The 7mm Experiment And The Increase In Abduction

I’ve been waging war with my Illotibial Band on and off for nearly 6 years now. It’s been a hard fought series of battles where I only won by the skin of my teeth on occassion, but mainly had loss after loss. Back when I was oriognally sidelined with Illlotibial Band Syndrome back in the summer of 2012, I had no idea what was wrong. The outside of left knee became so inflammed over the course of a week that I could NOT run without excruciating pain and the feeling of my knee contantly about to give out. I dropped from 85 miles a week to virtually 0 instantly.
Nearly 9 months later, after hundreds of hours of rolling the outside of leg with a foam roller on top of weighted leg lifting exersizes, I finally got a corticosteroid injection in the outside of both knees (both were now chronically in pain at all hours of the day and night). Let me tell you, there are few things more frightening for a runner than a needle going what seems like 2 inches into a knee joint. A few weeks later the pain was gone, but ever since then I’ve had times that it’s flamed up again for short periods, as well as phantom pain that creeps into my hips on occasion.
I’ve never been able to go over 55 miles a week since then without some kind of injury – crippling for a 5k-10k specialist. I’ve only run near my PR of 14:33 on the track once (in the only track 5k I’ve run since then) when I ran 14:37 off of only 6 weeks of training at 50% of my previous mileage. When I ran that 14:37, I aggravated my tender left calf and walked away with a season-ending strain.
The point is that I’ve had all kinds of nagging pains in my left leg since my first year of college in 2011-2012, and a lot of them can be linked to my I T Band, a thick strand of fascial tissue that runs the length of the femur, located on the outside of the leg. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my issue may have something to do with the fact that I wear a 7mm heel lift in my left shoe to offset my leg length differencial. My left leg is 7mm shorter than my right leg (if you include my very slight scoliosis, there is a 9mm difference). All of the research I’ve been doing is pointing to the fact that there is no consensus that heel lifts help prevent injuries, and in some cases they seem to cause more problems than solutions in athletes.
I never ran in a heel lift until midway through my freshman year in college, despite knowing there was a difference in my leg lengths much earlier. So I took out my 7mm heel lift 3 days ago and followed that with a lot of stretching.   Hopefully my legs can realign and I may see some relief over time. I have nothing to lose. That is my 7mm experiment. So far I’ve had no issues besides some initial tightness in my left shin.
Oh and I’m also doing tons of abduction workouts (hip drops, clams, side-laying leg lifts, etc) to strengthen my hips.  For context, I’m currently running roughly 22 miles a week over 6 days and I haven’t changed my mileage at all during this experiment. We will see if this one simple trick works fam. Thanks for reading.


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