Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I have an IT band/knee/hip/calf and ankle/underfoot problem -- or, as I described it to Mary and Allen on Monday, a roving problem in my left leg. The leg was my ostensible reason for quitting the Colorado ride 4 weeks ago (the real reason was that it was wet and miserable and I was tired). But it is creating some problem with my running as well -- for example, I skipped my 1/2 marathon on Sunday so as not to aggravate the leg.

I went to a local outfit called Rehab to Racing. This is a husband-and-wife shop that does everything from physical therapy to coaching. The basic workup required a three-hour session including gait analysis, bike fit analysis, a lengthy interview that reminded me of the phenomenal Hugh Laurie TV show "House" ("is there anything else you are not telling us, whether or not you think it is relevant?"), and a range of motion/flexibility/strength exam.

I learned my left leg is markedly -- around 5% by thigh circumference, similarly by calf circumference -- smaller than my right. That's consistent with my recent perception of its being weaker (I've been doing a fair amount of single-leg work in the gym, and too frequently I tip over when in a lunge or similar exercise). It's also a logical result of my Achilles tendon injury last spring. If you assume symmetry before the injury and insufficient recovery time, my right leg will have picked up the lion's share of thousands of miles on the bike and four triathlons over the summer. As the right leg gets stronger relative to the left, even when the left has healed the right will continue to do more of the work. And so on. Consistent with the idea that a weak leg is being asked to keep up with a strong one (and consistent with the pain I'm experiencing), the left leg is much less flexible over a variety of motions.

Mary and Allen at R2R also believe my gait is a tad slow -- 80 strides per minute by their count -- which means a greater load on the leg each foot strike, and my bike position may be a tad compressed, with a 140 degree bend between my back and my thigh at the top of the pedal stroke.

Homework? Stretch. Ice. Train with weights. Warm up and cool down appropriately. Run smart, not long. Supplement with potassium and magnesium. Gone are the days when I can rely on my body's healing itself while I goof off for a few days!

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