So after a long time of putting it off, on Friday I went to see a physio who specialises in running. To make sure he could see my pains and problems, I did my 6.5K route beforehand. I felt pretty nervous as I drove to meet him. I've never had anyone analyse my running before. It's something I have always done alone. I had no idea what I looked like when I did it, or if I was 'doing it right'. Tom was cool and put me at ease right away. I loved his energy and enthusiasm for what he does. It was great to be able to talk to someone about running without them yawning or looking bored.
I described my concerns, my sore left ankle (from the one time I attempted to wear high heels over the summer and went over in them), and the nagging pain I have in and around my right hip.
I told him about my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.
He said the best thing to do was get out and how I looked running.
I felt a bit shy as we headed about. I've never run with anyone before, let alone a 'professional'.
I had a silly 'I hope my cellulite does not wobble'/'I hope I don't run like a girl' moment and then thought 'Oh bollocks to it all' and set off.
It's hard to 'run normally' when someone is watching you however. It's like pretending not notice someone giving you the glad-eye.
Anyway, after a couple of minutes or so, he told me to stop. I was delighted to see he was panting 'Your pace is great' he said. I was super chuffed, but then he told me the bad news.
I run with my pelvis tilted forward, probably due to my lack of stomach muscles (after three large babies and my 'Diastasis recti'.)
My right leg has a tendency to drift inwards as I land, a pretty common problem in women apparently, with our swinging hips. Shakira was right, they do not lie.
My ankles are stiff and there is not much movement in them.
I am a forefront striker which is rare.
Most runners are heel strikers. I trot on my toes. I imagine I adopted this style because when my RA was at its worst, I could not bear to touch my heel to the ground.
When he showed me the videos of my running in slow-mo I could see what he meant. My right leg came in so far I was almost knocking knees, and my arms were doing the Y.M.C.A dance.
He studied my battered wee feet and agreed that minimus trainers are good for me. I don't land on my heel so I don't need any cushioning under them.
Then he put me on his bench and starting poking about with me.
It was horrible. He wanted to see how much movement I had in my legs and groin (pretty good on my left, not so good on my right), then he poked his thumb into my bum cheek and I howled and went to punch him.
It was agony, but we soon found the root of the problem. My glutes on my right hand side are weak.
When he tried to get me to do some exercises, it turns out they they are worse than he thought. He told me to lie on my side, bend my left knee up, and then raise my right leg up and down in the air slowly. I tried it once and my whole body shook with the effort. It was pathetic, it hurt, I hated it and I wanted to go home (and cry like a girl).
To make it a bit easier he put a pile of towels under my right leg and told me to make the movement as small as possible, just lift my leg an inch off the towels and down onto them again. It was easier, but I was still trembling with the effort.
I asked him if I nice massage would not sort my problem out and he laughed. Apparently I need to be doing these leg raises every day.
He also gave me some new running techniques to try.
1: Push away the pavement. As you run, push the ground away behind you with your feet. I found it lengthened my stride and made me sprint more, which great for the flat, but no good on hills.
2: Little sharp steps. I did not get on with this one at all. I could not get my rhythm going and I felt like a pratt.
3: Don't let your knees touch. I liked this one, as soon as I made an effort not to let my knees come together, I found myself feeling more balanced and my arms did not flap about (as manically).
I tried the 'not touching my knees together' thing one my run today and got a PB along the seafront, even in oncoming wind.
Slightly off-topic, this morning, to get up the long slow hill at the end of the run in the pissing rain and howling wind, I employed a technique I read about in my cycling magazine.
It's very simple. I talked to my legs and told them they were going to do what I wanted. Then I told myself I was flying along. I was not. By the end I'd lost all technique and was limping, but rather than acnkowledge it, I told myself I was looking spot on and sprinting flat out.
I must confess I have not done any of my leg raising homework yet (I know, I hope I don't get detention!). I plan to do some later and then treat myself to chocolate after.
I am going back to see him again this friday. I'll let you know how I get on.
Love and light footsteps x