I know I spent a lot of time whining on my blog about the fact that I couldn't run for awhile this summer. Sure, I was being a baby but the reality is this... My foot was so bad that it made doing regular tasks very difficult, if not impossible. The final straw was when my friend and I went out to a balloon festival and I could barely walk around without debilitating pain. He simply said to me, do you really want to compromise all of the marathons in your future for this one event? Wow, did that hit a cord with me.
Shortly thereafter I found myself at the doctor's office (I should mention I will still squeeking out miles VERY painfully at this point). The Dr. asked me if I was getting my miles in. Yes. He asked me if I was limping while running. No. He asked me where the pain was. Bottom of my foot. He pressed around, I cried and he told me I have a very bad case of plantar fasciitis. Damn it, I dealt with this before but never so bad. He told me that as long as I wasn't limping I could keep running but I needed to shut it down the minute I started limping. He prescribed me physical therapy (which is a story for another day) and sent me on my way.
Within a week I was limping so badly while running that I was starting to feel injured everywhere. I shut it down... If you have ever had to shut something down that you love, you know how hard that can be. As I patiently waited for about four weeks for the PT office to do their job (as I said, story for another day) I consistently got worse and I wasn't even running. Seriously, I thought this was so messed up but figured it was part of the injury.
When I finally got into PT and was matched up with one of the funniest and very competent Physical Therapists I almost cried! The first evaluation session included an ultrasound, the most painful deep tissue massage, tape on my feet and a series of very simple stretches (toe raises, towl stretches and something called pro-stretch) I was assigned as homework until my next session, which didn't take place for about two weeks (as I said working with this office is a story for another day but quite infuriating). I did my homework compulsively and started feeling a little better, however my ankle started snapping with every step I took.
The physical therapist went through the same procedures and assigned me some exercises which included steam boats. I watched her demonstrate these simple exercises I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Well when I started doing this simple exercise I immediately began falling over. It literally took me about 20 minutes to do what now takes me about two minutes. I was weak...
I was still feeling some relief but the popping in the ankle continued. The next appointment included a quick evaluation of my hip flexor by a different therapist. She laughed and told me I was as hard as a stiff man, we laughed, she tried to correct the terminology, dug herself a deeper hole and gave me some stretches and exercises to 'release' my hip flexor. An additional therapist was intrigued by my snapping in the ankle and gave me some ankle exercises to strengthen my ankle.
Meanwhile I was getting my arch taped up at every appointment, doing my exercises compulsively and finally feeling results. I decided it was time to try running again. The first run was great, the next day was great and then I went to Chicago to watch my sister's marathon and the pain was debilitating AGAIN!!! I should mention that I did not do the physical therapy as assigned for the weekend. Coincidence that I felt pain? I think not...
I went to the physical therapist three more times, started running a little bit and realized that any time I slack on the exercises my foot flares up. In talking with the therapists I learned that PT is not only about the appointments but about the entire process. I started thinking back to when I was diagnosed with scoliosis about 14 years ago. My doctor assigned me exercises to do for my back and I still do them daily. Perhaps that is why I tend to not have back pain? The same applies to these exercises.
Now, I know that everyone's body is different and needs different care but I find it VERY hard to believe that you can expect results if you do not do the homework. One of the most important things I learned through this process is that consistency is the key.
Who knew that a little pain in the foot could sideline someone for weeks, but it did...
Some people may read this and think that I was dealing with a little PF and should have charged through, however I can tell you that after the stress reaction in my tibia in the spring, I was simply not willing to take the risk of a more serious injury that could have sidelined me for longer than a few months. And, the honest truth is I could barely walk after any run. I will never regret taking care of my body!
I am back to running short distances and have set some goals but the primary goal is to stay pain and injury free which includes continuing my prescribed exercises consistently, after all it is what is keeping my pain to a minimum for now.