After my new PR from the Dawg Dash this past Sunday, I started to notice my right hip hurting more than normal. It felt like the bone was rubbing against itself inside the outer hip socket. I looked up the pain that I was feeling and thought it might have been hip bursitis, but I was thinking that it might go away on its own. By the end of the night it was completely stiff, and I was having trouble walking. I thought that it might be best to take a few days off from running, then start back up. By Wednesday, I was limping horribly around the office and had to do something. I had never felt pain like this before.
Since I have my goal of running in the Seattle Half Marathon on November 29th, I looked online for a Seattle specialist that could help me with my injury. There was no way that I had put these months of training only to go to a bad doctor who didnt know what they were talking about. I decided on going to the Virginia Mason Sports Medicine Clinic. After reviewing online, I noticed that they were the team doctors for the Seahawks AND the Seattle Sounders (our new pro soccer team, which I happen to have season tickets to). With credentials like that, I decided to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chun.
The Sports Medicine Clinic is completely remodled and has memoriabilia from the Seahawks and the Sounders in their waiting area. I am terrified of hospitals, so I found this to be very relaxing and comforting to see sports magazines and picture of familiar faces rather than doomsday articles on horrible diseases. The lighting and decor was also much brigher and friendlier than I expected.
I was greeted quickly by Dr. Chun, who took me into the room and asked what was wrong. He heard my story about the Half Marathon, my training schedule and my lack of prior injuries. He had me perform a few tests to try to pinpoint what was wrong with my hip (bring athletic shorts and shirts to do this!) After a few painful squats and leg lifts, he determined that I had nothing wrong with the bones in my leg or with my hip joint (yay!!) but that I had completely overused my piriformis muscle. For those of you not familiar with this, it is a deep glute muscle that runs from the spine to the inner hip socket, and is a VERY common injury among runners and athletes. (Yes, this is a butt muscle, but you wouldnt be laughing if you felt this much pain in your hip!!) He also said that I have extremely flexible hip muscles, which could be why I cannot feel a stretch (which could have led to this injury).
Dr. Chun continued to talk to me for over a half hour, and even told me this:
"I know you are and athlete and want to continue to train. I can tell you not to workout for a few weeks, but I know that wont happen. Try the eleptical machine or the bike to keep up your endurance for a few weeks, and you should be able to run in the half marahthon. I know no matter what you will finish, I just want to see you running a few miles AFTER the race and not injured."
Basically, he is my favorite doctor of all time, or actually the only doctor that I have ever liked. I hope that I never have to go back there, but if I do, I will make sure to go back to Dr. Chun. I am entirely impressed with the whole appointment, and I encourage anyone with a sports related injury to go there.
So the moral of the story is:
- Add miles to your training VERY gradually
- Make sure to stretch your piriformis muscle
- If something hurts, DONT RUN ON IT!