Category Archives: Running

Acupuncture

I struggled with chronic hip pain for months without any relief. I tried stretches, heat, cold, massage, chiropractic care. All of those things helped a little, but nothing solved my problem. I stopped running hills and then stopped running altogether. I cut back on my dance classes and tried writing standing up, but I still had pain.

That’s when my doctor suggested that I try acupuncture. It’s covered by my medical insurance and several friends have had great experiences with it. Could it work for me?

I like to have at least a vague idea what medical treatments do before I try them. There are theories about acupuncture, but when I researched it, I couldn’t find a scientific explanation of how it works. (This could simply mean that I didn’t know where to look.) Generations of people have found relief with acupuncture, though, and there are few side effects, so I was encouraged to try it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at my first appointment. I’d heard that the needles are so small you can barely feel them and I was hopeful that would be true. I’m used to getting blood drawn, so I don’t mind some discomfort, but I get woozy when I see a needle sticking into my vein and I always have to look away.

During my acupuncture treatment, I was on my back on a table, so I couldn’t see a thing but the ceiling. If my head started to spin, at least I knew there was no risk of falling. For most of the needles, I felt a slight poke and then a very light weight on my skin. Two of the needles did hurt, but the acupuncturist took them out and replaced them so I felt only the weight.

Once the needles were positioned, I was left alone to let them work. I wondered how long I would be able to lie still on the table – afraid to move lest a needle shift. I was tense at first, but I concentrated on my breath and managed to relax. Then I felt a tingling sensation throughout my body. When that faded, I fell asleep.

The day after my first appointment, I had much less pain in my hip. Over the weekend, some of the pain came back, but it wasn’t as severe as it had been.

I had two treatments the next week. I experienced the same tingling in my arms, hands, legs and feet, but it wasn’t as intense as the first time. I found it much easier to relax, though, and my hip pain was reduced a little bit more after each treatment. I also got rid of a knot in my neck and an ache in my foot. Unfortunately, the pain in my hip came back after a few days.

The third week, the acupuncturist wanted to add electrical stimulation to my treatment. She attached what looked like miniature jumper cables to two of the needles in my leg. She turned on the machine and I felt like something was tapping on my skin. When she turned up the current, it was more of a vibration. It was distracting, but eventually, I was able to relax and fall asleep. After that treatment, my hip felt significantly better.

Does everyone fall asleep during acupuncture treatments, or am I just lazy?

By the end of the fifth week, I had much less pain in my hip than I’d started with and the relief lasted longer. Then we went on vacation and I skipped a week of treatment. Sitting in the car all day didn’t do great things for my hip, but I wasn’t as achy as I expected to be.

I have two appointments left and I’m hopeful that I’ll find more relief. I wish I could say that my hip pain is resolved, but that might be too much to expect considering the longstanding nature of my problem. Maybe I won’t ever be free of it, but I have experienced significant improvement and for that, I’m grateful.

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Filed under chronic pain, Dance, Running, Travel

A Pain in the Hip

I’ve been struggling with hip pain for months.  At first, I thought I had pulled my left hamstring.  I know that type of injury can take a long time to heal, so I tried to be patient and to baby it.

The pain got worse, not better, so I asked my chiropractor for help. She suspected that my problem might be a tight IT (iliotibial) band, a long band of muscle and connective tissue that runs from the hip down to the knee on the outside of the thigh.  The pain in my hip appeared to be caused by tension on the hamstring at the insertion point and not by an injury.

Evidently, tight IT bands are common to runners.  When we run on canted roads, it’s as if one leg is shorter than the other, which strains the IT band.  Also, when I look at the bottom of my running shoes, the wear pattern shows that I’m still not running evenly on both feet almost five years after surgery on my left foot.

The biggest problem with my hip pain is that, although the tightness in my IT band seems to be caused by running, the activity that hurts the most is sitting.  This makes it a challenge to go to a play or a movie, to sit still at my book group, and most importantly, to write.  My kitchen timer method helps.  I sit for forty-five minutes, then get up and move around before I sit down again.  But I still struggle with an aching hip at the end of the day.

I tried the stretches that my doctor and my chiropractor recommended and they relieved the pain.  🙂  But never for long.  😦 I was hoping for a definitive solution.  I stopped running hills and ran at a slow pace for two months.  No change.  So now I’ve stopped running for the summer while I work at correcting my stride.  Lola is okay with that because as long as she gets to go along, she doesn’t care if we walk or run.

Walking correctly seems like it should be easy, but I have to concentrate on each step to make sure that I push off the balls of my feet the same way on each side.  I start out fine.  Then my mind drifts.  What has Lola found in the bushes?  What am I going to fix for dinner tonight?  What point of view should I use for my new novel?  I’m lost in my head for a few blocks until I remember what I’m supposed to be focusing on.  I’m not giving up, though.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about trying a standing desk.  I put my netbook on a stack of books on the kitchen counter and I think I’ve found a good height.  I’d like a slightly less temporary solution than a cookbook and a dictionary, so I looked for affordable desks online, but haven’t found anything I like.

My husband offered to build a standing desk for me, but that’s not a quick solution.  I know he would build something beautiful, but considering how little time he has for woodworking, it would be months before he finished it.  Besides, maybe taking a break from running will solve my problem. If it doesn’t, I’m considering acupuncture. Have you tried it?  What did you think?

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Filed under dog walking, Running, Writing

Running

I do not like to run, I like to have gone running.

When I was a kid, I loved to run. It felt great to chase around the playground, to pause with my hands braced on my knees when I ran out of breath, to take off again racing flat out when I caught it again. I remember laughing with the sheer pleasure of pumping my legs and arms, the joy of winning the race in gym class.

In college, I ran for exercise.  First thing in the morning, I rolled out of bed, threw on sweatpants and a t-shirt and laced up my running shoes.  The physical effort of my morning jog woke me up and got my day started.  It helped me process my thoughts and work off my stress.  Running kept me grounded and (relatively) sane.

As an adult, running has become a chore I must squeeze into my schedule before or after work.  The older I get, the more I suffer from aching joints and sore muscles.  I still run, usually only twice a week, and often, what gets me out the door is knowing that my dog will be disappointed if I don’t.

I start slow and work up to medium.  No more sprinting for me, no more runner’s high.  But at the end of my three miles, I still get that same feeling of satisfaction.  I did it again.  Maybe my knee hurts or I’m more tired than I’d like to be, but I got the job done.

“I do not like to write, I like to have written.”  – Gloria Steinem

Sitting down to write often feels like running to me.  It’s hard work and sometimes I’d rather go back to bed.  But my writing session is on my calendar and if I don’t write today, I won’t make any progress on my novel.

So I start slow.  I warm up with a prompt from A Writer’s Book of Days.  I set my timer and I put words on the page.  By the time the alarm sounds, I may not have written anything brilliant, but I have made progress.  I get up out of my chair, I stretch and putter for a few minutes, and then if I can, I set the timer and I work some more.

At the end of the day, I have written and it feels good.

What about you?  Have you found a way to write with the joy of a child?  Or do you have to work your way into it like I do?

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Filed under Dogs, Running, Writing