Tri this: P.I.T.A.

Pain In The Ass: Both the experience of being injured and where it hurts! A few weeks ago, I made a mistake. I rode my bike with my swim bag slung across my body, messenger bag style.  I’ve done this before, riding the short distance from my home to the rec center where I swim.  However, this time I wanted to experiment with event transitions, so I rode up the hill, around the mesa loop, and then parked and locked my bike and jogged around the lake before riding home. I noticed as I was riding that the bag was heavy and pushing on one side of my back. A few days later, I did it again, running first, which felt okay, then riding to and from my office, stopping at the rec center for a swim on my way home. My training log comment for that day reads: Left SI (sacroiliac) joint really sore, question riding bike with my swim bag.

I reduced my running, walking only on some days, and kept up with my other training activities. I noticed the soreness, but it didn’t seem to worsen with activity, so I continued on. Then, a week ago, I went to the rink to skate.  I was stiff and sore, but then I often am at 5:30 am.  However, as I began to skate, I had increased pain down my right leg, my left SI joint was hurting, and it was obvious to me that I had no business skating.  I got off the ice, did a number of stretches and left. Later that morning, I went to the rec center. I gingerly tried to walk and it was clear that it wasn’t working as I had pain every time I stepped with my left leg. So, I went swimming and called the sports medicine clinic for an appointment. Sadly, I discovered that my physician is out on vacation. I’ve got an appointment for next week.

As a retired family physician, I’ve long agreed with the saying “she who treats herself has a fool for a patient”. I’ll handle minor stuff on my own, and seek advice for everything else. However, my doc is out of town, and as she is one of the few osteopaths I know, and I’m pretty sure hands on manipulation is what I need to get my SI joint back in place, I’m my own treating physician for the short term.  My working diagnoses are two: Left SI joint dysfunction and probable pyriformis syndrome on the right side.  Treatment plan: Rest (stop running. walking and figure skating).  Swimming and biking okay as comfort allows.  Do my other supportive activities: yogalates (a yoga/pilates combo class I love), gyrotonics, add some extra stretching and strengthening exercises for my pelvis/hips, take some ibuprofen. Keep my previously scheduled appointment with my wonderful body worker, Moe.

A week into this plan, I am considerably improved. My left sided pain is less, I walk comfortably with daily activities, and my right sided pain is nearly gone. I did some skating yesterday, stopping to stretch after 30 minutes with no ill effects. I ran in place for a few steps at home this morning, pain free. So I walked at a moderate pace for 20 minutes today, followed by a lot of stretches and then swam. So far so good.

I am feeling better and am hopeful that my recovery will continue. I’ve learned a fair amount here. First, do not ride my bike with my swim bag. I have backpacks that I can use should I choose to bike with my swim gear. Next, I need to give more attention to stretching and strengthening.  My training log now has a daily check box in this category. The surprise learning for me was that I actually missed running. Its challenging, takes a lot of effort, and I missed being able to run. Earlier, I wrote about posture and how it influenced my running experience in Tri this, part 2: Running, pain and the power of belief. Once again, body position and biomechanics (riding my bike with an asymmetric load) have been my teachers.

My physical pain in the ass is much less, and the figurative one is diminishing as I recover. I’m pleased to be improving, and also appreciating my own willingness to allow myself to keep learning despite circumstances that I didn’t anticipate.  I’m hoping that with continuing body awareness and paying even closer attention in the future, I will have fewer injuries and interruptions as my triathlon adventure continues.



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