Suddenly Injured and Lessons Learned

Tuesday evening,  I was watching TV with the boyfriend and my knee started to ache.  By the time bed time rolled around I couldn’t easily bend or unbend my left leg.  I was completely confused because I hadn’t been to the gym since Sunday. Why was this suddenly hurting so badly?  I ended up going into the living room and trying to sleep in the recliner so I didn’t keep BF up all night.  I didn’t get any sleep, but at least he did.

Wednesday morning I was feeling pretty awful.  I actually cried walking down the stairs at the Metro.  As soon as I got to work I called my mom, an orthopedic nurse in Pennsylvania, and begged for some advice.  She suggested going and getting it checked out.  She reminded me that it’s always a good idea to get in as an existing patient with a specialist so in the event of an emergency I can have a good relationship with a doctor.  My mom is smart.

So began my quest to find an orthopedist.  Not to digress into a “what is wrong with health care in America” post, but this was an eye opener.  I have good insurance and can see pretty much any doctor in the DC/VA/MD area.  I called 10 orthopedists, many of which were affiliated with major hospital centers (I’m looking at you GWU Hospital) and the earliest appointment I could find was February 15th, almost 2 full weeks away.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was actually scolded by two offices and told “This isn’t an urgent care facility. If you’re in pain maybe you should go to the Emergency Room.” Really? This is why Emergency Rooms are overcrowded disasters.  Thankfully, Emily at  Daily Garnish had visited a great orthopedist in Northern VA and gave me their contact info.  And even more thankfully they were able to squeeze me in at 2 pm.

After a few x-rays to make sure there was nothing chipped or broken in my knee, I was quickly diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome.  Bummer, but thankfully very treatable.

People who suddenly increase their level of activity, such as runners who increase their mileage, often develop iliotibial band syndrome. Others who are prone to ITBS include individuals with mechanical problems of their gait such as people who overpronate (source).  I fall into both of these categories and have definitely learned a very valuable lesson about over training.  As I mentioned in my last post, I covered way more miles in January than I have ever before while not cross training as much as I wanted to.  While I’m still proud of powering through all of those miles, I really did set myself up for this injury. Actually, my doctor was shocked that I didn’t feel any pain prior to Tuesday.  Apparently my tendon was so inflamed that he thought I’d been hobbling around for weeks.

Whats happening now: Yesterday I received a cortisone shot in my knee (since the tendon was extra-inflamed the good doctor decided to hop right in with the shot, even though it’s typically a second appointment treatment) that was extremely helpful (albeit extremely painful) and some prescription anti-inflammatory pills.  I’m not allowed to exercise at all until Sunday, which is the Super Bowl so I’ll take an extra day off.  Next week, I’m going to start incorporating a whole bunch of IT band stretches into my daily routine along with some light cycling (sadly no spin class, I’ll be the person hanging out on the recumbent bikes reading a book) and that’s it.  No running for 10-14 days. Last night, I was pretty “woe is me about this”, because I had big plans for a Valentine’s Day 5K PR with the boyfriend.  While the race is 11 days into 10-14 day run ban, I could probably jog/walk the 5K, but I’m not really sure if I want to, though BF said he’d walk the whole thing with me if I decide to participate (awwww).  I have a lot of races planned for the spring and I really don’t want to miss out of any of them because I didn’t give this time to fully calm down.  10-14 days off from running is a pretty light sentence for ITBS, I need to be very thankful for that.  I promised the doctor I’d use common sense in deciding when to get back out and I should  make good on it.

Have you ever experienced ITBS or another running related injury? How did you pass the time while you weren’t allowed to run?

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Suddenly Injured and Lessons Learned

  1. Same problem love 😦 Although mines a little more standard in presentation than yours (aches ~1-2mi into a run, progressively gets worse until I stop. If I stop too late I’m out for 5+ days; if I stop at the first twinge then immediately stretch, I only miss the rest of that workout). Best thing ever? Invest in a foam roller. Roll out your IT bands, piriformis, glutes and tensor fascia latae every night when you’re watching TV (I roll during commercials during all my shows. It feels GREAT!) and then before and after workouts. If you keep rolling it out and then do some strength moves (the ones the doc gave you for hips/glutes strength) you’ll avoid being sidelined for more than a day or two. It’s worked for me for the past 3 months or so!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      I have a foam roller but never focused on the IT band before because it never hurt! But now it will be getting a lot more use!

  2. Oh Carly – SO happy to hear it’s ITBS and not something more serious! Although bummed to hear that you have to take 10-14 days off from running! The time off will be worth it though – come back healthy & strong.

    I’ve had a few injuries that sidelined me for weeks from running… back problems and then a nasty ankle sprain in 2008 that resulted in 4 months of no running. My best advise is to really listen to what your doctor says & back off – otherwise you’ll end up re-injured! Find cross-training that you enjoy to keep yourself occupied. (That’s how I discovered spinning & now that’s my favorite workout of the week!)

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      Me too! 14 days is a lot of time for IT Band strengthening. I’m definitely going to make them part of my daily routine so hopefully this doesn’t happen again. I’m hoping I can ignite a love for upper body strength training as well, though I doubt I’ll be able to pull off that miracle 😛

      I can’t imagine having to take 4 months off. Hearing that you were out for so long makes me want to take it extra slow coming back. It’s really impressive that you did come back and have run so much!

  3. I agree, take the ‘break’ seriously… that is a very short time (I know, it doesn’t feel like it!!) and you don’t want further injury. I walked a lot, and got back into strength training. I’m not a swimmer, but that is an excellent alternative.

    sorry this happened – take care and feel better SOON! xo

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      I am definitely going to do some core work and some upper body strength work. I asked about swimming in the 10-14 day window, but he actually said no! No swimming unless I want to just hang onto the edge of the pool and do scissor kicks. When I say light cycling, I sadly mean barely moving my legs.

      I’m feeling a lot better already. That shot worked miracles. Thank goodness for doctors!

  4. Liz

    I saw your tweets and was worried about you! I have had a bunch of injuries, from a stress fracture to my own ITB problems. My pain was in my hip though, and I can now manage it with stretches and foam rolling (so that should give you hope that you will be able to manage it to!). It sucks that you will be having to change your race goals, but you will be happy that you took the time off once you are healed.

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      I’m really happy to hear that people have come back from ITB problems! I’m excited to start stretching and foam rolling tomorrow.
      Since running Love the Run will be a bad idea, I’m going to volunteer. At least I’ll get to do something 🙂

  5. I am constantly stretching out my ITband-foam rollers!!!! I just had a deep stretch done at my training session this morning bc it was acting up so bad!!!!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      I think my foam roller will have to become part of my daily routine. I never really focused on my IT bands before because they didn’t hurt but now I’m just going to stretch regardless.

  6. Oh! So sorry to hear about this. But at least its not something more serious. Running injuries are so scary to me. I hope to avoid them when training. You all will have lots to teach me!

  7. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

    Thanks Tina! It’s already feeling so much better!

  8. Thanks for sharing your story with us! I have really bad knees from spinning injuries pre-wedding (yeah…. TOTALLY my fault!) but never got them looked at b/c I didn’t have insurance. I’m so overdue to make an appointment. yikes!

    Glad your knee is going to be ok and is treatable!!! What a relief!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      Oh my gosh, I looked at the bill and if I didn’t have insurance that one appointment would have set me back over a thousand bucks because of the x-rays. It’s terrifying to think about.
      I’m really relieved the knee is feeling better. Hopefully it stays feeling good when I start stretching and doing some light cycling!

  9. 10-14 days is nothing, I’m on month 3 of no running. Consider yourself lucky, and I don’t mean to sound harsh, but just imagine 90 days of no running.
    Glad that you’ve got this under a positive outlook. Skip the valentine’s 5k, have a glass of wine, and get back to it after your rest. 🙂

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas

      I definitely thought of you when I was saying 10-14 is not a bad off period! When I was kind of thinking about maybe jogging the 5k, I was like “Carly, if you do this you could end up sidelined for MONTHS!” So I’m taking this much easier now. I may even try swimming sometime – you’ve had such success!
      I’m actually going to volunteer at the Valentines Day 5K since my boyfriend is still running and so are a few of my friends. It ended up working out pretty well.

  10. Hey! Thanks for the advice about the TV, sad part is, most of the shows I watch are on network tv so even if I cut the cable, I don’t know that I would actually cut back on watching things. I’m going to have to do something though 🙂 Anyway, I really like your blog – I’m a new runner too and while its fun to be inspired by people who run marathons all the time, its even better to connect with people who are on my level and dealing with the same issues. Feel better soon!

  11. Pingback: When Happiness Attacks | CarlyBananas

  12. I hate ITBS with a passion. I got a slight case when I started running again and was freaking that I would have to take so much time off and I just got started. I looked up online and found a ton of stretches. I do them loyally before and after every run now and surprisingly I haven’t had a problem since.

  13. Pingback: Happy 1 Year Running Anniversary to Me! | CarlyBananas

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