Muscle Strain? Remember, No Muscle Is An Island!

Muscle Strain As An Opportunity To Learn

It’s Also A Pain In The A**!

muscle strain: gluteus minimus, iliacus, psoas

Good old hip pain. I did it to myself, by activating an old injury – I broke the 10% rule! From: Howard J Luks

Sometimes You Need A Good Physical Therapist

muscle strain muscles of the pelvis lateral view

There’s lots of anatomy on the web, and it’s worth studying. But go to an expert if you are not sure what you’re doing!!! From: 

Muscle strain? It’s part of life, especially as an older endurance athlete who doesn’t know his limitations! This is why I keep my injury map up to date.

I recently broke the 10% rule, preparing for a local 10-mile race. It finishes with a 1-mile hill climb. Yep! I overdid it. I was on a treadmill, running at a 12-minute pace, with a 6% incline. No big deal, right? My plan was to work up to 15 minutes. My estimated time for the actual hill, after 9 miles on the road.

All was well at 10 minutes x 6% grade.

So, what did I do?

I bumped it up to 15-minutes. Yes! I increased the load by 50%! Might be OK when you’re 18, but not when you’re 73!

The next day I could hardly walk. A muscle strain in my left hip. My iliacus was on fire, and other things were happening in the background. What were those other things? And why this problem after a simple 15-minute run?

What do I do?

muscle strains gluteus minimus iliacus psoas

Applying the OQS Method to body movement as one ages. A fascinating topic. Book is with my editors, right now.

I apply my OQS MethodObserve, Question, Solve.

When this kind of thing happens, which is increasingly rare, I go through passive then active recovery. Moving slowly from one to the other. I also watch what is going on.

I found that I could release the tight iliacus with my thumb.

I also noticed that I had an even better response when I released the gluteus minimus, while there was little response to releasing my psoas muscle.

Muscles talk to each other. That’s how they coordinate their complex functions. If you lift your left knee as you turn left, you need coordination between the hip flexors, rotators, abductors, and many more. They form an integrated team. This is why I explored the pain, which would spread, if I didn’t stop moving – from iliacus->gluteus minimus->psoas->pyriformis->biceps femoris->lateral head of the gastrocnemius->who knows where; by which time I was forced to stop!

BEWARE: Muscles also come to each others aid – this is called guarding, or chronic psychosomatic tension. It can cause big trouble!

A quick look at my injury map reminded me of my hip subluxation, in 2013, and the subsequent battles with left hip tightness. I remembered that this led, eventually, to dry needling (OUCH!) of my spasmed gluteus minimus. It worked, when followed up by a series of exercises to strengthen my hip flexors and abductors. Specifically, gluteus minimus, iliacuspsoas! Plus a bunch of one-leg balance exercises!

I started the exercises that my Physical Therapist had prescribed all those years ago:


muscle strain

“Hip Abduction Side Lying (right leg)” I start with a bent knee, for a gentler approach, until the pain subsides. From: PhysioAdvisor

Underneath tightness, lies weakness!

muscle strains: FitOldDog's Ironman Coach, AIMP Ironman Coaching, Chris Hauth,

A gifted coach: Chris Hauth taught me many things, one of which was to keep pushing during the race. His coaching got me to the Boston Marathon, in 2009.

The muscle strain is fading. Walking is slowly progressing into running.

I had to pull out of the recent 10-miler, due to pure stupidity – “No fool, like an old fool!”

I substituted a more reasonable goal.

The Charlotte Marathon, in November.

I have fond memories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, at this race, in 2008. With the help of a great Ironman coach, Chris Hauth!

No Ironman races for me, until next year, when I turn 75! Better chance of qualifying for Kona!

Life is good, and it’s good to have a plan!



  1. Boy this is truth. I can’t sit in a 14 yr old beautiful leather sofa without risking back spasms. Muscle guarding is real! So, time to get a new one. And a sore ankle tendon from wearing old garden shoes. Already tossed them out. Yes, wearing the Voxx socks, taped the sore area, stretching and massaging the leg.

  2. Russ Meekings says

    If only I knew nothing of what you are talking about!
    On the mend after a very similar experience and I think you have finally convinced me of the need to consult with a Physio too, thanks for the prompt 🙂

    • Hi Russ,
      I wondered what you strained? Age is important. I know my hip flexor issue will take 3 months. I’m 2 months in, and right on track. Would have taken 3 days when I was 18, I expect.
      Patience and the correct diagnosis are critical. A good PT is worth a lot, combined with you understanding the anatomy of the system you are fixing.
      Wishing you a speedy recovery,

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.