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.

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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.