pigeoned feet that stuck out? Either way, the problems with my body didn’t really surface until I started playing sports in middle school. Maybe part of the problem was the fact my body wasn’t ready for the wrecking it was going to take in regards to playing soccer, basketball, volleyball and track. I was okay in soccer, but not great. I thought I could do well in basketball, but my height was merely a false indicator of my greatness. I should have stuck with track and field, because I did have some potential in that sport. But then I developed what I thought was a decent jump shot, and the downward spiral started from there. Ankle injury after ankle injury started coming about. I was told I needed to strengthen my ankles through some simple exercises, but those never really worked. It was pretty crazy after a while, for I injured myself so many times that I didn’t know if it was serious or not unless I heard the signature “tearing” sound that permeated in my ears. That was when I knew it would take a good few days before I was back to normal. Most of the time my ankle injury recovery took a mere few minutes, for it started happening so often that my ligaments must have been pre-strained or something.
When I got older, my leg problems started developing in other forms, namely the entire leg would have a shot of pain. This was when I was standing up nearly 90% of the day, so the long ligaments that run along my leg would get tight at some point during the day, and I would have to stretch it out. Most of the time I didn’t stretch it, for I would just take a quick bathroom break and sit down for a few minutes to relieve the stress. But the worst thing that could have possibly happened to my leg is the fact I never worked out, never really ran or did anything physical. If anything, all of my problems became much worse as I gained weight and added additional issues to the docket. There were times when I worked with my father when I would sit down in the truck, going between jobs and then when I stepped out, it would be instant limp city. It would take few moments to regain the feeling in my leg and walk normal. Of course, little did I know what kind of damage I was doing.
So now here I am, nearly three years into a fitness regimen that has seen me change from an apple-headed fat guy into a slightly leaner version of myself (well, 140 pounds really isn’t slight). But as I have gotten better in the fitness game, my desire to be better is still being hindered by a lot of little things, especially my right leg. Now the recent issues with my leg have stemmed from an ill-advised attempt at a half marathon and an ill-advised pre race ritual of tightly wrapping my calves eve though I had no problems with cramping or anything. Throw in a lower back injury and I was pretty messed up. But here is the great thing about having to come back from an injury; the ability to learn from the past mistakes and rebuild. This past week, I have started the process of doing some of the little things in order to fix my body up a little bit. Having to adjust to things isn’t a new endeavor for me. When I first started running, one of my bigger problems was my iliotibial (IT) band, which was a constant problem during the early days. One of the unique issues of starting a running regimen at roughly 300 pounds is the fact my body wasn't ready for any distance…period.
Now when it came to working on my IT band, I had to gradually work on my distance, which is the number one recommended remedy for dealing with an IT band problem. The IT band lies along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. When you run, your knee flexes and extends, which causes the IT band to rub on the side of the femur. There were most likely two problems that enabled this condition to flourish in me. 1) My core and legs weren’t strong enough and 2) my body was so out of whack, my pelvis was unbalanced going toward my right side. I was ablate solve this problem rather easily, taking on neutral heel shoes at the recommendation of some running experts while also getting more familiar with squatting and dead lifting, two things I had been kind of backing off on because I wanted to be able to run and walk more mileage. I have also been seeing a chiropractor weekly, and the wear patterns in my shoes aren’t as right-centric as they used to be. Thanks to some better stretching and a stronger body, the IT band really isn’t a big issue for me anymore, for adjusting my shoes to a neutral heel made it much easier to distribute the stress on my foot as opposed to putting the stress to the outside my foot. These changes have allowed me to run longer distances at harder paces, which is something I greatly desire. It was kind of cool this week to see I had not lost much in the leg strength department, for Jon had me do a decent dead lifting exercise that witnessed me do 20 lifts that averaged a good 250 pounds per lift, finishing it up with four lifts at 300 pounds. I was also pleased to see that my bench press hadn’t lost any bite to it either, for I haven’t really been focusing on weight all that much recently (I topped out at 215).
But now the next phase of my running injuries are starting to crop up, and it is now time to start doing something about it. Up until this point, I already know that my achilles and my calves are becoming a bit problematic. My achilles is getting flared up due to improper stretching, and my calves are getting blown up due to weakness and overuse, a deadly combo for anyone that is trying to increase their distance. The great thing about Parsons Training is the fact that training and making a client better isn’t just something that is completely dependent on one person (in this case, Jon). I’ve taken advice from just about everyone in regards to injuries and addressing them. Christa has given me insight about some achilles management, showing me some stretches to start utilizing on a regular basis and gave me some basic pointers with the foam roller when I first started using the weird contraption (best 33 bucks I have spent when I got my own!). Chris Gomez also gave me some good pointers on how to properly stretch my calves, which basically connect to the achilles tendon. But here was something else that I never considered when it came to my running: posture and back strength.
Now I’m not gonna lie, the biggest issue when I run is when I lose focus, all hell breaks lose. This typically happens when I start getting extremely fatigued, where I start running with my toes and launching off my calves rather than my quads and start losing proper posture. When you start leaning forward while running, the pressure you are putting on your knees while also restricting blood flow to your muscle can ultimately slow you down. And here is the other issue: you start losing oxygen to your brain, which might cause you to lose focus and continue making running mistakes that will ultimately lead to the problems I seem to keep running into. Now of course, my problems were aggravated by the fact I ran some hill-ridden runs with some nasty inclines, but this doesn’t mean I still have weaknesses to address. Chris and Hector both started talking to me about my leg strength, and a couple things were pointed outing the process. For one, my right foot still points out a little bit, which might center around the fact I have been a small car driver for all of my life. Chris seemed to point out the people in smaller cars tend to not firmly put their foot over the gas pedal, using just the side of the foot as they lean it. Combined with my history of ankle injuries, this sounds like a pretty good reason for this to happen. This crookedness might cause some balance issues, for my running gait does change a little when I am not concentrating and keeping my feet as straight as possible. One of the toughest things I have dealt with this week is dealing with the soreness on the side of my right ankle, which is once again having to be retrained. Back to the back! Chris asked me to try a simple squat technique where I put my hands over my head, push my knees out with my feet pointing forward. If I could stay straight, then it means my flexibility is good and my back strength is decent. Well, I failed pretty miserably, and it took a few tries to get the motion down to a much more fluid look. It rained on my pretty heavily, that my calf may be a problem, but I also have to have a stronger and more flexible back. So now I’m going to start doing these squats more often, while also doing more back stretches with the PVC poles that Jon has me use from time to time. If anything, this is the next step I will have to work on, for if I don’t have a strong flexible back, a flexible strong achilles along with conditioned calves and a well stretched IT band, I will never become the runner or athlete I want to become.
Now I am not putting myself down in this respect, but I do understand that my health is not something that will be fixed overnight. Look at it this way, I have had nearly my entire life to wreck my body and weaken it in ways that would not allow me to reach optimal performance. Added into the mix are the injuries I’m trying to work through, which in the span of less than two weeks severely weakened me. But that is the key to fitness and life in general. You have to have patience, and that is something I surely have to keep working on as well.
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.