I’m rabbiting on about my feet for the last few weeks and after a bit of a pity party (I can only apologise profusely!), I decided to flip this whole injury experience into a bit of a documentary and something to get stuck into, rather than stuck under. I’ll be writing about my journey through injury, treatment and hopefully HOPEFULLY recovery, in the hope that it may be of use to others and also, in the hope that I might learn more from it.
In my last post, I wrote about ignoring early niggles and warning signs of what turned into be a more serious injury during the time I was training for the recent Paris marathon. I also talked about self-treatment and how I floundered around in the dark for a few weeks, trying to deal with the injury myself, in the hope that some rest and ice would make it go away.
The Injury Of Which I Speak.
3 weeks before the Dublin Marathon 2014 (October), I was coming toward the end of a long run when I felt an almighty pain across the top of my left foot which had been steadily getting worse since about midway through the run. I also felt soreness along the outsides of both feet. Physio examined me and diagnosed “hotspots”, which she explained as borderline stress fractures – areas that had become weakened by continuous overuse on those particular points. She prescribed cycling instead of running, ice baths twice a day and massage of the tender areas. I didn’t run at all during the 2 week taper but ran the marathon, without any pain. I was completely fine thereafter.
March 2016, about 16 months later, I start feeling tenderness in the same areas of my feet again. Very mild to begin with and I figured if I included regular ice baths, foot strengthening exercises and plenty of rest in between runs, it might be okay. Not so much. The soreness very gradually became more acute and occurred more often and I could barely walk after the marathon in April. After full rest for 5.5 weeks, I have not run but the soreness in my feet is something I can still feel even at rest and walking just aggravates it to limping point.
My first port of call was the Chiropodist/ Podiatrist. I’ve been meaning to visit one of these folks for years anyway (cuz I have mangled feet) so if she was able to shed any light on my foot injury issues, then I was happy to give her a shot. I won’t go into gross detail but she made all my calluses and hard skin vanish and my feet are shiny and new, on the outside. As far as my injuries were concerned, she thought that my orthotics might be in need of updating and that an MRI might be a good idea. But she was not in a position to do any assessment and recommended that I see a physiotherapist.
I had my first appointment with the physio this morning and it went well, I think. My physio, Emma, did what physios do and stuck her thumbs into all the tight, tender areas in my feet and worked out the tightness in the joints. She thought that the bottom of my left foot was very tight and tender all along the strip, ie. the plantar fascia, and particularly directly under my middle toes. The outer area of both my left and right foot were also very tight and sore when she worked her fingers over those areas. However, she noted that the right foot was a lot less tight than the left.
Emma the physiotherapist wasn’t able to offer a clear diagnosis, as is often the way with physios, I find, but in her words: “We shouldn’t necessarily jump to it being a stress fracture”, from which of course I heard “It’s not a stress fracture!” – I need to keep reminding myself that’s not what she said…
I asked her a million questions – poor girl probably felt like she was being cross-examined… but in my defence, I was nice about it 🙂 – to try to get her opinion as to what the actual problem might be. Emma thought that my feet appear like they’ve taken quite a pounding with all the running and training and likely just very battered and possibly just quite strained after all that.
From her feel of the feet, she thought it was more likely a soft tissue tenderness and tightness rather than a bone injury.
What the Physio Did.
Emma massaged and manipulated the joints in both feet to loosen out the joints and work through the tight areas. She then placed a wrap around the left foot which sent electric currents around the foot, which she said would help to relax the foot more and should help with reducing some of the pain. She told me I had a high pain threshold, which I’m gonna go ahead and brag about 😉
I have an appointment to return in 2 weeks time where I will see John, the orthotics specialist at the same physio clinic and he will examine my feet again at that point, as well as checking out whether the orthotics may be contributing to my foot pain and whether they need updating. In the meantime, I am to continue to NOT RUN, ice baths every day, calf stretches and use a frozen golf ball to massage the bottom of my feet. She suggested halving the time I spend on the bike at the moment if cycling is aggravating the injury but reassured me that it should be an okay exercise to be doing while injured. Emma thought it would be a good idea to keep up some cardio, even while injured.
Mixed. Obviously, it’s killing me not to be able to run and I may well kill someone else before this injury period is over… but I was so happy today when she suggested that it probably wasn’t a stress fracture. It’s the happiest news I’ve had in months! Yep, that’s how sad my life is 😉 I’m hopeful and optimistic that taking proper rest and following the physio’s prescription will lead to relief and proper healing, which will lead to getting back to running in the not too distant future.
Taking the time to PROPERLY heal and recover now may mean a stronger, better able body for running later. I guess it’s just my body’s way of telling me it reached its limits and needs a break. It’s time to listen to my body and give it whatever it needs.
Also means more time for car karaoke on nice sunny, summer evenings…