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The Mysterious Sleeping Injury

Sleeping JackThere’s no doubt that as I have gotten older, my body has changed. Coming back to running a bunch this summer, I’ve noticed that I tend to be stiffer on the days after a hard workout, and I pay the price if I don’t take days off. I’ve had fairly regular lower back issues, though (knock-on-wood) all has been well in that area since last summer. And I seem more prone to muscle strains – for example, I somehow managed to strain a rib muscle while pumping up the tire of my riding mower – that made it pretty painful to even breathe for the rest of the day.

One issue that cropped up a bit over a week ago still has me a bit perplexed. I woke up one morning with a sharp pain in my hip. The pain wasn’t there the day before, and to be honest I’d never even felt tightness in my hip region. But it hurt, and it made it difficult to run up any kind of incline/hill for the next week.

The logical answer is that I probably slept on it weird in order to compensate for a lingering shoulder injury suffered when trying to make a diving save in my son’s soccer practice (stupid move for an older guy…). But to just wake up with a pain so bad that even the slightest incline causes trouble? Is this an old guy thing, or do younger people have these issues as well?

Just writing this post has made me realize a theme for the past year or so – I get injured more easily. Part of it must be age, part of it must be that I am less fit than I used to be. In any case, be careful out there, sleeping can be pretty dangerous…

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Bradley Plummer says:

    This is your greatest post! We are all getting older and slowing down, myself included. Keep running…or resting.

  2. Will Kirousis says:

    Peter that’s hilarious – and you are right, sleeping can be a real butt kicker, just ask my shoulder :)

    Nice to see you posting again.

  3. So you’re 40 now? Man, I’d love to be 40 again. You might remember I didn’t start running seriously, with all the minimalist stuff (including info from your posts and videos) until I was 42. I think sometimes age becomes an easy excuse when maybe the real reason is neglect. I’ve stuck with the basic ideas of natural running and I haven’t missed a run because of injury in at least 5 years. Of course, I’ve also kept my weight down, so that helps. I crash and burn in races more than I used too, though. My training is even more half-assed and spotty than it used to be, and I also have the bad habit of trying new shoes and strange form ideas on race day. I did set a new personal course record last year around this time on a race I’ve done many times, so I know I’m still capable of good running. I have some upcoming races planned.

    I remember that you’ve laid down some seriously impressive runs. I would think that’s possible again. Maybe it requires a dose of humility and patience. It seems to me the some of the answers can be found in your earlier runblogger posts.

    btw, I still believe mediocre novice runners can learn from the elites. Have you watched the breaking 2 video? It’s so interesting to see the similarities in form (especially in the use of arms and position of the upper body) among the runners in Eliud’s group.


  4. I’m reading and I’m feeling older, too :((

  5. As you’ve detailed in your previous minimalist shoe reviews, too much cushion can be a bad thing. Ever considered sleeping on a harder mattress, which would promote movement as you sleep? Regarding back / hip issues, if you sit a lot for work etc, a kneeling chair could give you some benefits. The hip position is much more relaxed and the effects go all the way up to your head and shoulders. Kneeling chairs still put most of the weight on your bottom, so you’re not putting a lot of pressure on your knees. Finally, maybe you’d enjoy keeping a kettlebell at home for workouts. It’s an extremely functional workout tool and you can see improvements in your balance thanks to the swinging motion of some exercises. The “Enter the Kettlebell” Pavel Tsatsouline video is up on YouTube and shows all the fundamentals. Thanks for your great reviews and tips over the years!

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