When Left Means Right & Knee Means Hip

by Heather

“Hit the stop button. Get off the treadmill. I can’t let you run anymore, you’re gonna get hurt.”

Those words sound horrible, evil, depressing.

But to me, they were magical, beautiful, fantastic.

Those words meant there was something wrong with the way I was running. Seeing something wrong means there’s something to be fixed.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day the orthopedist was going to insist on surgery if I wasn’t running yet.

(I’m not running yet. I only made it to half a mile.)

5 months is a really, really long time when you’re wishing you were running or biking or something. But in the grand scheme of things, 5 months isn’t that long. No way was I letting some doc that saw me for a few minutes every 4 weeks slice my knee open.

So with a deadline impending (and my insurance deductible conveniently met) I searched out other options.

I finally found a guy that was certified in ART- active release technique– which I’ve heard can be quite successful in resolving chronic injuries. The guy sounded good- he had experience, he had advanced certifications, and he was a runner & triathlete. IS a runner & triathlete.

With nothing to lose, I knocked on his door and begged him to fix me.

Bad news: I’m quite messed up.

Good news: It’s likely fixable.


He didn’t say rest and ice and covered it in some pain numbing cream and come back and expect it to be magically better.

He said it was going to take time, a lot of hard work, and some more pain before I was up and running again. But he didn’t say if I was running again. Smile

My head was flooded with so much information I can hardly remember it all, but the gist of it is this:

My left IT band is hurting because my right side is rotating too much when I run. It sounds backwards, but because of the rotation, extra stress is being put on my left IT band and my left leg is working much harder than it should be. My joints are super mobile, but extremely inflexible…aka a bad combo.

(He was convinced from watching me run that I’d had an injury to my right hip in the past. After insisting I never did, and him asking over & over, “are you sure?” I suddenly flashed back to my high school days were I limped and hobbled around with tendinitis in my right hip from dancing.)

I was amazed- the doc just looked at me standing in front of him and pretty much knew right away what he thought the problem was. He did a few more tests- balancing, squatting, rotating, etc and watched me run on the treadmill.

Not one x-ray. No MRI. No poking and prodding. Problem found. Genius. (Or super quack.)

So now starts more therapy, more exercises, more doctor’s appointments. But this time the exercises make so much more sense to me. They’re functional. I can feel how hard they are on the right instead of the left.

And me explaining all that probably took longer than it did for him to diagnose me.

Have you ever tried alternative therapies? What was your experience like?

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt November 4, 2010 at 6:48 am
I once went for an ART appointment and he solved my injury in one visit. AMAZING. Matt Just blogged...Cumin Crusted Barramundi with Maple Mashed Butternut Squash
Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman November 4, 2010 at 8:13 am
That's awesome! Congrats! Orthos are so eager to do surgery, aren't they? Mine wanted to, too, just to look around. Glad you found something less invasive. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman Just blogged...I Might Be Cranky…
Anne November 4, 2010 at 8:48 am
I've been reading your blog for a while (and I LOVE it, btw), but have never commented. Today, I just had to, because that is just too awesome!! So glad that there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel for you! I am a new runner (Started with C25K in January), and I can't imagine what it would be like not to be able to run! Good luck with the new doc. I think you have just found your new best friend!!
Heather @ Side of Sneakers November 8, 2010 at 4:38 am
Thanks! I think so too :) Good luck with the running!!!
Alex @ I Eat Asphalt November 4, 2010 at 9:50 am
I am thrilled that you have an answer and possible therapy other than surgery! I am also terrified that he brought up a hip injury... maybe I should drive down an make an appointment with this guy before my problems get worse.
Teacherwoman November 4, 2010 at 10:30 am
i have gone to two different orthopeodics in the past 2 years and even though my running and such us much better (which I thank Pilates and BODYPUMP class for) I know that something is still off. I would love to see an ART dude. Sounds like your outlook is good and promising. That's wonderful! Teacherwoman Just blogged...30 Days of Thanks Day 4
Heather @ Side of Sneakers November 8, 2010 at 4:41 am
Ugh 2 years? That's rough. I'd definitely get somebody check it out again, you never know what they might say! Heather @ Side of Sneakers Just blogged...Raw Food- Street Food- Good Food
Karyn November 4, 2010 at 11:04 am
so glad to hear that it's highly likely fixable. that's like christmas morning news :) i keep hearing such great things about ART. I should look for it in my area Karyn Just blogged...Previously On MM…October 2010
Meg @ Be Fit Be Full November 4, 2010 at 11:23 am
I'm pretty sure I have the same problem as you. Left IT problems from right side pelvis misalignment. Glad to hear you finally learned the root of the problem and it's fixable! Just a warning that pregnancy causes more pain and problems when you have misalignment issues. Fun fun! And I have tried alternative therapies before when I had sciatica issues. Just a few gentle touches in my problem areas a few times a week and I was good as new!
Heather @ Side of Sneakers November 8, 2010 at 4:42 am
Injury twins!! Ugh I've heard pregnancy is horrible for IT issues...hope you're doing ok! Heather @ Side of Sneakers Just blogged...Raw Food- Street Food- Good Food
Lisa November 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm
I tried acupuncture when I injured my IT Band. It was not successful. Lisa Just blogged...Zombies Invade Portland!
Nichole November 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm
You can hear the excitement in your voice. This post made my day. It's such a blessing to hear you are doing great. That guy sounds amazing! I am so thrilled you were open to new things! Nichole Just blogged...Rules of the Run
Emily November 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm
I'm so impressed with your positive attitude! It's refreshing to hear. You're right, 5 months is NOT that long in the grand scheme of things and it's much more important to actually get fixed. This guy sounds great, I would have jumped up and hugged him if he said so many things that just clicked. Emily Just blogged...Three Things Thursday
Erika MC November 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm
That's awesome! It's amazing what doctors do and don't know. I'm so glad you're on the right path to fixing things.
Kaitlin With Honey November 4, 2010 at 4:10 pm
This is incredible. I want to find a doctor like that. Kaitlin With Honey Just blogged...Family Night
Bekah @ runtrackmind.com November 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm
I do hope it works for you. I love ART. Well maybe love is a strong word. The treatment itself can be very painful but the results are fabulous. I have had great results with both ART and chiropractic and believe that by using these treatments I can run virtually pain free now. Good luck with your treatments. Bekah @ runtrackmind.com Just blogged...Oh My Head!
Heather November 8, 2010 at 4:44 am
That's awesome! I love success stories :) Heather Just blogged...Raw Food- Street Food- Good Food
Ashlee November 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm
Lew and I just made our fist stop on the way to the foodbuzz festival. We dropped our twins off at the grandparents and are now on the way to Nashville fly out in the morning. We look forward to meeting you in San Fransisco. Ashlee @ashandlewplus2 Ashlee Just blogged...Turkey Chili
Heather November 8, 2010 at 4:45 am
Aww I just saw your comment and I'm excited that I got to meet you both!! Hope your time away from the little ones went ok and that you have a safe trip home!!
Cynthia Crowsen November 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm
Yeah for answers. Body imbalances can cause so many problems. That's what is happening with my hip and calf now. I'm so happy you have some answers even if it means lots of work. You WILL be running again!!!
Liz November 5, 2010 at 6:51 am
Hi Heather, I've been meaning to leave you a comment for ages as I found your blog during that Marie Claire controversy and I really love it. I've been blogging away here for several years and always looking to make new bloggy connections. I'm an exercise phys and have had similar complaints over the years - what your ART guy is saying is spot on - and it's likely to be due to sacroiliac joint dysfunction - your right hip seems to like rotating forwards and this will be due to hypermobility. Once the worst is over, focus on strengthening your glutes and deep core - pilates has been of huge benefit and I've had the issue for a good ten years. PS I can run and run well, but have to stop when it flares up. Best of luck, Liz N
Heather November 8, 2010 at 4:49 am
Hey Liz!! I'm glad to hear it sounds like what he's saying makes sense to someone that actually knows what she's talking about :) I have to ask him again exactly what everything he thought was going on was- I got so excited I think I forgot most of the technical stuff. I LOVE Pilates- I'm so excited to get back to it once I get cleared ;)
Theresa @ActiveEggplant November 5, 2010 at 10:57 am
Yay! I love when doctors can just look at you and see what's going on! I sort of had that happen with my back a couple years ago and it's SO much better now, without any drugs or surgeries - just lots of exercises and stretches. Hopefully you'll be able to work through this and be back on the road in no time! Theresa @ActiveEggplant Just blogged...I Spoke Too Soon
kate November 5, 2010 at 11:33 am
Hooray! Sounds like youll be back in action in no time! Have a blast in CA this weekend...it doesnt seem right that we arent having a HLS reunion :(
Heather November 8, 2010 at 4:49 am
I know, it makes me WAY sad.
Sarah for Real November 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm
Congrats! I love it when you find the right doc! I've had great success with alternative therapy, mainly chiropractic and with a naturopath. It's so important to get at the cause of pain instead of just treating the symptoms.
sarah (the SHU box) November 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm
YES!! i did art for my hip and it worked really well for me!! this sounds so promising! sarah (the SHU box) Just blogged...friday flow

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