The Whole Body Fix
Chronically injured and disheartened, a Runner's World editor sought holistic help from a team of therapists. Her diagnosis (sleeping glutes?) and hard-won lessons (master the clamshell!) can help you, too, stay healthy, happy, and on the road.
By Katie McDonald Neitz
I'm lying facedown on an exam table at a state-of-the-art running clinic in New York City, about to perform a basic exercise for professional analysis. "Okay, Katie, I'd like you to lift your right leg in the air, using your glutes," says Colleen Brough, P.T., M.S., the physical therapist who's there to check my strength and form. No problem, I think. She places her hand on my right hamstring--my achy, troublesome one--as I lift and then lower my leg back down to the table with minimal effort and an attitude of That's all? "You contracted your hamstring as well as your back," Brough says gently. "Try again, but this time, power the move with your glutes by squeezing your butt before and while doing the lift." Okay, got it. Simple enough. But it isn't. Impossible, actually. I lie there motionless, slowly coming to the realization that clenching your face doesn't help you clench your butt cheeks. Forget lifting the leg. I am entirely unable to activate my glutes, a fact Brough describes with one cruel but apt word: "Astonishing."
What might be even more astonishing is that I'm Runner's World's Mind+Body editor. When a person's job requires talking with top sports-medicine docs and physical therapists to provide injury prevention and treatment advice for runners, you might assume said person would be a reflection of her work: a happy, muscle-balanced, injury-free runner. Instead, I've been struggling with the same strained hamstring for six years. I've tried every technique recommended in these pages: massages, Active Release Technique, Graston Technique, and chiropractic treatment. And everything has made me feel better--temporarily. My improvements are always short-lived.
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