afternoon instead of pushing him away.

I will fight back. I will take one positive step every day to control my responses to negative stimuli such as anxiety and injury.

Get me off this *&%^ing roundabout!

All I’m going to say is that after a weekend without back pain, I have come home from work today in so much pain that it hurt to get changed out of my work clothes.

I am fed up with this roundabout of hope and pain! And I am even more fed up with writing / moaning about it.

I no longer know what to do about it. I am going broke paying for weekly physio and am frustrated that it isn’t fixing the problem. I can’t keep up this lack of exercise because my increasingly flabby stomach and tight pants is upsetting me.

I desperately want to stay positive but right now I am depressed, angry, frustrated and totally demotivated. Some days I just want to go out there and be self destructive. I want to go out and thrash myself on my bike or running and really do an injury. I mean, if doing the right thing isn’t fixing this injury then what harm can thrashing myself do.

I realise this is just stupid so I won’t do it. But it’s just my way of saying I’ve had enough. So until it’s fixed, I’m going to stop blogging because I’m sick to death of writing about it. I want to keep my blog and writing positive. But I’m so fed up, tired and frustrated that I have reached my limit.

So until my back is better, stay safe out there and have fun. I’m going to try to focus on something other than exercise for a while in the hope it takes my mind off things.

 

Taking things easy

I’ve not had much to report the past few days because I’m trying to take things easy. I’ve been working from home so that I can stand at my kitchen bench instead of sitting at my desk. This has been relieving some of the pressure from my SIJ. I have also seen a fantastic lady who does Chinese medicine, including cupping, remedial massage and acupuncture. I think that, combined with my ongoing physio treatment, has helped a lot.

I am no longer in continual pain, having now three specific pain points that flare up with specific activities (such as moving from sitting to standing or riding my motorbike). I hope this is a good sign.

I think my excessive walking the past few weeks is partly to blame for my back not healing as quickly as I would like so I have just been doing a daily 3.5km walk with my partner on flat ground (I am on strict instructions not to walk hills). I have also done a bit of geocaching on my motorbike with short 500m – 1km walks to find caches.

I am hoping to stick with this plan for the next week or two in the hope my SIJ finally settles down. I will have to actually go to the office tomorrow and a few days next week. But I am going to balance this with some work from home time. I am also going to buy myself a fit ball in the hope this encourages me to improve my posture and take walking breaks away from my desk.

All-in-all the current easing status of my back pain has helped to stop the black dog from dragging me away. I am starting to get back in control of my emotions and feel positive again. The decision to focus on adventure racing next year is a good one for me: I love racing and it gives me something healthy to focus on. The thing I have missed the most since my last race on 26 August is the feeling of being a race participant. And I just can’t wait to get that buzz again. Even if it will end up costing me many dollars to enter all those races. It’s still cheaper and more fun than psychotherapy 😉

I hope to have something interesting for you in the coming weeks. My physio is quite keen to get me back out on my bicycle or doing some light running as soon as possible. He’s going to help me work on an improved running technique too, which is super exciting.

 

Walking the trails with Mum

You're Kidding, Bayview Conservation Park

You’re Kidding, Bayview Conservation Park

Mum and I went walking this morning. It was fantastic. I introduced her to some new trails, including You’re Kidding. We covered 7.6km in the warm summer sunshine.

My SIJ injury is still giving me trouble. It’s been a month today and I’m still having some bad days. I’m going to see Mum’s friend tomorrow who is a Chinese medicine practitioner and then the physio on Thursday. If it’s not settling by Thursday I’m going to let the physio send me to a sports physician for scans and a cortozone injection. While I am loath to get an injection, I am starting to think the physio might be right that I need to do something to break the cycle of inflammation that seems to have set in. While SIJ injuries are slow, I’ve read that five weeks is a long time, especially when I’m seeing the physio every week and am actively doing my ‘homework’.

Total: 7.6km walk

A walk with Mum (and a vent)

I’m fortunate to have a supportive and active Mum. We enjoy spending time together walking and cycling. We go camping and traveling together, and sometimes do other outdoor activities like kayaking. Mum is currently working on getting her motorbike licence and wants to take up running for fitness to prepare for a dogsledding trip in the US next year so hopefully we will soon also be able to do those things together (the motorcycling and running … I’m unlikely to be able to do any dogsledding here in the subtropics).

This morning Mum and I went walking together in the bush near my home. We completed the 5km single track loop that I was running before I was injured. I enjoyed the walk and the company. It was good to have a chance to talk with Mum. To hear what she’s been up to and to tell her about my frustrations at being injured for so long.

See, I’m starting to struggle with the frustration of being unable to run and cycle. On Monday it will be three months since the City to Surf Marathon in Perth and I’ve really not been able to run since then. At first it was okay because I could still swim and cycle. But for the past four weeks I’ve not even been able to do that due to the SIJ injury. And it’s starting to get to me. I can’t get rid of the energy that builds up inside me. I can’t release the tension that builds after a day in the office. I feel like screaming because I can’t release the energy through running. And it’s becoming difficult to keep the old depression and anxiety away. It’s becoming more challenging to resist the compulsive behaviours I was replacing with healthy behaviours like running and cycling.

Sure, I can walk and I enjoy walking. But it’s not an activity that provides the same release of energy. It is nice cross-training and preparation for running but it doesn’t provide the sensation of wind blowing through what little hair I have left on my head or of sweat dripping from my brow. I am hopeful that I’m only 2-3 weeks away from running again and I’m trying to keep my eye on the prize. But some days are just plain darn tough! Sometimes I get tired of working at staying positive and pretending everything’s okay when really it’s not.

I’m feeling a little sore this morning and know this is adding to my frustration. I know I will feel better later in the week when I don’t have to sit in my office chair all day because that will be easier on my back. But today I’m feeling frustrated and anxious about how I will get through this next few weeks of relative inactivity. All I know is that I’m going to be celebrating when the physio gives me a program that lets me start running again.

I know this period of healing will be worth it because I am developing positive habits like stretching, trigger pointing and pilates exercises. I know I will be a better runner for it. I know I am young and that this season of healing will benefit me for decades to come. So I am trying to focus on those positives to get me through the frustration.

Total: 5km trail walk

JC Trotter Memorial Park

Lakeside morning

Lakeside morning

After yesterday morning’s return to training, I was excited to jump out bed to hit the trails again today (though I my exit from bed was more a slow roll because my back won’t yet allow me to jump). Instead of returning to Buhot Creek, I went instead to JC Trotter Memorial Park. This little patch of bush is near Buhot Creek where I was yesterday. I was drawn there  by three geocaches that promised easy finding and plenty of walking between each cache. And the fact that I’d never been here before.

Ancient grass tree family

Ancient grass tree family

 

Nature's stories

Nature’s stories

 

Mmmm ... soft

Mmmm … soft

JC Trotter Memorial Park is delightful! It will be an excellent addition to my trail running when I am able to run again. But for now, it made for lovely walking. I think there’s plenty to see along the trails. There’s sculptural ancient grass trees that stand over a metre tall and look like little families. Mother Nature has written her stories on the bark of scribbly gum trees. And multiple varieties of grasses grow along the track, including some whispy long soft grasses that look like they would make a comfortable mattress.

The view through the 'window'

The view through the ‘window’

The geocaches I found were all large and easy to locate, unlike the challenging little micros I searched for yesterday. One was hilarious because it was a bucket with a toilet seat on top of it placed in a hollowed out tree. The tree had a ‘window’ in it, which made the cache look a bit like the small room we all have in our homes. The view through the ‘window’ was pretty and really encapsulated the atmosphere of JC Trotter Memorial Park.

I ended up walking 5.25km and felt good afterwards. I didn’t experience any pain during my walk, though I think perhaps it was slightly too far because I had some slight pain after I rode my motorbike to work (nothing like the pain I have been experiencing though). The really promising thing is that my calves and shins are still feeling great after my walks: no shin splints.

My physio is going to try to hook me up with a local guy who does chi running. I think it will be good to learn some new techniques in my quest to return to running and enjoy the sport injury-free. During my walk I tried to focus a little bit on keeping my body aligned and using gravity to my advantage. I tried taking small steps and having my feet land under me, rather than in front. It’s not a scientific approach but I’m just trying new things to see what might work.

Total: 5.25km walk and 3 geocaches found

A walk in the bush (with some geocaching thrown in)

Morning bushland

Morning bushland

The sun rose at 4:47am today so I had plenty of daylight hours before I had to be at work. With my back pain slowly becoming less severe and my movement less restricted, I decided to start getting back into some light bushwalking again this morning.

I went out to some bushland in Sheldon that I’ve not explored before. There are two fun and challenging series of geocaches hidden in the bushland so I thought it would be a fun way to combine my desperate need for exercise with a passtime that is keeping me from going insane during this period of recovery.

Morning trails

Morning trails

My expedition took me along some smooth wide fire trails that would be amazing to run on. Unlike the trails near my home, the surfaces here are soft hardpacked dirt, which will probably turn into sticky mud during the rainy season. It will be a good place to do some running when my body is ready again (it’s not far off now … my physio and I are hoping I’ll be ready again in December).

Mossy log

Mossy log

The scenery here in this bush is slightly more open than the bushland near my home. This area is flatter compared with my local bush, which is hilly with deep gullies. Here, the leaves can settle on the ground and moss grows on fallen logs that look like they are lying out in the open, rather than only those laying near creeks.

Spider

Spider

But one thing never changes: the spiders. There were some monsters out in the bush this morning. Good thing they don’t scare me. This particular breed of spider is common in our area. They would probably be pretty if it weren’t for their big ugly elongated back. The yellow stripes on their legs catch the sunlight and contrast against their white faces. They spin thick webs that are sometimes over a metre wide. And then when we walk through their webs they just start again: talk about tenacity.

It felt good to go walking without pain this morning. I’ve been in agony since I injured my sacroiliac joint (SIJ) on 29 or 30 October. It still hurts to sit at my desk all day and to stand up after laying down but at least the pain is now probably only at 1-2/10 instead of the 10/10 I rated it last week.

I might head out again tomorrow to explore some more trails in the same bushland. Who knows, I might even finally be quick enough to share a photo of a wallaby with you. I keep trying to photograph them but they usually hop away too quickly.

Total: 3.11km walk and 5 geocaches found.

 

Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) injury

The back pain I’ve  been having for the past week has a name: Sacroiliac Joint (or SIJ) injury. Having a name for it doesn’t bring me any closer to knowing what caused the sudden onset of the worst pain I think I’ve ever felt but it does mean I know what I need to do to make the pain go away.

The pain I am experiencing is manifesting as lower back pain but is actually an inflamation or injury of the top of my glutes around where they join my hips. Apparently there are two big flat muscles that meet at the SIJ and it is the meeting of these muscles that is causing my pain. I suspect that the release of tension in my shins and calves is causing my whole body to realign after many years of compensating for my ultra short calves (have I mentioned yet that both my left and right calf have now passed the magic 10cm mark?). With this mindset, I’m not too concerned at the short-term pain I’m currently experiencing. I think it’s my body taking the opportunity to repair itself after all the abuse I’ve been dishing out.

The good news is that the SIJ pain should settle within 2-3 weeks and that I have a fantastic physiotherapist who is committed to fixing injuries. He was at a 40th birthday party on Saturday night when I messaged him to tell him I was in agony and still messaged back with advice, and then squeezed me in for an appointment today. He dug his elbows into my muscles, got his ultrasound machine working on me and then strapped my back to give it support.

I have to take it easy for the next 2-3 weeks. I’m only allowed to do gentle walking and cycling so long as it doesn’t cause pain during or after the exercise. While I won’t be able to participate in my first Audax Australia ride this Saturday, I’m not getting down about it. I’ll just restart my running and cycling training at the same time once this latest body adjustment has taken place.

At least if my body does all its adjusting and healing now I will be able to start the New Year fresh, fit and ready for action. I mean, I’ve had leg pain for 15 years so no doubt my body overcompensated in all sorts of strange ways. Now that the leg pain is healing, my whole body is going to have to learn to move properly the way it was originally designed to.