30 June 2014

Nasty nasty psoas

This guy sits at his desk exactly the way I do. Mouse at the 
ready in right hand with the left gently stroking the chin. 
Thoughtful, intelligent pose don't you think? Years to master. 
I present to you the origins of my groin problem

My running streak now sits at 12 glorious days with just 18 to go to achieve that 30 goal I’d set for myself. And I gotta tell you that all of a sudden, the thought of yet another run tonight just doesn’t bother me at all. Along with the repetitive monotony of distance I’m also running the exact same course day in and day out. Not even the cheek of some dodgy spectator yelling “SCARED OF GETTING LOST FORREST” deters me. You see at this stage I need this familiarity especially as I fight what I thought was a nasty nasty groin injury.

I run four 2.5 km loops near home to achieve the 10 km each night. Heading out I relax as much as possible while trying to adopt the odd form tweak I may have copied from my wife … but don’t tell.  This is also the time I consciously zone in to begin cataloging every ache, pain and niggle. Like clockwork I seem to unravel most nights in the following way - 1 to 2 km tightness presents in my lower left back. This builds and radiates out to the front area of my left hip but at no time does it compromise my stride. At 8 to 10 km the discomfort feels more and more like a stabbing pull which is localized in my groin and at its worst, felt with every step. 

I’ve had a lot of time to think on these runs. Sure, my groin issue is still there. Not really getting any worse which I suppose is good. Could it be that my groin isn’t the cause at all but rather a symptom of something else? Tightness at the front of the hip and lower back early on in my runs should have been a sign. How could I have been so stupid … don’t answer that! So with the groin not improving, I again turned to Google and stumbled across the psoas and the consequences of a tight one or of more relevance a SHORT one. EUREKA, could it be?

The classic Warrior Pose on the right

Apparently there is an absolute epidemic out there of psoas muscle tightness. The number one cause being our beloved cushioned, swivel capable and if you’re important like me tilt actioned office chair with dual armrest. To give the appearance I’m hard at work I need to be seen in it at least 5 to 6 hours a day. Let’s not forget the occasional 3 to 4 hour business trip by Japanese car which always proves a challenge what with my knees acting like earmuffs the whole way! And at the end of a long day making a real difference in the world, who would dare deprive me of one final luxury. That well earned collapse into the softest of sofas built for three. These are indeed the sins of sloth I’ve become accustomed to over many years and all of which I can now confidently blame on … my shortened and lazy left psoas muscle which for a runner is BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD.  

With no time to lose, my groin stretch exercises have been cast aside and been replaced with these absolute gems – the Thomas Stretch, the Kneeling Lunge and my favourite the Warrior Pose. In just a few days I’ve noticed more than a few positives and I’ll take that for now. The shortening of my psoas has no doubt occurred over many years and any fix will take time. But enough of that, even with the rain bucketing down, I have a run to do. Number 13 followed by a few new and improved stretches I’m yet to master.

And how’s that groin of mine you all ask? Well it’s not so nasty anymore thanks.


  1. Consistency, that's what I like!
    Warrior pose looks good...feels pretty good, too. I'll give it a go. How long do you hold it, and/or how many times do you do it?

    1. It's the perfect stretch I can do from time to time at work. I sneak it in at least 3 or 4 times a day when no one is looking and yeah it does feel great. I know I've lost a tone lot of flexibility over the years. The workplace curse of my generation. It’s time to get some of that back starting with the psoas. Might even make me a better runner along the way.

  2. That's good news Forrest. Yes, the repetition is great for monitoring how things are changing from day to day.
    Have just started watching the video (thanks for that). I agree with the 'stable platform' comment, so definitely worth working on core strength and being aware of how your hips are while running. But a 3hr+ (or even 2:40) runner can't run like the leaders because of one thing - basic aerobic fitness (and ability) - they could have the same stride length/cadence of the leaders but would only be fit enough to run a short distance with that form. And I won't tell your wife about any of the form cues you borrow from her.

    1. Out of the blue my run tonight felt so much better. You know running is like a box of chocolates, you never know which ... well you get my drift. Of late I'm really trying to run tall after years of poor posture. I think this change has highlighted that lack of core stability which I also took out of that video. Boy, do those girls fly. Truly amazing when analysed in slow mo. Hadn't thought about your aerobic fitness comment but so true. It's an area I excel at when compared to my wife. Just between you and me.

    2. Mum's the word Mark.
      Yes, you could teach any number of girls to run with similar form - hip extension, stride length, 'spring', but how long could they run with that form? 1k? But if they had the same aerobic engine, developed over many years, they could probably run 32 minute 10ks etc.