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?