I’ve always been a pretty active person playing various sports on land and water. Thinking back, I first recall the onset of intermittent hip/groin issues around 2000/2001. At this time, I was enjoying a 6 year stint playing field hockey, along with regular tempo runs 45-50 minutes about 2-3 times a week. The odd groin strain, tight hip flexors and rising lower abdominal pain eventually led to a sports medical prognosis and treatment for Osteitis Pubis (OP). At the time, the prescribed 3-6 month recovery program never quite delivered. Then, work commitments with extensive international air travel took over my life and competitive sports went on the back burner, as did regular running. The hip/groin related aggravation disappeared and I never gave it much thought until sometime after my return to running in 2010.
Thanks to Chris McDougall’s “Born to Run”, I began to rediscover “the joy of running”. I gradually built a base of fitness and endurance. After 6-8 months I was happily managing 25-40 kilometers per week. Sure, there were physio visits for occasional niggles and remedial massage along the way. This was all part of a runner’s maintenance program. I gravitated to trail running as opposed to running “the burbs”. Running Trails provided more movement variety and lower impact, which delivered far less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) than the rhythmic impact of road running.
However, in 2012 as training intensity and duration increased, so did the gradual return of the dull aching pain across my groin and hip region. The pain was episodical and generally didn’t impact my day to day well-being outside running or impact my sleep etc. Around this time, in an effort to improve the outlook for my long term running, I sought out a running technique coach who provided drills to work on muscle activation of my (running) kinetic chain. Combined with weekly strength training sessions, this seemed to keep me pain free with training runs up to 18Ks.
In January 2014 I ran my longest race to date – the Two Bays 28 kilometer Trail Run, held in peak Aussie summer – fortunately conditions were kind on the day. Although finishing the event was a huge milestone for me, the rising groin ache and hip pain over the final 10-12 kilometers was not something I relished. In the end, I just put it down to experience on the day, as the pain did not linger for long in the days after.
Throughout 2014 there would be periodical flare ups. This was particularly noticeable as lower abdominal pain during push-ups or holding form in a plank, doing knee raises whilst hanging from an overhead bar etc. On longer training runs (+18 kilometers), when running downhill I felt constrained – like I couldn’t release the hand-break. Striding out on flatter sections with greater intensity resulted in noticeable ache and upper groin strain sensation. Fortunately, (so I figured) none of this discomfort lasted very long after running.
In January 2015, I ran my second Two Bays Trail 28 kilometers. Again with the longer distance, I endured the same issues, this time with greater intensity in hip pain and groin ache. By the finish line I was shattered. I began to think perhaps this was my lot in running? Despite this painful result, in the weeks and months after I (somehow) continued to improve my (Strava) performance in running distances up to 15 kilometers. Besides regular maintenance visits to physios and remedial massage, a tipping point occurred in late August 2015 at the inaugural 20 kilometer Wonderland Trail race in the Grampians National park. During the final gentle 5 kilometers, the onset of the all too familiar hip and groin pain had me running slower and slower. Even with the race director urging me on to sprint the final 200 meters to the finish line, I couldn’t accelerate. I was literally cooked and in a world of pain. This wasn’t right and I knew there was an underlying issue still to be addressed – and it was not going away. It was time to seek out a fresh approach to look for answers.
In October a referral to a new local (runner’s) physio flagged FAI as a line of inquiry. What was this FAI? How did it come about? What did it mean? Talk of key-hole surgery to shave bony growths, even hip replacements in the future? This did not sound like a remediation strategy I wanted to hang any hopes on. A hip X-Ray further qualified the prognosis of my FAI condition. The next step suggested was to see a hip specialist (surgeon). Instead I decided to request a consult with a sought after sports doctor. It was during this time when researching FAI that I first discovered theFAIfix.com website with its wealth of insightful information. There was a lot to take in.
A couple of weeks later I took my X-Rays for my consult with the Sports Doctor, during which I received some very good insights and advice on how to manage my training loads etc. But ultimately it was a sobering if not deflating outlook on what could occur to my hips in the years ahead.
With the Sports Doctors report I returned to my running physio. I was also defiantly armed with information from theFAIfix.com. We discussed the TSR (Tissue work, Stretching, and Reactivation) approach, which was in stark contrast to the general “play-book response” using surgery to address this hip condition. I knew what my preference was going to be. My physio did his due diligence on theFAIfix.com site. I would sign up for the program and my physio would be on-board to monitor my progress. Hopefully it would be a win-win, as his knowledge would grow through my progress.
I commenced that program in late November – this gave me a 6 week rehab window to prepare for my third Two Bays 28 kilometers in January 2016.
The TSR (Tissue work, Stretching, and Reactivation) program is very well thought out. I already had access to resistance bands, foam rollers, massage balls etc. The instructional videos are essential for technique management and tweaking for improved results. For me performing the tissue work then the related stretch began to provide solid release. The reactivation exercises offer many challenges – guaranteed to make you sweat. These also deliver as the muscle system mobility improves.
Is it easy? Not necessarily. Is it hard? It’s as hard as you want to make it. What can be challenging is committing to 40-70 minutes to rehab daily. (Ain’t that always the way?) Initially I managed 5-6 nights a week for 4 weeks and continued on with 4-5 sessions weekly. Program changes are applied to suit individual requirements. And of course Shane and Matt are always willing to provide feedback on email as necessary – even if you’re way Down Under.
So what happened at the 2016 Two Bays 28 kilometer race? I ran the race – I was faster than 2015, not quite as fast as 2014, and I finished pain free for the first time! I was so stoked!
Since then, despite falling off the TSR (Tissue work, Stretching, and Reactivation) wagon (a little) during January to February and being a little underdone, I recently finished another local notorious trail run – the 22 kilometer Roller Coaster Run, with 1100 meters climbing AND NO PAIN!
With relief from FAI pain, life is definitely not sucking so much anymore.
Postscript: I write this testimonial with some caution, as I am conscious that everybody has a unique condition to address and manage. From what I can tell, my prognosis is nowhere as extreme and debilitating as some cases reviewed on theFAIfix.com. However, like many things in life, persistence, doing the work with the right guidance and technique can deliver positive results. Time scales may differ, but with the TSR program you can find a way to improve your FAI condition.
After my progress I feel it is my duty to spread the word about theFAIfix.com. I can assure Matt and Shane that people in my network are taking note; this includes athletes, physios and doctors.