Injuries are the dreaded fear of every runner I know. There is nothing worse as a runner than being in shape and able to run, sans that one pesky part of your body that got itself injured and is now making your life miserable. Darn you, knee, or hip, or foot, or pinkie toe, etc.
I've never been a particularly injury-prone runner. I feel like I should knock on wood even as I type that! After my second marathon a couple years ago, I had some IT band issues that caused side knee pain, but it happened to coincide with a really snowy winter, so I was sidelined during the crappy part of the running year, anyway. And, late last year, I had to deal with my plantar faciitis, which sucked, but didn't put too much of a crimp in my run schedule. Especially once I finally went to the podiatrist. It's like they're trained to deal with people's foot pain or something. Weird.
And, even if I am not particularly prone to injuries, it does seem as I get older, I am getting injured more frequently. Stupid aging process.
So, about a month ago, I went for my regular morning run. Everything went fine. I mean, I had to catapult over a couple giant snow piles at some intersections, but nothing too crazy. I got home, and everything was fine. I showered, and everything was fine. I put my daughter in her car seat and drove her to our morning activity. Everything was fine. Then ... I went to get her out of her car seat and all of a sudden, EEEK! I felt this horrible sharp pain in the back of my left knee. Ouch!
Now, of course, because I'm an optimist (denial isn't just a river in Egypt, you know) I think, "Hmmm, well, that's painful. But, I'm sure it will be fine. I'll walk it off. It'll be better in a few minutes."
As I continue through my day, the pain got more and more intense. The more I walked on it, the more it hurt. It was not good.
I started freaking out. When I finally got home that afternoon, I immediately grabed an ice pack, popped some ibuprofen, and propped my leg up on the couch.
"Sorry kids, Mommy can't play dress up with you because she's insanely worried about this pain in her knee."
I have race after race on my spring calendar. I did not have time for an injury. It couldn't happen.
So, what's the next logical step for any runner worth her salt? Oh yeah, heading to the internet to find anyone else with this same pain and see what they did to solve the problem. That always helps, right?
Ok, maybe not. But, I was getting desperate and my optimism was slowly giving way to massive amounts of pessimism. It doesn't help that one of my good runner girlfriends is dealing with the dreaded "runner's knee." My thoughts immediately went to all the pain and frustration she's been experiencing. I did not want it. I started getting very grumpy. You can ask my husband. He will attest to this.
After finding very little helpful information on the internet (imagine that!), I went to my next logical step. I called my dad, who also happens to be a doctor. He had me move my leg around a couple positions and tell him when it hurts. He concluded that it sounded like a strained hamstring. Nothing like getting diagnosed over the phone, right?
The remedy? Rest and ice. Well, at least I was doing that right. The next morning, my knee was feeling immensely better. I could actually walk without limping and wincing. I took two days off from running, and magically, my knee seemed to be as good as new. Like it never even happened. It was crazy.
But, the incident scared me. I do not want to really get injured, so when I was walking through Target the next week, and happened across a foam roller, well, I figured it was a sign that I needed to get serious about injury prevention.
As much as I've been aware of foam rolling from all my friends and other runners, I'd never actually jumped on the bandwagon. No more. I was hopping on board.
I headed back to the trusty internet to search for some YouTube videos that showed how to use this crazy cylinder that was now hanging out in my living room. This time, I did actually find some helpful information. I followed the instructions of some random PT, and ... HOLY COW, that hurt!
I immediately texted my girlfriend with the runner's knee issue as she's been foam rolling for a while. "Why didn't you warn me that this thing was a torture device?!?" I asked her. "But, it's a good hurt," she replied.
And, that part was true. It did hurt like the dickens, but in a good way. In a way where you know it's doing some good. So, I've now become a faithful foam roller. I do it after every single run.
Ha! If you believe that, well, I've got a bridge to sell you over that river of denial.
Ok, so, I'm not exactly faithful about it. BUT, I have been doing it, that I promise you. I keep it in my living room, not because it adds so much to the decor, but because if I see it when I'm watching TV at night, I sometimes remember to do it. That's about as much as I can commit to right now, but it's better than nothing.
So, I'm now on the foam rolling bandwagon. If it helps keep me from getting injured as I keep getting older, then I'll keep rolling my muscles on this crazy torture device. If you want to join me on this wagon of torture, I promise, it will hurt. But, I also promise, it is a good hurt.
Afterall, I'm pretty sure John Mellencamp was singing about foam rolling when he sang, "Hurt so good. Come on baby, make it hurt so good." I mean, what else could that be about?