A Pain in the Butt

pain in the butt

This week I’ve seen much better improvements with my butt, hips, hamstring and everything else but instead of listing every muscle group I’ll just refer to my leg.  Instead of being stubborn I went to get some to look at it.  It turns, it was nothing that I had originally thought.  While I’m not better, I do have a formal answer.  I used fancy paint and filled in (yellow and blue) the parts of this diagram that are the problems.  (I drew in the blue for the piriformis muscle since it was wasn’t there).

hollie injured chart

In Cliff notes: My piraformis had a few adhesions which caused my adductor muscles to become strained.  Along with that my psoas muscle was extremely tight.  The chiropractor said she hadn’t seen one that tight ever.  (I guess that explains why I couldn’t walk).  Both the psoas and the piriformis being so tight  caused my hips to be knocked out of alignment.

The Longer Version: 

The most important is that I have an answer to why I’m in pain.  I’m glad I got it looked at because I would have continued to think it was my hamstring. Most runners who strain their adductor muscle do so by going to the track and starting speed work. I didn’t do either of these things.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that I might have strained it about 4 weeks ago when I did the Feel the Love 5k.  I distinctly remember that race having a lot of turns (like a track). Since I began tapering the day after, I didn’t feel the effect as if I was running high mileage.  It had began to heal but when I ran the marathon, it obviously restrained and made it much worse (enough that it was hurt when I finished).  There is nothing I can do about it now but hopefully promote healing.

The next issue is my psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is tight and knotted.  This is where the root of my problems stem with my hip.  Someone told me that you don’t know you have a psoas muscle until it begins to hurt.  I think this is 100% true and it took me from running normally to wishing I could lay down. The muscle is so deep the only way to address the tightness is through ART, trigger point or dry needling. It appears as if this has been tight for a while now.  That could be from improper stretching of the hip flexors and psoas. During the marathon I pushed through a threshold and the muscle became too tight to stabilize my pelvis which is why my hips became tight.

But wait…there’s more!

Since my psoas muscle was so tight, it pulled my hip forward. My pelvis, sacrum and hips are noticeably crooked (to the chiro…I look fine In my opinion). That’s a matter of the chiro realigning them and loosening up my psoas. If my psoas is still tight, my hips will just return to be crooked.  That was the easiest part and I feel a lot better (not 100% but noticeably better).

Finally (the injury gift that keeps giving):
My piriformis (butt muscle) has multiple adhesions which is causing everything to also tighten up.

Long story short, half of my butt, hip and upper leg muscles are tight causing my pelvis to tilt forward. It doesn’t sound like it was caused by the marathon but has been building for a long time. The marathon caused it all to manifest into an injury.

The problem with most of these issues is that they will not get better with just resting. There are a lot of tight muscles, knots and adhesions that have to be taken care of. Rest (as my chiro put it) will just allow my muscles to fester but not solve the problem. They won’t feel better until the problems are solved.

Since we talked on Tuesday I have gotten a few more things done as far as recovery goes:

  • Deep Tissue Massage (this is number 2)
  • Stretching my adductor muscles 2-3 times a day as well as foam rolling that targeted area.

How did this happen?

Honestly I don’t exactly know.   I didn’t up my mileage quickly and I stretched, foam rolled and rested when appropriate.  I think it was a combination of running the Feel the Love 5k during a high mileage week as well as running a lot of the same routes which caused me to favor my hip.  I didn’t realize it was bad (because I wasn’t in pain) until I reached a threshold of no return.

Running Plans:

I gave myself two weeks before attempting a run.  I’ve run twice now and both runs have felt decent.  I am still sore but I also haven’t run in two weeks.  I know the deep tissue massage and chiro appointments have been working because I’m beginning to feel half way decent again.  I still have quite a few knots to get worked out but I am beginning to loosen up.

All of this rambling makes my issues sound a lot more severe than they are.  I can walk normally and it’s not hindering my day to day life.  I slowly run but the thought of running fast right now does not sound pleasant.

Questions for you:

Have you ever dealt with any of these issues?

How was your weekend? 


  1. This is pretty much exactly what I am dealing with, and my PT explained that when the piriformis is tight (which can inhibit the glutes from working properly) the front leg muscles including adductor and psoas need to work harder to pull the leg through during each stride Seems to make sense, especially since I notice that my glutes don’t seem to be working properly when all this is going on- especially when my SI joint is out. I have been in PT for about 5 weeks now and in the beginning I was running on the alter-g but I think it will still aggravating my adductor, so Ive stopped that and focused on deep tissue work, strengthening, and stretching. Every time I go to PT I am out of alignment so its obvious that something still is not right. It’s definitely frustrating but its really good that you figured this out so quickly because it took me months to get a straight answer!

  2. My hips are out of alignment for the SAME reason, so I understand how this muscle is overlooked in most cases. I remember one of my massage therapists pressing down on my good side (no discomfort), then pressing on my bad side and I almost jumped off the table. Did I feel it otherwise? Nope. So, I’m glad you got it looked at to atleast get things to work on!

  3. I’m glad you have some answers! Hopefully your leg gets better soon! I strained my abductor muscle in late October 2013. It was completely my fault because I ellipticalled like crazy during my stress fractures. Wearing a boot on one foot and a tennis shoe on the other caused major imbalances which lead to the strain. I can’t even count how many times my pelvis has been tilted. I still have to do daily pt exercises to keep it aligned.

  4. It’s amazing how one off thing can affect everything else and trickle down. Until you have an injury or some discomfort, you never realize all the little intricacies. I hope you continue to feel better and can find a way to keep this from coming back again!

  5. I thought I’d had every hip issue in the book (my scoliosis creates an anterior pelvic tilt that sadly can’t be rectified, so I permanently have various things pulling on one another and out of alignment in that region) but the adductor problem you have is a new one even on me. It sounds as though you have a great rehab strategy in place though, and I hope everything sorts itself out for you as quickly as possible.

  6. Uuuuuuggghhh, Hollie, I’m so sorry!!! BUT…so glad you are on your way to recovery and its nothing too severe, meaning no (dare i say) fractures or pulled muscles. Sounds like you have a solid plan in place. Good luck with rehab! I agree that active recovery..stretching and massage are your best tools for rehab. Good luck!

  7. I have weird hip issues too. They don’t bother me when I’m running, but after I’m done and cooled down, it gets so tight that I can barely lift my leg. The more I move, the better it feels. I hope the massages and chiro appointments help you get better quickly! You should share the stretches you are doing, I’m always looking for hip/butt stretches!

  8. Yes, absolutely. Since tearing an SI tendon about 15 years ago, my body has overcompensated in a variety of ways over the years– all of which led me to the exact same state of affairs. I can’t say enough good things about my massage therapist and my pilates trainer. What they do, and what they’ve taught me, are the reasons I’m functional and can run at all. I suspect that if I was more consistent with my yoga, that would help too.

    One other tip: Watch out for sitting! My desk job made the psoas problems so much worse until I got a standing desk!

    Hang in there – it does get better, and with regular “preventive” MT and PT-type movement, you can keep it at bay.

    1. That’s interesting and thank you for sharing. I actually do some preventive things (because my plantar fascia is an issue for me!). Luckily I don’t have a desk job which is good for me 🙂

  9. We are leg injury twinsies! My hip flexors in my right leg are so tight that it’s pulling that side of my pelvis down, in turn creating a whole bunch of problems. I go to a chiro for adjustments, but he doesn’t work on my muscles. That is seriously awesome that yours does. Let’s get through this!

  10. HI – I had something similar and sitting and rolling on a baseball helped a ton. I would do a little a night and then one night something “freed” up and the adhesion completely cleared. Hope you’re all better soon!

  11. Haha (not really, injuries are never funny) It’s never a goo thing when a doctor tells you, “You have the most XYZ I’ve ever seen.”

    That’s interesting about your psoas. Did they give you any stretches or anything people can proactively do to keep it from becoming tight aside from needling and ART?

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