Sexy New Footwear

After a couple weeks of waiting and spending a lot of time in the pool, I finally had my orthopedist appointment today.

The good news is that the MRI shows no evidence of a tear to the tendon. There could be a small one that would only show up if they opened it up surgically, but he doesn’t see any need to do that as I am still able to lift up onto the toes which indicates that the tendon is mostly still sound.

The bad news is, the tendon is still pretty inflamed. There is a lot of fluid around the tendon which is pushing on everything around it and making it sore, and according to the doc will probably take a while to subside. How long, he can’t say. It just takes as long as it takes.

He likes my plan of staying in the pool and doing the occasional spin class, and basically says that if it hurts, I should not do it. And no running until I can get through all my daily activities without any pain. When I am pain free, then I can start doing therapy band work and then work my way back into running.

I am still hoping to ease back into dry land running towards the end of the summer, but basically there is no way to plan for it because the ankle is in charge of the timing. So I will hold off on putting down those entry fees for the fall triathlons.

He doesn’t seem to think that I need an orthotic over the long term, but says I should go ahead and get some inserts like SuperFeet green to assist with the over pronation that is at the root of the problems I am having.

He also wants to immobilize the foot a bit more for the day to day activities while it is healing. So he gave me one of these lovelies…

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Ain’t she purty? That’s gonna look awesome with all my summertime shorts and skirts! I just need an extra large sandal to pull it off – maybe something gladiator-style would work?

I know you’re jealous that I have all the fun, but oh well. We can’t all be fashionable.

Your turn! What is your favorite summer footwear? Have you ever had a supposedly minor injury that would not go away? How did you cope? Tell me about it in the comments!

National Running Day

Today was National Running Day. I went swimming for an hour to celebrate. I would rather have gone for a nice outdoor run but with the ankle issue, I can’t. So, into the pool I go.

I am sort of excited about one running related thing that happened today. My Runners Rehab kit arrived from AquaJogger. This kit includes an AquaJogger belt, some funky little floaty shoes, a tether, and some triangular dumb bells.

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Nope, not gonna look dorky at all in that getup…

The belt is the only critical piece of the kit – you pretty much can’t do pool running in deep water without it. The other items – shoes, dumb bells, tether, are mainly intended to increase resistance. I intend to use the shoes and belt every time I do this because I have a hard time feeling my legs without the shoes. I think I need a little more resistance. Not sure about the dumb bells, and I probably won’t use the tether until I start transitioning my running back onto dry land.

In other running related news, I also had an MRI this morning for my ankle. That meant 35 minutes with my ankle locked into a flexed position and inserted inside a very loud and clanging machine. You cannot move at all while they are taking images, which is tough because each of the images takes 4 or so minutes to be done, and they take 10 of them. And the machine sometimes causes your muscles to twitch from the magnets (or something). I got yelled at a couple of times for involuntary movements, but overall they said they got a good image quality.

It was a very long and uncomfortable 35 minutes. But in a day or so I will finally have definitive information about my ankle, and once I have that, I’ll be able to start formulating some kind of plan for how to get this thing healed up. So, I’m glad it’s finally done.

Eat and Swim Mom

I’m sitting here with sore shoulders right now, from doing one of the few forms of exercise that I can still do on my sore ankle. Non-weight bearing is pretty much where it’s at for me until further notice, so it looks like I will be doing quite a bit of swimming until this ankle situation gets sorted out. And spin classes (mostly sitting down). And whatever else I can come up with that does not involve standing or moving around upright.

Maybe I will have to change the name of the blog?

Here are some possibilities:
Eat and Swim Mom
Eat and Run in the Pool Mom
Eat and Stationary Bike Mom
Eat and Do A Lot of Knee Push-ups Mom
Eat and Pet the Cat Mom…

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That’s one vote for petting the cat.

And yes, in the absence of running posts, the Eat and Run Mom has been reduced to posting gratuitous cat pictures. That’s how far the mighty have fallen…

So okay, enough whining. Since I can’t run, today was a swim day. And you know what? Swimming is some hard damn work! I suspect that is why I have never particularly cared for it in the past. It’s probably more work than it should be since my stroke is not so great. Something to work on while swimming endless laps for the next few weeks I guess.

Running is so easy – at least, the way I do it, it is. Or was. Can’t say the same for swimming.

Another issue I have with swimming is that unlike running, it’s not just strap on shoes and go. There are two clothing changes involved – before and after.

Plus, the whole showering up afterwards thing is a pain. I can run around town all day long in my sweaty workout clothes if I want to, and nobody looks at me funny. They might not want to stand too close to me, but otherwise it’s not a problem. Can’t walk around town in a wet swimsuit though, or you get refused service in public places.

Also, if I swim, I have to wash my hair more often than twice a week. Those are precious minutes I am never getting back. Actually come to think of it, that part is kind of nice – for me and everyone else.

Showering in peace. Just one more thing I’ve missed since I had kids!

So anyway, I swam laps for about 30 minutes while my youngest monkey was in a swim lesson. I definitely felt it a lot in my butt, lower abdominals, lats and shoulders. Felt like a good workout, and it hurt less than I remember.

If I could work up to an hour at a time a few days a week, I’d definitely feel like I accomplished something.

Okay – now it’s your turn.

If you couldn’t run, what kind of exercise would you do?

How do you feel about swimming? Love it, hate it, or neutral about it?

Another Frustrating Turn

Well, just when I thought I would be back to running again, I’ve hit another snag. Can you say FRUSTRATING??

Last week I ran a couple of times, which didn’t feel great but wasn’t overly painful. But then, I went and did something really dumb. I took my kid to the batting cage. And since I can’t pass up the chance to hit a few balls off the machine (it really is fun and therapeutic), I decided to take few swings myself.

Well, let me tell you, that was a dumb idea. Who knew that rapidly twisting the ankle would be a bad idea? I didn’t. Because yes, I am exactly that bright. Whatever I did, really did not feel good. And my ankle has been jacked up ever since (going on 5 days now).

I kind of thought it would pass and be okay, so I was planning on being back to running this week, but it’s not happening. There has been more swelling and a lot more discomfort than there had been, even though I skipped my run over the weekend and have been taking it pretty easy since Thursday.

Part of the problem is that my Post-tib tendon is still doing quite a bit of subluxation – which means that it pops out of the groove in the ankle bone where it is supposed to sit. It’s a sensation that varies from merely alarming to actually excruciating for those split seconds when it is doing it. It happens because it is swollen/inflamed – so doesn’t fit where it is supposed to go.

The ankle is also just super wobbly – there isn’t much stability in the joint. So it may be that I need to be in an orthotic. Or a boot. Or maybe I need surgery. That will be up to a doctor to let me know, since conservative management doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Possibly because I’m dumb and make bad decisions, like going to the batting cage.

So anyway, when I went to PT today, I wasn’t exactly kicked out, but my therapist recommended I go back to the doctor for more imaging and to determine next steps.

This is my second setback in the 6 weeks I’ve been going so this is probably a wise step but I’m still pretty bummed. However, I do know that problems with the Post-tib tendon can be degenerative, with a risk of turning into what is called a fixed flat foot, which would pretty much put a permanent stop to my running. So it really is best to fix the problem before it gets worse, rather than literally run the ankle into the ground.

But still, I’m frustrated. Partly at the situation, partly at myself. How ironic that the big thing I was worried about (not being able to run after my hysterectomy) was what motivated me to continue training for the Rain Run even though my ankle was already hurting, probably aggravating the condition, which is now the thing keeping me from running. The hysterectomy, meanwhile, was a total non-event.

I guess that proves the old adage true – that a man often meets his fate on the road he takes to avoid it.

Calming Down

Happy to report that staying off my ankle (or at least, not running on it) seems to be working and the pain is starting to subside. And that is good because I was super frustrated about my situation when I went I to PT yesterday. I whined that I was tired of having every workout make my ankle hurt, wondering when I will ever get back to running the way I want to, and just generally feeling sorry for myself.

Fortunately (and unsurprisingly) this is probably something PT’s hear a lot, so she said the right things calmed me down. We worked out a good plan and today I am feeling a lot better. Mentally, I feel better. And so does my ankle.

One piece of advice she gave me is that we need to make sure the arch and ankle are supported while I’m still healing. I was having a lot of problems with some of the balancing exercises, because when I try to stabilize the foot, it really pulls on that tendon to the point where it hurts.

Apparently this stuff is not supposed to hurt.

Of course, I’m old school and that’s not what I heard…

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That picture scares me. He looks like a hernia waiting to happen.

Pain – actual pain, not to be mistaken for “effort” – is bad, in spite of what you may find printed on muscle shirts. Everything I was doing was bothering my ankle because it was getting over stretched and inflamed. That’s not good, so we need to get the stress off it while we reteach the muscles to to the work my tendon is currently attempting to do.

The upshot is that she wants me to wear arch supports while I’m healing up. I went and bought some to put in my ballet flats and let me tell you – it made a world of difference in just a few minutes. Just a little support under the arch and the heel bone and the shoes, which were almost unbearably painful (but also so unbearably cute, I couldn’t bear to part with them), are now comfortable to wear again. Yay!

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Oh, and she also got after me a little about not rolling out the calf enough, so I guess I need to start doing that again. I stopped for a while because I decided that carrying my rolling pin to the gym around looks a little goofy. I mean, one does tire of fielding inquiries as to why they are carting around a rolling pin everywhere they go. So I finally broke down and bought a Stick.

7 Week Recovery Report

Whew. Today was rough. We all have those days where things just don’t go our way. For us it started with a late wake up, and an early baseball game in the rain and wind. The kids were at each other all day, in and out of trouble, not listening. I decided they were tired so sent them to bed early. Oleg fell asleep in minutes, Max is right behind.

Ahhhhh. Sweet silence.

Small children’s efforts to derail my inner zen notwithstanding, I got in a good workout today. Did about a half hour on the elliptical – going as hard as I could. I dripped all over the machine, so that means I was working hard right? I guess when you go 180 rpm on there with reasonable resistance, “sweat happens.”

Normally, I am not a big fan of the elliptical. So boring. You can get your heart rate up on it though and that is all I needed. I had to skip running – my ankle has been bothering me more this week so I decided to get off it. It seems that the 9 or so miles of run/walking I did this week, combined with the Physical Therapy I’ve been doing for my ankle, was a lot.

Since the ankle is kind of sore, I’m going to try to stay off it until Wednesday and see if it calms down. If it does I will try to do the Inspiring Hope run next weekend. It may end up being an Inspiring Hope walk. I will run on Wednesday just to see how it is doing, then if it seems okay, I’ll sign up.

After elliptical I did my PT exercises. While I was doing the Arm and Leg swings in the Sagittal Plane (the hardest one I have to do) some wiseacre next to me goes, “I guess that exercise must be harder than it looks.”

I thought to myself, “What was your first clue, genius? The fact that I keep practically falling over, or that my face is beet red and I look like someone is poking me in the leg with a red hot poker?”

I was nice, though. I just said “yup,” and kept at it.

I sure will be glad to have running not cause me pain anymore, because I miss being able to do long runs on the weekend. As a friend of mine said to me this week, running is my sanity. It (and this blog) are my “me” things that I do. I like getting in a good workout at the gym, but it is not the same as running outside for an hour for my general outlook. I like getting sweaty out in nature I guess.

I said this was a 7 week recovery report. Guess I better report.

As far as the surgery aspect, things are good. No abdominal pain at all, everything feels pretty normal now. In fact, I’m not sure how much longer I will keep doing these reports because I am not sure how much longer the surgery itself will be a factor with regards to the things I am interested in talking about on this blog. I feel pretty good, can do pretty much everything I want to, and I still feel like long term there shouldn’t be much in the way of negative impact.

The only thing I am still struggling with is the ankle. I had really hoped the bed rest in March and time I’ve spent not running over the last 3 months (pretty much since the Rain Run) would have fixed me up. I certainly didn’t expect to still be having pain 3 months later. I think the PT is helping, and will help more and more as I get stronger, I just feel frustrated that this is the thing holding me back.

On the other hand, maybe it’s good this ankle thing is happening. Since the surgery recovery seems so easy, I’d probably have hurt myself already if there wasn’t something slowing me down, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

My New Best Friend

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My new best friend is a rolling pin, and I’m not even making a pie. In fact, I’m not doing any baking at all. I had my first PT appointment for the posterior tibial tendinitis this afternoon, and it was suggested that I repurpose a rolling pin to loosen up the muscles and fascia in my calves so that the posterior tibial tendon isn’t being constantly pulled on by the muscles above it.

I cannot believe that a) this actually works and b) it’s actually a thing. You can google “rolling pin massage” and find a bunch of videos of people doing this exact thing.

It works so well that after I rolled out my legs, I was able to stand on one foot, walk up and down stairs and all around my house, and squat down to the floor while keeping my heels on the floor with no pain. It’s been months since I could do any of those things. I am amazed at the difference this simple technique could make in just one day.

I had actually tried rolling out the calves before using my foam roller but it just couldn’t get in and release the right areas. But the rolling pin seems to be able to do the trick. Who knew they were good for more than just making pastry?

Better Every Day

Every time someone asks me how I am feeling since my surgery, I tell them I feel better every day. It wasn’t true at first, but it has been true for the last couple of weeks since I started back to walking at the gym. I am at 5 weeks today and am really feeling strong now. I occasionally have odd twinges of soreness, but for the most part my surgical stuff is not causing me any pain.

If only based on my recovery from surgery, I think I would be getting back to running pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the tendinitis I developed back in January is still bothering me.

Since I’ve already tried giving it a couple of months of rest and doing some rehab exercises I found on the Internet – a course of action that hasn’t quite worked- I decided to stop futzing around and actually go see a doctor about it today. He basically agreed with my Internet diagnosis of posterior tibial tendonitis, and recommended 2 more weeks of high dose Ibuprofen three times daily, some PT and some orthotics, and then see where we are. He also said I need to go back to Brooks when I go back to running as the Asics I switched to are probably not a stable enough shoe for me. Honestly, I can feel the squishyness of them so I definitely think it could be the shoes are at least partially responsible.

Anyway, If there’s no improvement in a couple of weeks, then we will do an MRI and possibly refer me to a podiatrist.

The good news for now is that he felt that I didn’t seem to be in enough pain for a stress fracture to be very likely, and that tendonitis was very consistent with what I told him about my training. A lot of mileage added quickly is a pretty textbook way to give yourself tendinitis, which I knew. What I didn’t know was how fast it would go from “no problem” to “big problem”. At the time I knew I was adding miles pretty quickly but had just hoped to get by with it for a few weeks. Obviously, I miscalculated. Lesson learned, I guess.

Wednesday and Thursday Workouts

Wednesday was a cross training day. I’m slowly building my mileage back up, and this time trying to do it safely so as not to injure myself again, so I only run 3 or 4 days a week. On days when I don’t run I usually do 30 minutes of some kind of low impact cardio, followed by strength training and exercises to strengthen my hips.

So yesterday’s workout was 30 minutes of stairclimber, followed by weights for the upper arms and shoulders, and a workout for core and hips using the Swiss ball and resistance band. And planks. Which I hate because they hurt, which probably means I need to do more of them.

Today was a treadmill workout. What I usually do on Thursday is start out walking, and then speed up gradually until I am basically running at my usual moderate tempo, then add in a couple of intervals to work on speed. When that is over I do some strength training. Today was leg machines, core and hips.

I work on core and hip strength every day because my belief is that weak hips caused my injury last spring. The stabilizing muscles were too tight in the front and inside of the hip (hip flexors and adductors) and too weak in the rear and outside (the hip abductors and external rotators).

You can actually see the problem in pictures of me running from last spring – my knees cross the midline while my hip is sort of poking out to the side – I.e., the left hip is dropping down when the right bears the load, and vice versa. I also overpronate and heel strike, so pretty much I have/had the trifecta of running gait flaws going on. A hot mess. So I’ve been working on strengthening these muscle groups and actually focusing on pushing off more to the rear and outside when I run. Turns out that even though running is a natural exercise that the human body is built to do, there’s still a lot of stuff to work on and think about if you want to actually improve. Or at least, go long distances without hurting yourself.

So anyway, yesterday was stairs and strength training. Today was treadmill and strength training. And tomorrow will be running and elliptical and strength training. Then comes Saturday, a rest day before I do my long(ish) run on Sunday. Good times.

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My Foam Rolling Injury

Seriously – who injures themselves with a foam roller?

Apparently, I do. So as a public service I thought I’d give my two cents on the latest cure-all panacea to hit the fitness world – the foam roller.

I had heard great things about how it can help relieve sore muscles and loosen tight IT bands. Many people seemed to love it, so as a birthday present I gave one to my husband. I figured he could use it after his sometime runs, to loosen up his chronically tight hamstrings.

Of course, after he opened it and before he ever used it, I thought I should give it a “roll,” so as to be able to give advice. Seemed pretty straightforward and I’d seen them used plenty of times at the gym. What could go wrong?

So I rolled away. Up and down and back and forth across my calves and hamstrings and IT band and everywhere that was stiff and tight. Then I rolled it over my lower back.

Apparently, you should use the foam roller only on soft tissue. You should avoid bony protuberances, such as the sacrum and tailbone area. I discovered this for myself when I felt a sudden pain rolling over that area. Not sure what went wrong exactly but I can tell you that it immediately began to feel bad, and over the course of the next few days, went from bad to worse.

I asked around and the only thing I could figure out as to what happened was that maybe I had a bulging disk that I inadvertently rolled over and aggravated it. It’s odd, because I don’t typically get a lot of lower back pain but this was pretty doggone uncomfortable – every morning for about 2 weeks I woke up bent over and it would take 15 minutes and an ibuprofen for the discomfort to die down enough to go about my business. It hurt bad enough I had to back off running just as I was starting to get back to it after hurting my hip. But then it resolved and I was back to normal (whatever that is when you’re 40-some years old).

So that is my experience with the foam roller. I still use it occasionally but I’m definitely more careful with it now and would recommend doing what I didn’t do – read the instructions or have someone knowledgeable show you the best way to use it.