Monday, November 21, 2011

A Sore Subject

OK, I still need work on the restraint. I cracked yesterday and did a 3-mile loop outside. After all, how many more times before winter sets in am I going to be able to run in a t-shirt and shorts?
Three miles never felt so long as when I was worrying about my foot the whole way! And then I started worrying that I would make it worse by worrying…the whole thing is just a vicious cycle. But luckily there didn’t seem to be any lasting consequences to my foot. I was a little bit sore for maybe an hour afterward, but again I was probably hyper-analyzing every little muscle movement in my foot. In the end, I decided that my toes (on both feet) actually protested more than the arch.

Today, about the only part of my body that doesn’t hurt is my foot. My thighs—back and front—won’t let me straighten my legs out the whole way, until I gradually stretch them. I practically need a forklift to drag me up off the floor. Even my arms are sore.

But it’s a good sore. So good that I couldn’t resist going out again today—and I made it 5 miles! I like to think I’ve learned my lesson about ignoring my protesting body, but in this case I knew the protests were simply those of weak muscles being used once again. I can deal with that. I will gladly walk like an old lady because it means I’m really on the way back.

I have never been so happy to be sore!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just Say No

For nearing the end of November, it was an absolutely beautiful day out today. It took all of my restraint not to do the three-mile loop that goes around our neighborhood. I promised myself yesterday that after three days in a row of running at least three miles (in fact, 4 on Thursday and 3.7 yesterday), I would take at least one day off. Especially before trying the great outdoors.

I was going to give it two days, but I’m not sure my resolve will hold that long. Which brings me to one of my fears that come with my newfound freedom: That I will get overenthusiastic and bring everything crashing back down around me.

I have a problem with overenthusiasm when it comes to working off excess energy. It’s part of the reason I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis for so long, but it’s not just with running. I got a little excited about the kicking while swimming one day and my ankle was a little sore that week. I even got a little too into it on the stationary bike and it bothered my knees. These were stupid little minor things, but they are still a reminder to pace myself.

The other scary part of freedom is just that: being free. I’m on my own now. I’m not leaning on advice from my therapist anymore, and that means I have sole responsibility for the well-being of my foot. It’s sort of a mixed blessing. I’ve been waiting for this so long, but now I have to make sure I don’t pile on the miles to quickly, too soon. When it comes to running or not running, it’s hard for me to err on the side of caution. I guess it’s just something I’ll have to learn with time. Hopefully now that I can swim and bike, it will be easier to take it slow with the running—and just say “no” if I’m not feeling one hundred percent.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Loving the Blisters

Today I had my LAST physical therapy session. At least, I hope. It’s my last unless I start gimping like a cripple having trouble again. But I’m going to try as hard as I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s encouraging that I’ve been consistently running (no longer shuffling!) slightly longer distances without any major disagreements from my foot, although it did raise objections about the elliptical a few weeks ago. But since I actually hate the elliptical, that’s not such a tragedy.

Anyway, back on track…. When my therapist asked how it was going, I proudly told him I had just run four miles on the treadmill. (Technically it was two and two, since there’s a 20-minute time limit on the treadmills at the gym and I had to stop and then restart after two miles.) He wrote it all down on my chart, and then I added, “…and I did three yesterday.”

That’s right! This is probably the biggest success for me—two days in a row of decent mileage. The only other time I ran two days straight recently was less than a mile outside and then 2.5 the next day on the treadmill. And I was a bit sore after that. Now…well, let’s just say I can tell I ran. I wouldn’t call it sore (there is some of that normal “good” soreness you get from exercise), but rather stiff. And there’s hardly any swelling, if any.

Aaannddd…[drumroll]…I have a blister! It’s the first one I’ve had since probably July or August. I used to get them all the time on the backs of my heels, and who would have thought that I’d actually miss them. But I’ll gladly take a few blisters if I can have my life back.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eggshells

This evening I went for my second “legal” outdoor run. It was only about .75 miles, but it still felt great to get outside. The thing I miss most is the smell. Everything is so fresh—I’m tired of wafting chlorine fumes behind me all day or getting disgustingly sweaty on the stationary bike (which is in the same room as the fireplace). At the same time, I feel like I’m running on eggshells—like I have to be really careful. I guess I’ll know when I’m really better when I can just go run without thinking about every step.

In the meantime, I’ve upped my treadmill miles. I did a 5k on Friday morning, although I had to break it up because of the 20-minute time limit on the gym equipment. My biggest breakthrough? 6 mph doesn’t feel like sprinting anymore.

All this running, and my foot hasn’t bothered me much. Running on the asphalt seems to annoy it more than the treadmill, even though I don’t go as far. And I’ve found that the elliptical raises objections. (This doesn’t really make sense to me, but I’ll take it since the running seems to be going okay—knock on wood.)

Despite the soreness from the elliptical, I’ve noticed (and my therapist did, too) that even when my foot hurts, it doesn’t swell. Which is really confusing since when I first started running again it would get all poofy and feel tight, but it didn’t hurt. (Yes, that’s how I described it one day at PT—“poofy.”) I almost prefer that, but on the other hand no swelling hopefully means the underlying problem is going away. The hard lump is, of course, still there. I think it’s just permanent, which is fine as long as it doesn’t bother me. I really don’t care what the bottom of my feet look like.

Hopefully this week I’ll work myself up to four miles, and maybe even a little more outdoor running. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breaking Free

Happy Halloween! And even better, when I think about trick-or-treating…all that walking on pavement, through uneven grass, and in our case snow (yes, snow already…) it doesn’t make me cringe. In fact, I seem to have had some sort of breakthrough that coincided with the week my physical therapist went out of town. I think he needs to go away more often. :)

Anyway, last week it felt so good that I ventured out of my shuffling pace and even ran a 10-minute mile (6 mph) on the treadmill last Wednesday (I’m trying NOT to compare myself to the 7-8 minute pace I had before…it just depresses me). My therapist mentioned starting to run again, a couple minutes at a time—whence I (somewhat sheepishly) told him about doing “some” running on the treadmill, “not very fast.” Well, it wasn’t that fast….

Anyway, I now officially have permission. This past Wednesday I did another 10 minutes at 6 mph. And then on Friday the stationary bike crapped out on me, so down to the basement and the treadmill! After a bit of warm up I ran TWO miles at 6 mph and then slowed it down to 5.5 for another 10 minutes. It only took me about 35 minutes to go just over three miles. Who care about the time? I haven’t even gone three miles for months now!

I’m contemplating braving the great outdoors this afternoon. There are rules, of course. I can’t go as far. No concrete, but asphalt is okay. A track is better, but we’re trying to be practical here and sometimes that just isn’t possible. I’ll admit I’m a little afraid to try. But I got the impression that my therapist wanted me to do the treadmill and outside. Plus, I don’t want to be stuck on a treadmill the rest of my life. Talk about boring!

I’ve always thought that about 90% of running is mental. It’s not hard to run long distances. What’s hard is thinking you can do it and making yourself keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I think to a certain extent this injury has been a mental challenge for me, too. I’ve been paranoid about my feet ever since I started physical therapy. Thinking about them all the time made them hurt all by itself. If I ran a bit because I was late, I’d be waiting for the pain to get worse…and it would. But now that I’ve successfully put in a few miles without dire consequences, I’m losing some of the fear. I’m realizing that this isn’t going to last forever. And it’s great to finally remember how it feels to walk pain-free!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Finally, an Update!

Wow, I hadn’t meant to let it go so long between posts…now I can hardly remember what’s happened since my last update! I tend to get this way with blogs. They’re fun and exciting for a while and then they become just one more thing I need to do when I’m already busy. But here I am!

Basically I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. Two weeks ago the swelling was way down. It was still painful to walk on most of the time, but every once in a while—usually in the early afternoon, walking to the pool after class—I could get in a mostly pain-free walk. I’ve kept up the treadmill running. I make sure I walk for a bit before, though—I think it helps get me warmed up.

I’ve been experimenting with the length of time I can endure. Not until I feel pain—I never go that far! I’m talking next-day/later-that-night walking down the hall soreness. Or burning pain. Or whatever it decides to manifest itself as this time. Pebble, bruise, knife, match, heel, side, under the ankle, in the arch. It varies so much I get dizzy just thinking about it.

Anyway, the day before my last physical therapy session (Monday) I ran on the treadmill and was a bit sore and swollen. My therapist is really confused because he doesn’t see swelling with plantar fasciitis, so he was going to talk with my regular doctor about possible causes. I’m almost wondering if the hard lump isn’t scar tissue, because…well, it’s hard. But the swelling is definitely there. When I’m running in the pool the water feels different passing over that area, and my shoes feel different because more of my foot/arch touches the bottom of the left one. In fact I was a little puffy on the side of my foot, under the ankle. Only a very little bit, though.

So I’ve been Googling. That’s what I do when things don’t make sense. And I’ve found that there are so many other possible causes of swelling in that area that I’m no closer to finding an answer. It could be tendinitis. Or an abductor hallucis strain. Or a combination. I just don’t know.

But here’s the weird part. I ran again on Wednesday—6 minutes. The next day I could my foot just felt puffy. In fact, I have been walking almost pain free since Thursday. I’m not sure that makes any sense, but for some reason my foot has decided to behave—for now. And today and yesterday the swelling almost disappeared. It’s even hard to feel that hard bump right now. Of course, if I walked around the block I could probably have it back. But I won’t try too hard.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Work in Progress

Exams and homework have unfortunately kept me from posting as often as I’d like this week…two down, one to go!

Since running on the treadmill seemed to be working for me, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then on Saturday I decided to go for a walk around my block since I never really get to go outside anymore…and since I felt good, it turned into a short run. Only about ¾ of a mile, and I felt all right the whole time. Even later that night, my feet weren’t bothering me any more than normal.

But Sunday wasn’t the same story. I wasn’t back to square one, or even in a whole lot of pain. But it was worse than before, and I think since it’s been so long and we were finally making some progress it just pushed me over the edge mentally. It felt like a huge deal, and I was so depressed. I started thinking I would never get better (sometimes I still do). Every step made me feel sick to my stomach, not from extreme pain, but just because there was pain—more than there had been. And it was my fault.

It still wasn’t as good as it had been by the time I went to physical therapy on Tuesday. I got a “custom” insert in my shoe. It’s just a piece of foam with a hole cut about where my foot is lumpy, which was supposed to take the pressure off the irritated area. Turns out I can’t feel the hole at all, let alone tell if it’s in the right place…but the squishiness does feel kind of good.

And of course, the day after I went to physical therapy my foot decides it’s better. I even ran on the treadmill again on Wednesday—a whole 8 minutes this time. As soon as I got back to my dorm I stuck a water bottle in the freezer, anticipating trouble…but I didn’t need it! In fact, after my last class yesterday I walked all the way to the pool without any pain at all.

Unfortunately these pain-free episodes don’t last. It did start bugging me again when I left the pool. But that’s okay, because it was only really bothersome—not painful. I guess that’s progress.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jelly Beans, Anyone?

When I went to physical therapy on Wednesday, my therapist took one look at my foot and said it was less swollen. “Tell me what you think,” he said.

I looked. And I was astonished. Because it was less swollen. Usually when the swelling seems to disappear, it’s in the morning. By the end of the day it’s back. I had been walking to and from class all day, I’d “snuck” another run on the treadmill on Monday (is it really sneaking if you tell people about it?), and I’d run halfway home from the Natatorium that morning.

The swelling hadn’t completely disappeared, but it wasn’t, as my physical therapist put it, “popping out.” He also compared it to jelly beans. I thought it was rather bigger (and more painful) than a jelly bean, but to each his own. At least I seem to be making progress.

When I asked about my other foot he said it’s not uncommon to have hypersensitivity in both feet. The “itchiness” I described was apparently nerve-related. He gave me a stretch for the entire nervous system: Laying on my side, I put one leg straight out off the edge of the bed and raise my arm up and back. Then I pump the foot up and down. I can feel it all the way from my arch to my pinky finger. (I tried unsuccessfully to find pictures of this one, since it’s somewhat difficult to describe.)

The best part is I think it’s helping. Yes, it’s slightly painful because I’m not very flexible. But when I got up this morning I put my feet down cautiously and…nothing. Which is great, because on Wednesday after that physical therapy appointment, I ran a whole five minute on the treadmill and even got myself up to 5 mph at the end. I’m starting to feel like running (for real) might not be impossible after all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Am I Just Paranoid?

The outdoor pool closed on Sunday. I am now trying not to be depressed that aside from horseback riding, I now have no outdoor activities. I miss being able to smell the damp trees in the morning and feel the sun and the breeze. I even miss having wet socks after a thunderstorm. But only a very little bit.
For the past week I’ve been having issues with my right foot. Last Tuesday it was a little sore. It felt a bit like it did after I tried running on the track—only then I figured it was because going three miles mostly on your toes is bound to make you sore in weird places. I also figured that if my left heel hadn’t felt ready to explode, that arch would have been sore too. So I didn’t worry about it, and it went away in about a week.

The best way I can describe it is like an itch, only under the skin. Sometimes when I twist my foot around in certain ways I can feel a pull. It’s not really painful as much as annoying—and worrying. I know I’m paranoid now because of my other foot problems, so I can’t tell if I’m making a big deal out of something normal or if I really should be concerned. I guess the best I can do is mention it in physical therapy tomorrow.

As for the left foot, it’s about the same as last week. Although the sensitive spot seems to have moved back toward the heel now, and I occasionally get a pull near the front of my arch. I’m hoping this is an indication that I simply overstressed both feet (although I haven’t done anything different) and it’s just harder to tell in the left foot with all the other stuff that’s going on there.
In the meantime, I’m staying in the pool and on the bike, and waiting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Peaks and Valleys

One of the most frustrating things—if not the most frustrating thing—about this plantar fasciitis (if that’s what it is, since I don’t think my therapist has completely ruled out a stress fracture) is the random fluctuations. At least, they seem random to me. There are peaks where I feel almost normal and then valleys when I wonder if I ever will.

Sometimes the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other in a single day. I walked back from the pool today thinking I must just be imagining things, because I felt fine. But earlier in the day I sat in class, and just raising my heel off the floor and twisting my foot a bit, I could get a little twinge just in front of my heel.

It almost seems easier to walk fast. Maybe I don’t have as much time to register the pain that way. Or maybe it changes the way I bear weight on my feet. Either way, it struck me as odd when I really got to thinking about it.

Anyway, since Saturday I really haven’t had an entire day that felt good. Although while walking on the treadmill yesterday, I got to thinking…I’m only going 4 miles an hour…if I just change the way I walk so that I was actually kind of running, would that really count? So I did. Actually got up to 4.5 mph. The treadmill was on a fairly steep incline, so I think that helped. And I wasn’t really running. But at least it wasn’t walking, biking, or swimming either. I called it quits after three minutes. I still remember what it was like after I ran on the track last month. I hope I never have to do that again.
I had physical therapy again today. We worked on balance exercises and some strengthening stuff. A lot of walking backwards with my heels off the ground. I know how I’ll be getting to the bathroom for the next week or so! It’s just a good thing Penn State’s dorms have an “acceptance” policy—I’m pretty sure people who walk backwards down the halls are in the minority.

Hoping to climb out of this valley soon!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Wrinkly Foot

I got on the stationary bike this morning and felt…nothing.

Ever since my therapist mentioned the possibility of a stress fracture on Thursday, I’ve been paranoid. I felt a delayed sting every time I stepped down on my heel a little harder than usual. I imagined the pain was different than it had been at first—not the burning, pulling of the muscle but a deeper ache. I was afraid that we’d been wrong the whole time.

I was on the bike last night, and could feel it if I pushed the pedal at a certain angle. Then, suddenly, this morning I was fine. When I got done I immediately took off my socks and started poking the bottom of my foot. It only hurt if I pressed really hard (which I only did once). And the best part? My foot was wrinkly.

That’s definitely better than the taut, swollen lump I had before. I’m hoping this means we’re doing something right. Just walking around the house today felt pretty good. The best way I can describe it is a twinge or pinch when I lift my heel off the ground. And the weird thing is, I can do heel raises just fine—it’s only when I walk.

This whole thing really boggles my mind. But I definitely have a much greater appreciation for how complex your feet are—and how much you need them for everyday life!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wet Socks

One more thing to add to the list of things I hate about plantar fasciitis: Wet socks.

Since the pf showed up, I haven’t worn anything except my Asics Gels (I have two pairs and I rotate them). I used to have these cute pony rain boots for walking to class when it rained, but I cringe just thinking about walking any distance in them. I need my orthopedic Crocs just to get to the bathroom!!

Anyway, with the massive amounts of rain we’ve gotten these past few days, my feet are permanently wet—and cold. So much for only going through one pair of socks per day since I’m not running! Just walking back from the Nat yesterday morning—couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes—I soaked my favorite pair of shoes in a river/lake that was running across the sidewalk. They’re still wet.

Just another reason to get this cleared up ASAP, I guess. I went to physical therapy this afternoon, and this time I could actually say that I’m feeling better! I do kind of feel like I’ve hit a wall, though; I wish I could have kept improving, but seem to have stopped just short of feeling ready to get back to it. My therapist mentioned getting an MRI if it doesn’t keep getting better—he was suspicious of the swelling and thought it could have been a stress fracture, even though I had been running on it for a couple months. I think he was almost relieved when I said I felt better than last week. I can imagine this whole thing is frustrating for him too! Oh well, I guess every small step counts! Keep hanging in there!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just Don't Think!

Doesn't sound like good advice for a college student, does it? Maybe I need to qualify that statement.

I woke up this morning and walked to the bathroom without even thinking about it. I noticed I’ve been doing that a lot frequently—I’ll get up and walk a short distance, get wherever I’m going and then think, Wait, did that hurt? And I can’t remember that it did. I’m not sure if this happens because I’m so used to the pain, or if it really is getting better. Either way, I’m taking it as a positive sign that it doesn’t bother me when I’m not thinking about it. Maybe that’s the key.

I’ve been walking around (and stationary biking) all morning almost comfortably. My foot almost seems determined to make me a liar. The whole time at physical therapy on Tuesday, we experimented with forms of heel raises and toe walking that didn’t cause me pain. The only versions that fit the criteria involved me clinging to a pole or leaning on a flat surface for dear life, supporting most of my body weight on my hands. It was really more of an upper-body workout than anything for the feet/legs.
But now, feeling slightly foolish, I can do them without holding on to anything. Yesterday I did 60. (I got way too excited over that little accomplishment.) In fact I was doing them without support the day after my appointment. I don’t quite know what to make of it.

I’ll mention it when I go back on Thursday. So far, I think this is the best I’ve felt, at least since trying to run again. (I don’t remember too well before that.) We did try a different taping method this week, so maybe that has helped. I’m trying to keep it on until I go back, but I tend to swim right out of it if I kick hard. We’ll see how things go, I guess. I go to the doctor on Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to see what he says, too. Although I’m starting to feel like I’m becoming the kind of person insurance companies dread.

In the meantime, I try not to overthink it—I just get more frustrated! Sometimes I wish I lived in Star Trek, with those whirring thingies that heal broken bones in two minutes. Or Harry Potter. Oh, excuse me, now I want to go read the whole series…again….

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

None the Worse for the Wear

Good day all around for the foot—I got my ice tray filled up with water and stuck it in the freezer last night in anticipation, but it’s still wonderfully full! When I woke up I had a harder time walking than usual, but the burning worked itself out a bit and I have been walking as close to pain-free as I’ve been since my “return” to running (and subsequent re-retirement—I’m feeling like Brett Favre). I even did some unassisted heel raises—no leaning on the counter to take most of the weight off.

Felt great walking back from the Nat—there’s something about the water that gets the ligaments moving without putting weight on them and making them hurt. Plus, I feel much less dorky bobbing along while everybody swims. The guy I shared a lane with today commented on how hard it must be without a belt. I told him it got easier after the first few times. All he said was, “I’m in awe of your workout.” I didn’t tell him that I’m in awe of his—I still can’t keep up a long swim.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Doggy-Paddle Olympics and Fun in the Parking Lot

Two hours ago, I ran across the parking lot and back—which included down two flights of steps. The best part is that I’m still walking on my own two feet. Maybe a little more tender than usual, but I can’t tell if that’s a mental thing. It is nice to know that my body still remembers how!

I’ve been water jogging the past two days—about half shallow and half deep. The only pool I have access to before class is shallow, so I do that in the mornings and then beltless deep water running in the early afternoon, when the Natatorium opens up. I like the shallow running because it does have some impact, and I can use it to build up some running muscles (or at least keep them from disappearing completely), but I’ve found it doesn’t get my heart rate up. So I do the deep-water running for cardio. When my schedule doesn’t fit with the pool’s, I hop on the bike.

I’ve found it challenging to maintain “running” form without the belt in deep water. At first I felt like my legs were too far out behind me. It’s gotten easier to stay vertical (at least is feels vertical) in the water. Today a guy thought I was somebody else who was training for the Olympics, so I guess I must be close to right. I don’t think they have an Olympic doggy-paddle event. :)

Physical therapy today was more stretching and strengthening—no more ultrasound. We’ve now added heel raises to work up to running on my toes, which is what I tried before with such disastrous results. Today’s parking lot adventure was just ordinary old heel-strike.

My therapist started out by asking me how I felt about my overall progress—was it the same, worse, or better? I had to think a while about the answer. I used to be able to run on it, and then it would be a little sore later—never the throbbing or pounding, and never for more than a day. On the other hand, sometimes walking is now totally pain free. I ended up saying slightly better, although I’m not sure if that’s from the therapy or just because I’m spending less time doing activities that would make me feel the pain. For now I’ll just try to stay hopeful that the physical therapy is really making a difference.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back to Biking

I’ve been home for the weekend, since I rarely go anywhere other than the barn those days and it’s right down the road from my house. I guess I live a sort of double life, but it saves a lot more gas than if I stayed on campus. Unfortunately, it also means I’m not within walking distance of a swimming pool.

Anyway, with hurricane Irene dumping rain on us last night and most of this morning, I’ve been on the stationary bike. I have a love-hate relationship with said bike. I really appreciate the fact that I have some form of exercise readily available, but at the same time I get bored easily. And after a week off from it, and now two days on, my butt and back are really protesting. (It’s a recumbent, so I lean against the chair back.) It makes sitting in the saddle a bit uncomfortable, but I didn’t let that stop me!

Aside from occasional twinges, my foot felt fine on both the horse and the bike. I have to be careful how I use it, though. If I put too much of my foot on the pedal, I get pressure on the heel and it hurts. Also—and I’m not quite sure why—using my spurs while riding also gives me a little pull in the sore area. I guess it’s the motion of twisting my heel up to jab Sydney in the ribs…it’s sort of like standing on your toes, which I still can’t quite manage pain-free. If only my horse weren’t so lazy… :)

On the other hand, I got up to get a drink last night and didn’t even think about walking until I was back in bed. I remember just a few weeks ago I had to practically hang off the banister every other step. I had a really hard time not waking up the whole house!

I feel like the swollen spot is a little harder today, but still not as lumpy or hard as it started out. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, because it feels like one wrong move and I’ll be right back at square one again.
Either way, I’ll be back in the pool tomorrow! And with physical therapy scheduled for Tuesday, hopefully we’ll see some progress!

Be patient, keep fighting!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Intro and Summary

My sister told me blogging about my foot is just weird, but I know from extensive Googling on the subject that so many people suffer from plantar fasciitis. I don’t really care if no one ever reads this blog, but I hope it will help me keep track of my progress so that I can better describe it to my physical therapist. Even more, I need something to help me deal with this debilitating injury, and I hope this could be it.

For this first post, I just want to summarize my experience so far with PF. I’ve been an avid runner (12 miles/day on average) for about five years. The only thing in my life to equal my love of running is my love of horses. Up until six weeks ago, I couldn’t have imagined my life without either one.

Anyway, about three months ago, I stepped on a rock during one of my long runs (about 20 miles). Seeing as I do this kind of thing all the time, I just kept going. The foot (left) felt fine for about a week, then I had a very slight pain like a bruise, on the inside of my arch, just in front of the heel. I kept running, because it didn’t affect my gait very much.

I don’t really remember it getting progressively worse, until one morning after my run I could hardly walk. I started searching the Internet and came across plantar fasciitis, stories of runners who had kept running through it, and specific exercises to help. I started doing stretches and icing, and rolling a frozen water bottle under my foot. It got a little better, but I felt it when I ran and when I walked, almost constantly. I (stupidly) kept up my usual routine, until I sprained my left ankle.

At least, that’s what the nurse practitioner said. It was actually the bottom edge of the outside of my foot that hurt. Either way, I was in a CAM boot for a week, which aggravated the PF. I was referred to physical therapy as soon as the boot came off.

When I met with the physical therapist, we both agreed that the real problem was the PF. The range of motion in my left ankle was noticeably poor compared to the other side, and I think it was from trying to protect the painful arch every time I stepped on that foot. Anyway, I’ve been in physical therapy for about five weeks now, doing a number of exercises, both stretching and strengthening. We have also tried some different taping techniques (although I swam right out of the latest one).

In the third week he cleared me to run, only a few miles, on a track with plenty of stretching before and after and trying to run on my toes. This only resulted in a depressing backslide that was worse than before I’d started therapy. My foot throbbed even when I wasn’t doing anything. Unable to face the stationary bike or riding the horses, I confined myself to the pool for a while. I haven’t run since, unless you count across the street on my way to class.

As of right now, the swelling on the bottom of my foot is no longer hard, but squishy. I’m not even sure it’s still swollen, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. Pushing off when I walk is still slightly painful, but I’d guess I’m about where I was before I attempted to run again. At my last session my physical therapist tried ultrasound, which seems to have helped.

In the meantime, I’ve taken up biking, swimming, and water-jogging (both deep and shallow water). I can still ride my horses, which I’m so grateful for as they are my sanity when school gets tough. I’ve learned that I’m really not as terrible a biker as I used to think, and that swimming makes your arms really sore if you haven’t done it in years. But I’m still waiting for the day I can run again.