So, I am enlisting your help, dear readers, to figure out what causes my left leg to tighten up about 30-40 minutes into each and every run. I have been treating my IT band (stretching, rolling, icing, time off from running, strength training, acupuncture, active release therapy) for the last month and am now quite sure that, while the pain I feel is coming in part from an irritated IT band, this is a symptom and not the cause. I am looking for the root cause here, so I can treat it and get back to running longer than 40 minutes at a time.
During my run, a typical progression goes something like this:
- the first 3 miles feel awesome;
- some tension just above and to the outside of my kneecap appears or the lower part of the outside of my leg tightens up;
- that tension goes away, and I might feel some pulling or tightness below my kneecap;
- the outside of my upper leg eventually starts to feel a little weak or achy and;
- finally, I get a fairly persistent ache in the outside of my kneecap where the IT band rubs over the end of the femur. Sometimes this is felt behind my knee and even into my calf. This comes and goes later in the run and does not become worse the longer I run beyond 45 minutes, though I haven't done too many runs over 45 minutes. Oddly enough, when I put direct pressure on the point where I feel this tightness, it does not hurt at all. During the latter parts of many runs, I have felt as though my lower left leg is a peg leg, with no ability to push off at all.
I was traveling for work last week and had to run on the treadmill in the hotel gym. I had my iPhone with me and decided to see if I could get some video footage of myself running. It actually turned out pretty well. I have been carefully analyzing these videos, and I see lots of things wrong with my form, of course. But what I really want to know is if any of you see clues that may indicate what is causing this leg tightness. I'm hoping something will jump out at one of you and that you will add your diagnosis in the comment section below. The quality needed to be lowered so that it wouldn't take forever for you to download, but I think you can still make out the important things. I left the sound unedited so you can hear my feet thudding on the treadmill in a Godzilla versus Mothra sort of way.
If you have trouble viewing the embedded video here, I've also loaded it on YouTube. I will say that I was treated after my morning run today (I won't disclose what part of me was treated since that might give something away) and am hopeful that the adjustment will help. Fire away!