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Being A Runner Living With Endometriosis—And How To Deal

With the arrival of my period as a teenage girl came the debilitating pain each month that I attributed to a wicked rite of passage all women must go through. Looking back on that time, I had no idea that what I thought was normal then wasn’t really normal at all.

It wouldn’t be until I went away to college that my endometriosis, a disorder that causes the tissue from the lining of the uterus to grow outside of the organ, presented itself in a way that I couldn’t keep ignoring. Already on prescribed pain medication during the week my period reared its ugly head, there were still days that I couldn’t drag myself out of bed because of the excruciating pain. Nothing seemed to help, but I was too shy to seek the medical attention that I truly needed. That is until the symptoms made it so that running was becoming a distant memory.

One day while running on the treadmill, the familiar stabbing pain struck my pelvic area causing me to cradle the safety bar while pulling the emergency stop to halt the moving belt. As I stood doubled over the treadmill in my apartment gym alone, I decided enough was enough. Shyness or not, I was not willing to give up running because my body wouldn’t cooperate. I went home that afternoon and called my doctor to begin making a treatment plan that I could not only live with but also run through.

The road to healing was a long one filled a lot of experimentation to not only treat the symptoms of my endometriosis but also control it from recurring. I had various surgeries, took the birth control pill constantly for a steady stream of hormones and even tried hormone creams. Eventually I found the right combination for my body and I’m happy to say I’ve been able to run pain-free for the past 10 years.

Related: Does Your Period Really Affect Your Performance

With an increased focus on natural remedies and the importance of understanding the things we put in our bodies, I now gravitate toward more organic-type treatment whenever possible and recently came across a method appropriate for those still suffering from endometriosis.

Exercise physiologist Susan Hitzmann created the MELT Method to help those suffering from chronic pain. Since endometriosis is typically very painful for women and ultimately can impede the ability to run, Hitzmann’s self-help method is something runners should consider.

“What I’ve found in most of my clients is that the tissue in the pelvic region can become irritated…[causing an] increased tendency for low back and neck pain, hip ache and decreased range of motion. My goal has always been reducing scaring with hands-on work [using] at-home tools to sustain the changes in the connective tissue, [ultimately] decreasing scaring and adhesions that would increase the tendency for pelvic and back pain,” says Hitzmann.

Using her book, The MELT Method, runners can learn the specific sequences she recommends for pain associated with endometriosis. Below is a preview of the treatment that can provide relief in as little as 10 minutes repeated three times per week:

Week 1 & 2

Soft Ball Foot Treatment

  • As scar tissue in the pelvis can distort posture and gait, working on the feet is the best foundation to create results. The points on the foot relate to key myofascial meridians that control overall joint stability. The techniques of Glide, Shear, and Rinse stimulate the local tissue in the feet, draw fluid flow back to the pelvis, and restore neurological control and balance.

Rebalance Sequence

  • The Rebalance Sequence quiets the stress reflex and restores balance in the autonomic regulators of the nervous system. By stimulating the diaphragmatic motion and consciously stimulating the neurological core reflex, a woman can improve the sliding surfaces of the connective tissue in the deep abdomen and pelvis. It helps to reduce local adhesions in the deep abdominal layers of tissue that are frequently affected by endometrial damage. This 10-minute sequence can reduce acute pain symptoms in the pelvis when a flare up occurs during menstruation but also helps reduce the severity and can keep cramping and pelvic pain at bay if done daily.

Weeks 3 & 4

Lower Body Compression (LBC) Sequence

  • The LBC Sequence stimulates the rooting mechanisms that help us sustain pelvic stability while restoring hydration directly to the pelvis. By compressing the inner thigh and back of thigh with the same Glide, Shear, and Rinse techniques learned during the Foot you’ll quickly gain more fluid flow through the sliding, supportive layers of connective tissue that seamlessly connect the legs to the deep pelvic floor. This sequence can also offer immediate relief during a severe endometrial flare up and reduce both severity and duration of pain symptoms.

Lower Body Length and Low Back Release Sequence

  • This sequence works directly on the pelvis and improves lumbopelvic stability and control. By stimulating the tissue that supports the SI Joint and pelvic bone positions, users learn how to draw gentle tensional pull against the tissue that supports the front of the spine.

To learn more about the MELT Method and the sequences above, check out Hitzmann’s book, The MELT Method.

Running shouldn’t be something you have to suffer through, and neither should endometriosis!

Related: The Natural Way To Get Rid Of Period Side Effects