I credit transitioning to barefoot shoes with calming down my iliotibial bands. I used to get intense pain from running and even backpacking if I didn’t keep those IT bands stretched out with regular running. Rolling the IT bands on a foam roller was always incredibly painful. Now, I can miss a few days of running and now have the IT band pain come back. When I foam roll, it isn’t excruciating. 

But in the last couple weeks, I was noticing a new pain cropping up on my right side. It was a weird combination of heel and ankle pain, and it only made itself felt when I was running. 

After one recent run, I did some self massage and figured out that the muscle running along the outside of my right calf was extremely tight. I massaged in some CBD balm and tried to decrease the tension on the muscle, but it didn’t help very much. Enough that I could keep running, but the pain wasn’t going away. 

I began to think about it even when it wasn’t hurting, and I noticed that when I stood still, I had a tendency to roll my weight to the outside of my right foot. I noticed it once, and then again and again. It was definitely a habit. And it was a habit that clearly led to muscles tightening up on the outside of my right leg – exactly where I’d traced the heel pain to. 

I’ve been working on paying attention to where my weight is when I’m standing still, and I can feel how it’s making a difference to the tight muscles in my right leg. My last few runs haven’t been as painful in that area, though I still have a ways to go. 

And it occurred to me that this was a long formed habit in response to who knows what in my past. If I didn’t pay attention and work on fixing it, it would probably lead to injury eventually. Or it would cause me to stop running. 

And if that can happen to my physical body without my noticing, then doesn’t it also make sense that such habits could happen in my mind? What kinds of little habits have I picked up mentally that I don’t notice until I try something “strenuous”? Something that stretches me beyond my comfortable routines. . .  

I’m going to be paying more attention to my habits, both physical and mental, going forward, that’s for sure. 

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