Diary of an Injured Runner: Discovery Process

Photo by Eric Schmuttenmaer

When I was initially injured on New Year’s Eve I really only thought I’d be down a week, two tops. I thought I just needed to get a knot out of my butt or hammy and I’d be good to go. Even my ART doc thought so. He worked out some nasty knots and sent me on my way.

I came back a week later and though I could open my stride past shuffle again, my whole upper right leg was still tight and pinchy.ย  Hmmm. He checked the muscles and they felt much better. Maybe I’m just a slow healer, so he massaged them out again and this time told me to not run. I did as I was told and the muscles felt good to him so I started to run again. I felt no better.

Back to the doc I went. At this point it was 4 weeks down and I was beginning to become very frustrated. I racked my brain and thought of any other muscles that might be contributing to my problem. My IT band gives me trouble from time to time and my psoas was bugging me, but only when I did ab exercises. I told the doc about these other potential issues and a light bulb went off. “Why didn’t you tell me about your psoas?!” the doc implored.

The doc then told me about a neurological condition called lower crossed syndrome that turns the glutes off when the psoas is tight. (you can read more about this visit and lower crossed syndrome here). He figured because my glutes weren’t firing properly the ancillary muscles like the ones giving me trouble were just overloaded. If I fixed the tight psoas and got the glutes firing again I should be good to go. Woohoo!

Another week off of running. Then I started back up to test things out and sure enough very little progress if any. So at 6 weeks off from training I went back to the doc. I racked my brain before my appointment and thought of a few more things to mention to see if they might illuminate the problem. One of those things was that my toes on my right foot became numb about 20 minutes into my recent runs.

Another light bulb went off. Unfortunately, this revelation did not leave the doc as hopeful that I was a quick fix away from returning to training. Sciatica caused by a bulging disk. Great. I decided at this point I needed to see an orthopedist. So I made an appointment.

Seven weeks off from training and I saw the orthopedist who agreed it was a bulging disk. No running until he says I can. At all. No elliptical either. Bike or swim only.

This week (8 weeks off) I start physical therapy. Then 9 weeks off I go back for my orthopedist follow-up. At that point, if I am not making progress I will go for an mri to see if perhaps the disk is actually herniated (which would not be good!)

The idea of a quick fix now seems so naive now.ย  When it takes 2 months just to get a diagnosis (that isn’t even for sure yet), I will just be happy to get a fix at all!

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I’m praying it’s not a herniated disc! But whatever the issue is, you will rehab it, and come back stronger.