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.