Figured It Out

Well, I know what’s causing me to hobble around: Piriformis Syndrome (PS). I went to my PT to get a sports massage and after a conversation and a few tests he delivered the news.

PS occurs when your piriformis muscle spasms which can cause a pain in your ass. It can also irritate the sciatic nerve and cause soreness, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and foot.

Below are the general symptoms of PS. The ones with check boxes next to them apply to me.


I thought the majority of these symptoms were caused by the calf tightness I was feeling but it turns out the calf tightness/soreness is a symptom itself.

In addition to my calf issue, in recent weeks I’ve had several headaches and my neck has gotten stiff and felt sore more than a handful of times. I didn’t really consider what was causing the headaches since they went away with Advil. Plus, everyone gets headaches from time to time, right? I assumed the neck soreness was occurring from sleeping the wrong way. I had actually put it on my to-do list to go buy new pillows to try and alleviate the neck issue. It never, ever occurred to me that the headache and neck soreness would be related to each other or to anything else that was going on with my body.

Speaking of my body, I didn’t blog about having pelvic/groin pain when we got back from the Dominican Republic because … well some things you just don’t write about on a running blog! This is yet another symptom that I didn’t even think could be related to my calves until I learned what PS was. When we first got home from the DR I told Adam I thought I might have an infection of some sort because sometimes my pelvis hurt like I had just been kicked hard in the region. I even took some OTC medicine.

Sometimes the pain would be so strong it would take my breath away, but usually just as quickly as it came on it would go away. Basically, I could ‘walk it off.’ I probably should have gone to the doctor but … yeah, I tend to avoid that. Now it all makes sense.

Before you think I’m totally crazy, I do have an appointment with my GYN soon and I’ll bring this up just in case it is something unrelated to PS. A few years ago I had to have cryo surgery to remove pre-cancerous cells on my cervix, so even though I don’t like going to see the doctor more than I have to I do take this stuff pretty seriously.

You know what’s really odd to me though? Most of the time my hips and buttocks aren’t bothering me at all. Sure, my hips get tight and I have to stretch them out, but overall I wouldn’t say they are bothersome. Not in the way that I would think they would be if I had PS. Sometimes I can feel a knot in my right butt cheek but it doesn’t throb and it’s not really painful…My PT said I should be grateful.

How did I end up with PS? It’s likely related to having had hip bursitis earlier this year. Also, my glutes are not strong (enough), I need to work on that more.

So, what does this mean for the Chicago Marathon?

I’m still running it! My goal now will be to have FUN and cross the finish line without experiencing any foot numbness. If my foot gets tingly or goes numb I have to stop. I’m really glad that Chicago is so flat because the the tingling in my feet and subsequent (temporary) numbness was exasperated by the bridge I had to go over twice in the 10K I participated in over the weekend. 

To be honest, with the weather creeping up in temperature a part of me is relieved to not have to chase down a time goal. I’m trying to see the positives in all of this. If I didn’t look for a bright side I would be really upset that I spent all summer slogging it out in 90-100 degree weather to watch my marathon goal spiral down the tubes.

Plus it could be worse, at least I still get to line up in Chicago armed with knowledge that should help me get safely to the finish line. It’s comforting to know what is causing my calves to feel so tight and sore, and now I know what’s going on when my feet get tingly.

The marathon is no joke and I have so much respect for it. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I have a smooth and enjoyable race. I’m not taking any chances because when I come home I really want to be able to recoup and then race a couple of half marathons in January/February.

I’ll have to reduce my mileage when I get home. I’ll have to do a lot of things… but for now I’m just focused on what I need to do in Chicago to respect the marathon distance and my body.

Repeat after me: everything will be fine and I will cross the finish line.

…You know what feels REALLY good right now? Hot showers. I’m off to take one right now. The warmth loosens up my calves and feels amazing!

Have you ever dealt with PS? Any advice? 



  1. October 8, 2015 / 5:03 am

    I have dealt with this for a long, long time! If you want to chat about it shoot me an email! I have run a marathon with mild symptoms. However, it seems like people can have different types of symptoms, so definitely be aware of your body and do what feels right for you!

    • Kristina
      October 8, 2015 / 8:12 am

      That is really encouraging to hear. I’m definitely going to email you today, thank you!!

  2. October 8, 2015 / 7:57 am

    So funny you should post this. I’m headed out for a sports massage later today because I think this is what is causing pain in my right hip/pelvis. I’ve been having a lot of what I assume is sciatic nerve pain. My internet diagnosis is either that or a herniated disc. And I’d like to think that I am too young to have back issues like a herniated disc. Plus PS is much more common in runners. Crossing my fingers that I am feeling at least a bit better after my massage.

    Everything will be fine and you will definitely be crossing that finish line!

    • Kristina
      October 8, 2015 / 8:11 am

      The sports massage definitely helped! My PT said it would provide temporarily relief so I’m not sure how long the magic lasts but it works! I hope you feel better after the massage!

  3. October 8, 2015 / 8:22 am

    I am glad you figured it out because I know it’s nice KNOWING what is wrong and then making the steps to correct it. I am also glad you are still able to run Chicago, but disappointed you can’t go for your PR. 🙁 I know you will have a GREAT time though, and maybe you will still PR even with keeping a safe pace so your feet don’t get tingly. Do you think that is possible?

    • Kristina
      October 8, 2015 / 10:35 am

      YES! I absolutely think I will still PR, I just won’t be going for my A goal. Overall I just want to improve in the marathon distance every single year that I do one so I should still be able to meet that B goal!

  4. October 8, 2015 / 9:11 am

    Oh wow, PS? That is interesting. I’ve given myself a self diagnosis of that due to the “pain in the ass” I always get on my long training runs and races. I describe it as someone taking a screw and just tightening down on my glutes. It’s not a sharp pain though, just a “never going away” deep pain. I don’t have any of the other symptoms you listed, so who knows for me. I stretch after every run now faithfully, and try to strengthen my glutes (when I remember). I will be interested in seeing what PT exercises you get!
    I’m glad you are still going to run Chicago. The best races are the ones where you are having fun!! Although it’s great to PR, it puts such a stress on us during the race and it could be so much more enjoyable.
    Slap some hands… get the crowd going… and enjoy yourself!!

    • Kristina
      October 8, 2015 / 10:36 am

      I will definitely share the exercises/stretches I am doing here on the blog!

      Every day the race weather in Chicago seems to creep up a bit closer to 80 so that is helping me feel good about my decision to take it easy. Ultimately, even without PS, I would probably have had to back down on my A goal a bit just because it’s going to be so warm!

  5. October 8, 2015 / 9:36 am

    I hope you are able to enjoy Chicago, despite the PS! That is a rough diagnosis, but at least you now know what’s going on–it always seems to help to at least have a label for the reason for your pain.

    • Kristina
      October 8, 2015 / 10:37 am

      So true, Denise! I like knowing what it is, that makes me feel like I can control the situation a bit better. Even if that’s not true, it’s a psychological boost in a way!

  6. October 8, 2015 / 9:37 am

    It stinks it is so close to the marathon, but it’s good you figured out what is going on. You can work on strengthening and stretching and hopefully it will improve for you. Have a great weekend 🙂

  7. Susan
    October 8, 2015 / 9:42 am

    I am very glad you got some answers & have a game plan for the race + when you come home! I have really had to adjust my training/running over the years due to hip/hamstring issues & arthritis in my lower back. I can tell you, that even though you might need to change things up a bit, you can get back to running w/ out pain at the level you want. Just be persistent & consistent w/ everything the PT tells you to do. Can’t wait to follow you on Sunday. You got this!

  8. October 8, 2015 / 10:04 am

    I have been dealing with piriformis issues for a while. I find lots of stretching helps. I like to foam roll this area as well. Luckily I work with some awesome PTs that help me out when needed. Good luck with Chicago! I’m excited to see how it goes for you. I’ve run it 3 times and it’s my favorite race! Though I’m biased being from there and all….

  9. October 8, 2015 / 10:22 am

    Good that you figured it out! I also would never have guessed that something as simple as a headache could be tied to a bigger issue. So glad that you are still doing the race!

  10. October 8, 2015 / 11:03 am

    Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear this, but at the same time, I’m sure it has been a relief to get a diagnosis for all of these things that have been bothering you. Did you get a treatment plan? When do you think you can start to recover?

  11. October 8, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    I’m so sorry about this, but I’m also so glad you got a diagnosis. Now you can start to work on getting better! And I love your attitude about the marathon… you WILL finish and you WILL have a great time 🙂

  12. October 8, 2015 / 1:46 pm

    Oh, no, that sucks, but at least you know what’s going on! I’m glad you can still do the race! Hope things go well and improve after it.

  13. October 8, 2015 / 2:05 pm

    Oh man, what a bummer! I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this! But I’m super happy you still get to run on Sunday! Just take it easy and take care of yourself. And hey, at least you will most likely still get to say you ran a PR! And then feel like a total badass because how many people can say they PRd while dealing with nagging symptoms of PS?

    Its a bummer that you can’t shoot for your A goal anymore but you’re right, it can be nice to take the pressure off. Maybe you’ll even surprise yourself!

  14. October 8, 2015 / 3:21 pm

    I’m glad you got a diagnosis so quickly! You have a great attitude going into your race and I think that will serve you really well. Keep us all posted on the rehab exercises you get, I want to make sure and add them to my to-do list. 🙂

  15. October 8, 2015 / 10:58 pm

    Ugh, sorry you’re dealing with this! At least it sounds like you have some answers, though. Hope it resolves soon!