Fixing Assymetry – expected pain on underused side?

  • Creator
  • #66796

    hello all
    I do the Cham Fit fits as part of the female uphill athlete training pain and he talks a lot about asymmetries. This is something I have been very aware of since varsity running in my 20s. Back then, I had injured myself in what was thought originally to be a hip stress fracture but instead turned out to be a sacroilliac joint dysfuntion. The cause was pointed out to be different leg lengths – one side definitely getting more pounding than the other, and seemed to coincide with a slight scoliosis. The fix was a wedge for my running shoes and some physio exercises such as putting one foot in a gymnastics band tied to a table leg and extend it backwards. But i never did get seriously back into running afterwards, instead i got into rock climbing and hiking.

    Fast forward 20 years and I have moved onto small scale mountain climbing but wanting to get more serious so I started the UA training plan this year. I have been running hobby wise for the last few years but never very fast or long. However, being around this place has been really inspiring and since i live near the Alps, i would love to be able to run a lot longer than 15 km and with a lot more elevation.

    I had been noticing the past year the following problems: small painful bunion on left foot, sore knee on left leg and hip and back pain on the right. When i say painful, i don’t mean very painful, just noticeable. This is consistent with the injury I had 20 years ago. So i went to a orthoped here in Germany (not sure what they are called in the US but a doctor who specializes in bones and often sports medicine). Since i live in the country, mine doesn’t particularly have a lot of experience with sports medicine, but more deals with overweight seniors, hip replacements, etc. But he did an xray of my foot at least to see that the bunion was not so bad and could be easily corrected with a shoe insert – so got a prescription for those and a referral to the podiatrist.

    Got my inserts, also had a run analysis, and I really think they are helping. I have no foot pain and no knee pain anymore. But i don’t think that the leg differential has been fully solved, the insert seems to be more to help with pronation. And now i have pain on my LEFT side of my back (before it was the right), all along my spine from the middle to the bottom of my tailbone. And again, its not an excrutiating pain – more like muscle spasming or tightening and JUST when i am running. It is gone as soon as I stop.

    Since my ortho doctor has said he doesn’t do a lot of sports medicine, he said it might be helpful to make an appt at a sports clinic in the big city in the future. I will do that, but i want to give the inserts a little bit more time, and i also thought it would be useful to discuss here to fully understand what is happening. I did google and the first thing that came up was, once again sacroilliac joint dysfunction, but it didnt say what i could do to mitigate it.

    1) Is it possible that I only feel this new tightening while running because this side was so under used in the past and is now being activated? And that the tightening might alleviate with time?
    2) If so, how much time should I take to get used to the new inserts before I take the issue further to a more advanced sports clinic?
    3) Are there any other conditioning exercises I could try in the meantime aside from the ones in the Cham Fit series?

    My main issue right now is that I want to ramp up both speed and distance, hence the UA program with the intent to move to a trail running program afterwards to increase volume. Am i just stuck running 10 km forever?

    (maybe useless information: Female, 49 years old, stellar bone density, no other injuries ever, 140 lbs, 5’4, slow runner, good climber)

Posted In: Injury & Rehab

  • Participant
    Pete Dickinson MS,PT on #67948

    There is a lot here, the spine, leg length asymmetries, intolerance of running. My initial thoughts would be to focus on single leg strength for better running tolerance, and an aggressive spine stabilization program to allow for better tolerance of sport activity. You likely need to get a LOT STRONGER if you want to tolerate running better. You can get there for sure. Focus on deadlifts, single leg strength movements (lunge, balance squats, step ups/down etc.).

    Thomas Summer, MD on #67980

    Hi Michelle!

    Lots of information, but still more questions: is the difference in leg length just a functional one (based on your SI joint dysfunction) or a real anatomical problem? If so, how big is the difference? Are you running on the roads or trails? Maybe trails are better because you have more variance in your step length and direction. Where do you live in Germany?
    I agree with Pete about the exercises for getting stronger.


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