Arches and Shins and Ice Packs, Oh My!

To say my training has been eratic over the last few weeks would be an understatement. I’ve already written about that here, but I wasn’t expecting to be paying for it physically when I’m already mentally drained.

After the long run on March 11, my arches and shins were in excruciating pain. I knew I needed to swap out my shoes, so I wore them for Sunday’s errands to keep breaking them in, and then I wore them for my Monday morning run before work. I also KT-taped my shins – doing my left leg differently than my right to see which felt better – but neither really helped. My right arch was also searing with pain. Another fun thing ALMOST happened but I averted a crisis and let’s just say I made it home in time…literally running from the end of my run, into my building, up 3 flights of stairs, and into my apartment with milliseconds to spare.

But afterward, I was miserable. I was limping at work. I tried to ice my arches and shins at my desk but it wasn’t easy or practical. I tried the standing desk, but standing made everything worse. I ended up popping ibuprofen throughout the day, and emailing Coach Jack.

He said it did sound like plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial tendon syndrome (PTT – AKA “shin splints”). He suggested contrast therapy – heat, stretching, then ice – as well as ibuprofen every 4-6 hours and no impact, meaning the goddam elliptical. I did 90 minutes on Thursday night, the equivalent of a 9-mile run, and then THREE HOURS on Saturday morning, the equivalent of a 17-mile run. I had no pain during either session, but I would rather run outside, either alone or with my teammates, any day. It was pretty miserable. I still met my teammates for brunch on Saturday, but was in pain after walking around for a few hours.

On Sunday the pain seemed to be limited to my right arch and both shins – no more pain in my left arch. I went to a gentle yoga class that night and left with more soreness in my quads than anywhere else (they’re perpetually tight), so I thought I might be on the road to recovery.

I went to PT on Monday morning – the same guy who treated my hamstring strain after the half marathon in October. He knows me and my body and how stubborn/determined I am. We spent an hour together, first explaining the onset of symptoms and then him assessing my feet and ankles, and then the diagnosis – no plantar fasciitis but definitely some posterior tibial tendon issues (soft tissue, not bone thankfully). The PTT wraps around the arch under the foot, so he thinks the pains are directly related. He showed me how to manually stretch my toes and self-massage my shins, and wants to see me every Monday till the Marathon. I opted for self-pay instead of activating my $5,000 insurance deductible, so the first appointment was $110 and the rest will be $75 each. He also said I can run.

I told Coach Jack the good news, but he wanted me to err on the side of caution and stick with the elliptical unless I was pain-free. My PT said this type of injury tends to feel better as the body warms up, so that the first few miles might always be the most painful, but that I’m not going to do more damage as long as I’m sticking with the therapy plan. So I decided to find a happy medium – elliptical during the week, and long runs on the weekends. We have 22 big ones coming up on Saturday and even if I only do 18-20, I will still feel OK about it. Then it’s taper time!

With my newfound free time, I’ve also been using my gym membership more and trying out a yoga studio near my gym. I absolutely fell in love with this yoga sculpt class they offer. The room is heated to 75-80 degrees, and you warm up and cool down with yoga, but use weights in various yoga poses for the bulk of the class, including lots of body weight training and high intensity moves. It was hard, and unfortunately painful on my shins during the cardio portions (jumping!), and I sweat SO so much, but I will definitely be back.

 

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In the NormaTec boots – so heavenly.

 

On Monday, a teammate and I went to use the NormaTec Recovery Boots. According to NormaTec:

The NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems are dynamic compression devices designed for recovery and rehab. All of our systems use NormaTec’s patented PULSE technology to help athletes recover faster between trainings and after performance. Our systems include a control unit and attachments which go on the legs, arms, or hips. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with our patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern. When you use our systems, you will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to your exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.

I opted for focus on my feet and ankles, but my entire legs felt great afterward. At 50 cents a minute, I will definitely be using them again. Maybe Monday after work – before yoga sculpt? I could totally get down with that routine every week.

After work on Tuesday, I went to go do my self-massage and noticed a deep bruise on my right shin that I must’ve caused myself on Monday night. Oops! I guess I did a good job, though?

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“Massage” induced bruise.

 

 

 

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