The cause of my knee pain: a twisted pelvis?

Hello!  This post is all about another visit to a specialist to figure out the pain I’ve been having in my right knee.  If that’s not interesting to you (Hi Laura and Andrea!), here is a riddle:

There are six people at a table and a cake sliced into 6 pieces. Each person has a piece of cake in front of them, yet the cake pan still has a piece of cake in it. How is this possible?


Okay…so I saw another PT last night for a second opinion about what is going on with my knee.  Shout out to Salt for mystery injuries and multiple diagnoses!
The PT listened to me explain my 7-week IT band/knee pain and then did an incredibly comprehensive screening.

The appointment lasted almost an hour, and he helped me figure out not only my knee pain/IT band, but also the hamstring soreness that has plagued me for 2 years, AND the heel whip that I thought was just a quirk in my running form.  I’m feeling pretty good about all of it, and I’ll try to best to explain what he said…though I apologize if I get anything wrong…the ears are my thing, not the muscular or skeletal systems.

IT band syndrome:

  • Turns out that my sacrum (bone in the middle of the pelvis) had tilted and gotten stuck in a twisted position, making one leg functionally longer than the other.  This could have been caused by a number of things, as simple as reaching for a water bottle on the car floor while buckled, sleeping on my stomach with one foot at a certain angle, picking up a pencil, etc.
  • In attempt to shorten the functionally longer leg (my right leg), my whole right leg buckled slightly inward, and the arch of my foot flattened.  I’ve always had low arches, but prior to this appointment, the arch on my right foot was significantly lower (flat, really) than the arch on my left.
  • The leg length discrepancy and overpronation from the flat foot likely caused IT band syndrome.

To fix the twisted sacrum, he pushed on my lower back, and it felt like welcomed pressure–kind of like how it feels good when you crack your back, but nothing cracked or popped.  ..and VOILA! My legs were back to the same length and the arch in my right foot was back!  Still low, but there.  I was also able to twist more symmetrically (before he did that, it was significantly easier to twist to one side than the other).

He thought that the leg length difference from the tilted pelvis was likely the root of my IT band problem…so if the sacrum stays in place, I *should* be okay to run. !!!!!!!!!!!

Upkeep suggestions: Stretch & roll quads; push kneecap toward toes 3x/day (until my right knee stops cracking)

High hamstring pain:

My high hamstrings (where your hamstring meets your butt) have been sore for two years, and I thought it was because I had weak hamstrings.  He screened my lower body muscle strength and found that everything was strong except my glute max muscles (the main butt muscles).  Hamstrings were fine, as were quads, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius.  He concluded that my hamstrings are working overtime, and my glutes aren’t engaging as much as they should (or at all) when I run, or even when I do squats, lunges, etc.

Suggestions: lots of glute exercises (focus on engaging the glutes); tuck your tail while running to engage glutes (this also helps with posture!)

Heel whip:

This was a total bonus learning moment.  A heel whip is when you quickly twist your heel outward as you’re lifting off each step.  I have a wicked heel whip, and the soles of my shoes, as well as the calluses on the insides of my big toes, will prove it (I can literally touch my big toes together and not even feel it because the calluses are huge).  Oftentimes a heel whip is  caused by tight calves–specifically a tight soleus, which is the deeper calf muscle.  I stretch my calves daily, but surprise!– there are two calf muscles, and I’ve only been stretching one.

So that was all pretty awesome to hear…a quick fix is every injured runner’s dream.  I’ve run twice in the past two days (6 miles + 4 miles) without IT band pain.  We’ll see how the next week of running goes!

Did you solve the riddle??
How often do you stretch?


Weekending with Ryan and Karen

Summer semester is finished, so I’m now a 3rd year grad student (!!)–two years down, two to go.  Our last week of summer class was held at a retirement community, where we did hearing screenings and led discussion groups for the residents in the community.  It was fun and rewarding to work with the senior population…they have so many life experiences to share!

Now I have a few weeks of freedom to visit friends and spend time with my family before fall clinic and classes start, so Ryan visited over the weekend to begin Social Cram ’14.

He brought me a bag of veggies from his garden, and this tomato and cucumber were too perfect not to make into Bob and Larry. I played with the veggies while Ryan did actual work.
photo 3
Meet Bob and Larry.  We had a ridiculous amount of fun taking pictures of them.

Larry just couldn’t sit still during our photo shoot.  photo 5

Bob and Larry visit the graveyard. photo 3

We ate Bob and replaced him with a Reese’ 1

Though clearly Ryan and I know how to party, we also had fun without personifying our food.  We:

  • Went to Q’doba for a late dinner and saw someone playing a colorful piano set up outside the library with a play me sign.  Most of what he played sounded like improv…so so good. I am in awe of anyone who can just sit and play an instrument.

See the piano?photo 1photo 2

  • On Friday, we joined a group of senior citizens for Euchre night!!  (My friend Hannah and I saw a sign for it earlier in the week and asked the receptionist if anyone could come.)  We played Euchre for three hours with some pretty cool people…though my Euchre skills were seriously humbled by their 80+ years of card playing experience.
  • Ryan and I ate three sandwiches on Friday, ending with a 10:00pm Penn Station Philly Cheesesteak on the floor of my living room.  I think we were too tired to make it to the table?  This was after a looooong day in downtown Indianapolis followed by a few hours of meet & greet & Euchre.  Equal parts tired and hungry.

photo 1

  • Continuing with the sandwich theme but taking one step toward healthy, Ryan and I used the home-grown veggies for sandwiches on Saturday–we tried to clean out my fridge instead of buying groceries–success!  We also ate them in omelettes, banana-egg scrambles (that was all him), and raw with humus.  I’m not sure I had ever enjoyed eating a tomato until I tried one from his garden!  Yum.
  • We spent most of Saturday reading these books:
    My friend Morgan sent me Wild in the mail, and Ryan borrowed it.  I’m reading Night Circus, which I am in love with so far.

Weekend fitness:
Friday: 60 min AMT (6 x 4min hard, 10 x :30 hard); quick arms
Saturday: 60 min circuit: 4 x (5 min AMT + 10 min strength)
Sunday: rest

Did you do anything fun over the weekend?
If you saw a random piano with a “play me” sign on it….would you play it??

Pictures on a morning run

Today is rainy and gloomy, so I’m going to take us all on a photo tour of my run yesterday morning!  It was an exceptionally beautiful morning…and I took my phone with me (lesson learned).

<Quick injury update> 
With IT band syndrome, the pain usually comes after a certain number of strides/distance, and it’s okay to run as long as you stay under your “threshold.”  Basically, figure out how many miles you can go before you start hurting, and stop before that point.  Right now for me, it’s somewhere between 5 to 7 miles–though hopefully this number is increasing with the hip & glute strengthening I’ve been doing!!  I’ll write a post on the strength moves later–So I went 4 miles.

Since we can’t feel humidity through pictures, I’ll throw in a little imagery: It was as you were chasing a space heater through a tunnel of wet paper towels.  Now that we’re nice and sweaty, here we go!

I started the run on a peaceful path, punctuated by frog 1FUN FACT: Walmart is literally a quarter mile to the left of this trail.

I continued down the trail, alongside a patch of heavy fog hovering in the 2Kind of looks like an enormous spider web. …or a ghost!  Good thing I brought my phone.  (Who you gonna call?…)

photo 3
Another floating body of fog

photo 4
I turned off the trail and onto a bridge…right SMACK into this sunrise, which is extra illuminated by the bog below it.

photo 5
After two miles out, I turned around to head home and approached two deer.  I stopped, they stopped, and we all looked at each other.  I slowly maneuvered my phone out of the plastic bag I was carrying it in for sweat-protection and snapped a few pictures before they ran off.

All of that nature in only four miles.  Also- no pain during the run or later that day. 🙂

If you run with your phone: How do you keep it dry?
Would you rather run (or walk) at sunrise or sunset?

Sleepy weekend and Balanced app

So that was a weird weekend.  I’m usually not good at sitting still–I walk around while I study, pause Netflix every few minutes to “get something really quick,” change positions every 5 minutes when I read, and apparently fidget while sitting in class (I’ve been called The Bobblehead?..).  This weekend though, I got hit with a tidal wave of exhaustion…the precise degree of tiredness occurred to me when I contemplated spitting out a half-eaten cookie because chewing the rest simply seemed to hard.

So instead of tackling Mission: Decorate Apartment, I ordered a few pictures from Shutterfly, took like ten naps, and read a whole book.  I’m convinced that I had mild West Nile Virus from one of the countless mosquito bites I got from camping the weekend before, but I am also somewhat dramatic when it comes to illness, so who knows.  According to the internet, slight cases of West Nile get better on their own, but no matter what I had, the important part is that now I am back to normal.

After a meeting on campus first thing this morning, I went to the rec center for a workout, and it felt so good to move and sweat after being stationary for the whole weekend.  I did a “ladder run” on the AMT: 10 min easy, 2 x (1min hard+1 min easy, 2 min hard+1 min easy, …5 min hard+1 min easy), 10 min easy.  Followed by some hip strengthening at home with a resistance band.

During my time on the couch, I downloaded a new app called Balanced.   Balanced helps you form habits by setting a goal for each activity of x times per day/week/month/year.  You swipe right each time you complete the activity and earn “points” that unlock new features of the app. I chose four goal activities from the list of predetermined topics (though you can write your own if you’re feeling creative): study, read, yoga/stretching, go for a walk.
The “go for a walk” that happened 10 minutes ago is actually a lie because I accidentally swiped right…you earn the option to undo a swipe by completing tasks (um weird), but I haven’t gotten enough points yet.

It also sends you gentle reminders, which is nice…or not…depending on if you like when your phone tells you what to do.

I mostly downloaded this app for motivation to stretch & strengthen twice a day to fix my hips & IT band so that I can run again, but I’ve also been using it to feel good and accomplished from fun reading.

Do you use any productivity apps?
Can you sit still or are you a fidgeter/pacer?

A run and some fun facts

Almost weekend!  Does anyone have anything fun coming up?  I think I want to make some sort of DIY project because now that I’ve lived in the same apartment for a year, it’s probably about time to decorate.  Pinterest is calling my name…

Guess what?!  I ran yesterday.  5.7 glorious miles with my friend Erin.
photo-13It was my first run in a week and a half, and I was hopeful that the hip strengthening I’ve been doing would completely mitigate the knee pain.  For the first 5.5 miles, I was SO HAPPY to be running again–I felt like I was flying (um, until I looked at my pace), and my knee felt awesome!
…and then my knee hurt after 5.5 miles, but the timing worked out quite well because we were basically back to our cars.  I’m not healed yet, but I’m hopefully getting there.

Erin and I covered a loop around campus and chatted away.  She’s my “summer 2014: binge-watch terrible yet awesome shows on Netflix” partner, and I finally finished PLL this week, so we had a lot to talk about.

Speaking of friends, the lovely ladies at Fitness Meets Frosting and It’s a Marathon and a Sprint nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Thanks for the nom!


The Rules:
Thank and link to the person who nominated you
List the rules and display the award
Share seven facts about yourself
Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated
Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you

Seven facts:

  1. Most of my bookshelf is contemporary fiction, but of my nonfictions, the majority are about: happiness, running, the Holocaust, child development, or autism.
  2. I eat oatmeal in a very particular (some say weird) way: cook it in the microwave, then let it sit for 20 extra minutes until it hardens…you should be able to do this:
    …and then spread peanut butter on the top.
  3. I have been the treasurer for two college clubs/associations, and now I am completely sure that I am not meant for a logistic, mathematic, or financial career path.  I am thankful for a father, sister, boyfriend, friends, and classmates who don’t cower at the sight of spreadsheets.
  4. My favorite singer/songwriter is Ingrid Michaelson, and I’ve seen her live twice in Michigan.  My second favorite artist is Sara Bareilles.
  5. Games that I am really good at: Spot It, Taboo, logic puzzles.  Games that I am really bad at: Mario Kart, Wiffle ball, random trivia.  Games that I hate: Monopoly (see #3).
  6. My college diploma doesn’t have my middle name on it because I forgot to write it on the form.  Whaddup, Summa Cum Laude.
  7. I haaaate cold weather, and I use two Happy Lights over the winter.  I also keep a plastic water bottle in my car so that I can celebrate when it thaws out.  Sometimes you need to be creative with coping mechanisms…

I nominate everyone.

What section of a bookstore do you go to first?
Favorite game? Least favorite game?

Goodbye old building

Today marks the day of my very last class in the building that I lived, slept, and breathed for the past two years.  Summer clinic ended last week, our last few days of class will be spent worked with residents at a retirement community, and our program is relocating to a shiny new building next week.

Goodbye, old building.  We love you!
Actually, we don’t.  You were never a comfortable temperature, and you evoked stress. And potentials (ha- that joke is for you, classmates!).Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 9.08.07 PM

Moving on to fitness, I have a workout to share with you guys!  I made up a circuit to do on the indoor track last week (though it could easily be done anywhere), and thought it was a good one for cardio and core.

I think I completed about 4 rounds in an hour–it was hard but also kind of fun and fast-paced.  Bonus that it kept my mind off my itchy feet!  Does anyone else attract mosquitos like a champion?  I got over 18 bites just on my LEFT FOOT (and 13+ on the right foot) from the camping trip over the weekend (slept without socks…rookie mistake!!), and I’ve been clawing at the bites like crazy.  I would throw in a picture of my swollen spotted feet, but then I’d lose all readers except my mom (who would send me more Benadryl) and my dad (with whom I bond over gross things).

I’m meeting with my friend Erin to run tomorrow morning, and it’ll be my first run in over a week.  Fingers crossed for no knee pain!

Have you had any terrible mosquito experiences?
Are you going on (or have you gone on) any fun trips this summer?


Camping round 2

This weekend flew by.  I’ll recap fitness from last week and then move on to more fun things, like camping!

After getting lost and accidentally running longer than I planned to last weekend, my right knee hurt for the rest of the day on Sunday but felt fine by Monday.  I’ve been really diligent about rolling, stretching, and strengthening my hips over the past week to get rid of the knee pain, but I haven’t tried to run more than a few miles since then.
Mon: rest
Tues: 60 min AMT: 4 x 4-min intervals, 5 x 1:30-min intervals; pm yoga
Wed: 60 min circuit: 5 x (5-min AMT + 10 min strength)
Thurs: 60 min circuit: 5 x (1/2 mile run + 10 min strength)–this was a good circuit, so I might have to share it later.  I added kettleball swings for the first time and was amazed by how hard they are!
Fri: 60 min AMT; arms
Sat: 60 min circuit: 3 x (run 1 mile + 8 min strength)

A good week of fitness with a lot of strength workouts.  I’m feeling optimistic about running soon with no knee pain.

Now to more exciting things.  Ryan and I went camping this weekend!  We camped once last summer, but other than that, my camping experience is limited to a cabin or someone’s backyard.  This time, we met up with his close group of friends at a campground in Illinois and had a fabulous time.

We packed up the car on Saturday morning and headed out to meet with two other friends with whom we were carpooling.  It poured and poured and POURED when we got to their apartments, so Ryan changed into his swimsuit to pack up the cars.  He got soaked running from car to car to move everything into one trunk.  I would say he took one for the team, but I think he enjoyed it.  We were all pumped up for splashfest2014, tent-style, but the rain completely cleared up by the time we got to the campsite.

Once all eight of us arrived, we ate lunch and set up our tents, and then we went swimming at the lake…or talking on the sand with fellow friends who are grossed out by lake water (*raises hand*).  Then we 4

We all hung out for the rest of the day–grilled hotdogs & burgers, played frisbee, talked, ate watermelon…photo 5

And stayed up late talking, roasting marshmallows, and playing Taboo by headlamp.  My s’more count this summer is almost as large the number of bug bites on my left foot right now! (20?)

Hope you had a great weekend!

Tent, cabin, or hotel?
Any good runs this weekend?