When I first started running, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I just assumed you strapped on some good running shoes and hit the pavement. I learned my lesson the hard way last year when I developed a femoral neck stress fracture in my hip after only a few months of running – treadmill running at that! I had no idea of the importance of nurturing my booty muscles to help prevent some of the most common running injuries… I should have listened to Meghan Trainor all along!
During my 4 months of recovery, I read everything I could get my hands on about how to both expedite the healing process and more importantly, prevent a reoccurrence of the injury. The bottom line is that your body needs more than properly fitted running shoes if you want to remain injury-free… information I wish I had when I got started. I was so focused on finding the best training plan and sourcing the best running shoes that I didn’t consider the physical limitations of my body, I mean it's just running, right? Rookie mistake!
Throughout the healing phase, I focused on identifying what were the potential underlying causes of the injury so that I could address them before I started physical therapy and my eventual return to running. First and foremost, I think that my steady diet of McDonalds, Ben & Jerry’s and soda probably didn’t help in building my bone density over the years, nor did my complete lack of strength training or flexibility.
Over the course of those 4 months I learned far too much about the anatomy of the hip and butt muscles and how when properly conditioned through stretching and strength training could have prevented my injury. Terms such a piriformis muscle (which protects the femoral neck from stress fractures - good to know after the fact), adductor & abductor muscles, hip flexor and IT band were completely foreign to me, let alone how to condition them. Luckily thanks to the Google I found this educational Hip Stretches Exercise Guide.
An immediate change that I implemented while still hobbling around on crutches was to incorporate some vitamin supplements into my diet to aid in strengthening my bones. Now every day for the past year and a half I take a calcium, vitamin D3 and glucosamine/chondroitin supplement. During my research I found a great article on Treating and Preventing Stress Fractures in Runners on competitor.com that was not only informative on how some of these injuries are sustained, but also how to prevent them through targeted exercises.
Now that I am in full-blown half marathon training, I am reminded of the importance of keeping up with pre- and post-run stretching as well as strength training of those important booty muscles as the aches and pains start to creep into my hips and groin during those long run days. Thankfully, I have Meghan Trainor to provide the soundtrack to my booty-busting workouts and remind me that it is All About That Bass!