Nancy Drew and the Mysterious Pain in the Ass

Truth be told, I skipped Nancy Drew as a kid and went straight for Agatha Christie, but I just can’t imagine Miss Marple embroiled in a running caper.  Our story begins sometime in late July, when I noticed a dull ache along my tailbone after some speed work.  Knowing how much the lower back is engaged when running–particularly running fast–I chalked it up to increased mileage and weakness leaving the body.  The ache continued on and off over the days and weeks, but was quickly overshadowed when the IT band trouble started.  Since pulling out of the race a month ago, I have confined myself to short runs, with a lot of strength training on my hips and glutes to correct the problem.  The odd thing, though, is that the mysterious pain in my ass has been as persistent as ever, despite the rest and weight training.

I’d tried googling to see what I could figure out, but what to google?  It’s too high to be a glute, and too low to be lower back.  I went through the full set of lower limb anatomy flash cards to no avail.  All the muscles in that area ran laterally, and the pain was definitely parallel to my spine.  The only things that seemed to help were rolling on a lacrosse ball and doing butterfly stretches.  My theory was that it was connected to the IT band problem, both literally and figuratively, but I couldn’t find any anatomical evidence.

Saturday I doubled up on a run and some brutal, lunge-heavy strength training, and woke up Sunday with the mystery spot particularly sore.  I had scheduled a massage that afternoon, so I had Kiril of the Magic Elbows do some work on the area.  After our session, he mentioned something about the IT band pulling on the ligaments at the sacrum, and boom–I had my google keywords.  10 minutes later I was reading up on Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and how it can lead to IT band syndrome.   The SI joint is a band of ligaments that attaches the pelvis to the base of the spine, and through bio-mechanical issues, injury, or overuse, it can become inflamed.  The symptoms exactly match up with the problems I’ve been having.  There’s no magic bullet to fix it, but the good news (or the bad news, depending on how you look at it), is that the treatment is in line with what I’ve already been doing.  Just figuring out what’s wrong has made me feel a lot better, though, and hopefully I can direct my energy from here to the source of the problem.

On an unrelated topic, I’ve been experimenting with making some Paleo versions of seasonal latte and coffee treats.  Stay tuned for the results.

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