When this last troubled me (mid last year), I could not resolve it, only temporarily dampen the symptoms with yoga poses and physical manipulation of the area. Today, I did attack the area with some immediate trigger point therapy using a hockey ball but this was just to prepare the runway for the real work: figuring out what caused my right hip flexors to become overactive. Truth be told, I was excited like a child about this little setback because it gave me the chance to figure out a more complicated puzzle than usual.
Activating the inner Sherlock
I began with deduction: trying to run the theory learned from Tony against the symptom I was experiencing. I knew that an overactive hip flexors generally means underactive hip extensors (the antagonist muscle group). Since the hamstrings mainly flex the knee, I thought the likely under-active muscles would be one of the two gluteal muscles (the muscles of your rear!). To test it I did “the rocker” to see if I could spot whether my gluteal muscles were not firing. They seemed fine and my “Rocker” was decent, so I ruled this out as the main problem.
Next, I knew that the hip often becomes the victim of the shock absorbers in the lower leg not working correctly. This was a likely source of the problem for two reasons:
1. I tend not to bend my knees enough, and this could mean some of the 50% shock absorption from the knee transfers into my hip
2. The rehabilitation of my big toe joint on my left foot is taking longer than on the left foot and on video footage my right foot lands slightly worse than the left. I could therefore be losing some of the 50% shock absorption from foot and ankle and/or cause rotational forces in the right leg.
Finally, I knew that a poor landing in general could be the issue which means I have to look at my posture. The recent week has featured an unusual amount of standing for me, and then a few days of heavy sitting and lying. Right enough it did seem somewhat deteriorated.
Casting a wide net
I felt at this stage there was no reason to obsess about any on reason but rather I would do the opposite of what I did 18 months ago – I would bombard the area with movement until it began functioning. No rest and anti-inflammatories for me.
The first evening progress was minor, but encouraging. This evening I hit the body with a full barrage of challenges, using my weighted bar extensively to enforce good posture as well as the new drills for my thoracic spine I got during Tony’s last visit. I did loads of toe drills and notice how much more flexible my left toe still is compared to the big toe on my right foot. Still they are practically functional hands compared to the atrophied lumps I had last November. I progressed to doing squat jumps from two Reebok steps with my 5kg bar and having some really well executed landings. Morale began to soar as all pain began to dissipate.
30 minutes later I was running at 16kph on the treadmill and the entire body felt reborn. I recorded myself and reviewed the video. Some imperfections to look at tomorrow but overall running form looked hugely encouraging. I’ll post some footage tomorrow for the curious.
As I hit the lights, I must say there is something extremely intoxicating about possessing the rudimentary skills to help heal one’s own body.