The Wheel of Running Misfortune: greater trochanteric bursitis

Though very windy, yesterday was a beautiful early-spring day. Sunny, temperatures in the seventies — it was the type of day you want to spend outside after a long winter mostly cooped up indoors. Minus the wind, it would have been a great day to go for a run.

However, I was stuck inside, enviously watching through the window those who were running outside, determined to stretch and ice away my latest overuse injury.

Yep, it’s time once again to spin the WHEEL…OF…RUNNING…MISFORTUNE!

Which injury did the wheel spin to this time? Greater trochanteric bursitis.

That’s what my doctor thinks it is. What is it? It is the inflammation of the trochanteric bursa. Per Wikipedia:

This bursa is at the top, outer side of the femur, between the insertion of the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles into the greater trochanter of the femur and the femoral shaft. It has the function, in common with other bursae, of working as a shock absorber and as a lubricant for the movement of the muscles adjacent to it.

Occasionally, this bursa can become inflamed and clinically painful and tender.

When my doctor poked and prodded the greater trochanter — that bony protrusion on ones hip — on my left side, he asked if it was tender. “Yeee-ah!” I said as I clinched my fists. He said it could resolve itself after one week. It didn’t; it bothered me throughout March. I have not run or worked out in one month and it is driving me mad.

[Sigh.] Trochanteric bursitis is yet another injury I have incurred because I run and workout too much and rest too little. And because I probably don’t stretch my IT bands enough. I had not stretched them for a long time and was beginning to wonder if they would give me problems. Well, one is.

Interestingly, my dad developed the same condition a few weeks before I did. I have no clue how he got it. He doesn’t run, but he also does not stretch.

Slowly but surely, I think it is getting better. However, a few weeks ago it was unbearable. At 4 a.m. one morning while I was in San Diego, it took me 10 minutes to get out of bed. The pain that surged through my hip and leg at every movement was the second worst I have ever felt in my life. Eventually, through painful trial and error, I was able to sit up, stand, and start walking. There was no way I was going back to bed and do it all over again a few hours later, so I stayed up and worked, a couple Advil capsules in my stomach and an ice pack locked to my left hip. Thankfully, I never experienced another morning that awful, and things improved greatly throughout my time away. But it is still affecting me and it is time to get rid of it. I think I can only endure another week of inactivity and enviously watching other people enjoy the wonders of running.

Though I love running, it is probably time I cut back. I don’t run that much, but I probably run more than I should for the sake of running for fitness. I’m not training for anything (despite my New Year’s resolution to run a 10k, which I forgot about until looking at the list of resolutions taped to my calendar) so there is no need to run four, five, or six miles at a time just to do it. Plus, I need to take more days off and perhaps focus more time and energy on weight training (also on my list of resolutions, though I did not forget about those). Overuse injuries are also a symptom of weak leg muscles, or groups of muscles with imbalanced strength, so my legs still need a lot of work. Maybe I should take a running class since I never learned how to run properly. Perhaps I should not run for a while — again. Perhaps I should stop running and then take a class. Regardless, it is time to listen to my body and not overdo it.

As much advice as there is about running and weight training, I have yet to read anything about balancing the two. Is it okay to run one day and lift the next? (Apparently not, since that’s what I have been doing.) I have read about running and lifting on the same day, but how often is that recommended? Can one do that all the time with a day’s rest in between? Overall, it seems like the people who lift don’t run much. They probably warm up on a treadmill but don’t do much distance running. I am apparently a masochist who wants to do both — and whose body hates him for it.

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