An Experiment in Taping

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I picked up some KT Tape after my appointment the other day. Excited to see if it will help keep me running. I am about to test it out on the 2 or so miles to Goodale Park and back. Hopefully I won’t be hobbling home.

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Tendinitis, what?

I have been complaining about my ankle so much that the injury has its own name:  Anklemania.  This particular problem traces all the way back to January or February.  It’s come and gone a little bit.  I am still surprised I made it through the quarter marathon on it.  After that race, my phyiscal therapist encouraged me to take time off and see a doctor.

I waited a while to do either of those things.

Actually, I haven’t been running very much at all.  Major life changes and timing and the heat and my aversion to pain have all played a part in that.  I haven’t run in a week! But on Thursday, I did finally go to a sports medicine doctor.

That doctor asked questions and felt all around my left foot and ankle and decided that I probably had peroneal tendonitis. You can read things about it here and here. Basically, there are two tendons that run behind the ankle bone and one of them attaches down along the side of your foot.  Because the main part of the tendons’ job is to stabilize the foot so running on uneven surfaces (like I did back in January when the trouble started) can cause problems.  Not resting it enough right off (especially from injury through March, when I ran the most) probably aggravated it.

I have been prescribed physical therapy for six weeks to strengthen it.  If it doesn’t start to feel better pretty quickly, I go back in three weeks and we look at maybe a stress fracture and start taking x-rays, etc.  If it takes a turn for the worst, I go back ASAP. But, if I go six weeks of PT and all goes well, I should be good. I am allowed to run unless it hurts or I end up limping afterwards.  If that happens, I have to use the elliptical, bike, etc.

Incidentally, I had a final PT check up for my back on Wednesday which went really well.  My therapist joked that he would see me in two weeks for my ankle.  Boy, was he right!  I wonder if he’ll take my PT graduation shirt away…

You’re Doing It Wrong!

If you’ve been following along, you may have read a little bit about my ankle problems.  I thought that was actually all over, but I was apparently kidding myself.  After 4.05 miles yesterday, I have found myself with the same ankle pain back again.  Now, I think I know why.

Yesterday, as I was running, I was paying special attention to the way my feet were falling.  The right one was doing a fantastic job.  It was light.  It hit in the mid-foot area.  It came up.  It felt like a well-oiled machine doing what it was supposed to do.  But the left foot?  It was not coming down as light or bouncing back up very well.  The more I noticed it, the more awkward I felt.  Fast forward about 24 hours and I am having trouble walking normally.

Incidentally, I had physical therapy this morning and since I knew I wasn’t walking right, I mentioned how my ankle had started to bother me again.  After some discussion, he gave me an article I have read a few times before: The Once and Future Way to Run.  In the article is a video for the 100-Up.  I think I may have actually mentioned this before.  Well, I have done the 100-Up a few times, but never stuck with it.  My PT said I should start and keep going.  With my new discovery on how my foot is working, I can see the difference between what it’s doing and what the feet in the video are doing.  If I can get it right, maybe everything else will improve as well!

I wanted to go out for a little bit today, but I am staying in and 100-Up-ing instead.  I can’t hobble my way through the Cap City quarter next week after all.

It’s Not a Tumor… Just a Strain.

My physical therapist took a look at my ankle yesterday.  I see him every two weeks and since I had complained about it for the past session and the one yesterday, he started poking around.  His diagnosis: it’s probably just strained.  Not sprained, but strained.  I told him I thought it was probably overuse and he agreed it could be.

ankle elevation and calf sleeves

New CEP calf sleeves and ankle elevation up the wall.

I am to keep icing it, elevating it, etc.  If it isn’t better in another two weeks, I am being sent to the doctor. I took yesterday off from running despite my plan for a long run.  I had intended to do six miles either Monday or yesterday, but my ankle + rain on Monday left things a little short and then yesterday was yesterday.  Originally, I had planned to do weights today and maybe try the elliptical or bike for cardio with less impact.  I decided this morning (after a somewhat painful evening of standing at work last night) that I was taking a full day off from extra activity.

I know this is probably a good idea.  Mentally, it’s hard to swallow.  I want to do things and it makes me feel so much better to do them.  I feel kind of defeated even though I logically know I’m just resting so that I can do more later. Funny how your brain can work against you like that.

On a side note: the other day, I snagged some of those lovely CEP calf sleeves you see in the picture above.  My ankle felt pretty rough for a lot of my run on Monday, but man did my legs feel great!  I have to say I think I’m a true believer in compression now.

Anklemania, or How Do You Always Get Hurt?

If you’ve looked at my Twitter in the last couple weeks, you will have heard me bitching about my ankle.  It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that there is somehow something wrong.  I usually end up in the ER for an annual visit of some sort: 2011 was for the my gallbladder, 2010 was for pleurisy, and years prior were mostly for asthma.  I didn’t end up in the ER for my herniated disc, though the owner of my gym offered to call an ambulance.  That time, I probably should have gone if for no other reason than to get better pain medication or to get diagnosed faster.

At any rate, I have actually been dealing with left foot problems since I was in Boston in January.  While taking a run with my sister around Cambridge where there are some very uneven sidewalks that are often made of brick, I think I did something to my toe or foot.  I’m not sure which came first because eventually, it was both.  My theory was that I hurt one and then walked so strangely to compensate, that I aggravated the other.  I guess it really doesn’t matter where it started. As for my ankle, it has been giving me trouble since around the 5k almost two weeks ago.  When we went to the expo for packet pick-up, I was half-searching for two things: a hat and something to help my just-starting-to-ache ankle.  I never did find a hat, but I did find something helpful.

First, I stumbled upon a booth selling compression socks, but that wasn’t really what I wanted.  I then found CEP products.  I wanted this ankle support, but my (somewhat swollen) ankle measured in a size they didn’t have, so I went back to the compression sock booth.  I settled on some Sigvaris athletic recovery socks.  The sales woman explained a few things about the socks, that they could be worn during activity or for just recovery, the type of compression, etc.  I signed for them and we were off.  Of course, after the expo, we went and walked around Disney parks, so the only time I had with the socks before the race was a small amount of time the night before.  I didn’t want to wear them for the race because I didn’t know how it would be to run in them.  I did wear them after, and that seemed to calm my feet/ankle/calves down a little.  After the race, though, we went park hopping again and that was also probably not helpful.

After two weeks,  I am  still dealing with ankle pain.  I’m sure it’s partially because I haven’t taken real time off from activity.  The stiffness and pain usually subside with use, flare a little bit during activity, but then go away until I am suddenly stationary for awhile and then it doesn’t feel so good again.  My trainer suggested icing after all activity, which I’ve been doing.  I’ve been wearing the compression socks and elevating for recovery as well.  I took today off of running because going out in the wind and rain with my ankle feeling stiff and painful just seemed like too many negatives.  I am hoping that by the time I go out for a run tomorrow, I will be a little better off.

So, if you have ideas about how to ensure better ankle strength and support or just how to get this healed up a little faster, I’d love to hear any suggestions.  I fear RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is my only option and that doesn’t sound like a quick fix.

That last statement actually answers the question in this post’s title: I always get hurt because I want things too fast.  I hurt my back because I did too much lifting too quickly.  I was too tired and didn’t check my form while using heavy weight, taking for granted what my body could do.  My ankle has bothered me because I haven’t taken the appropriate amount of time to heal.  Hell, it’s probably just from overuse in the first place. Not resting to the point of pain and then not resting when there is pain just means more pain.

The moral of this story: take it slow. Whatever physical activity you are jumping into, don’t follow my lead and jump a little slower.  I try to listen to my body and then I promptly tell it to shut up.  Don’t do that.  Avoid anklemania for yourself.