“Stubborn experiments to help you avoid the doctor and stay injured for months!”
Who’s coming with me?
If you’ve been reading my posts, you may recall that I’ve been complaining about pain in my Achilles tendon ever since my last really good race, the Bayshore Half Marathon in Traverse City. I was starting to have some discomfort early in the race, but things loosened up, and I had a great run overall. However, since then the problem has nagged despite some of the random tactics I’ve tried.
I have cut back on mileage dramatically (although I haven’t gone more than a week without a run altogether). I’ve tried massage, calf raises, eccentric calf raises, stretching, foam rolling, walk breaks, and ignoring the problem.
Recently I tried to call a physical therapist. I was immediately deterred when I found out I would need a physician’s referral, and with renewed enthusiasm, I have vowed to heal this injury on my own. (Unless I get to January and still have problems – then maybe my New Year’s Resolution will be to call a professional.)
So here’s my plan:
- Low mileage – I thought I could get away with maybe 12 miles a week, but I tried that last week and didn’t have much luck. I’m thinking we’re going to start at 9. That’s three 30 minute runs for me.
- No consecutive days of running.
- No increases in mileage until I’ve gone a week completely pain free – I’ll record my experience every day in my log.
- Warm-ups – I will walk and stretch for five minutes before starting a run.
- Cool-downs – I will save time for an appropriate cool-down that includes stretching.
- Foam rolling – I will foam roll at least daily, especially after a run.
- Eccentric calf raises – I will start with a daily set of 10 single leg eccentric calf raises, using my other leg to raise back to the starting position.
- Ice – I will ice on days that I’ve run.
- Compression socks during runs
- Cross-training – I will include other activities (biking, weight training and yoga) to meet my exercise requirements for the week since I’m not allowing myself as many minutes of running as I’d like. I’ll focus on strengthening the other muscles of my core and legs.
I don’t mean to minimize the value of doctors and physical therapists. As a healthcare professional myself, I obviously believe there’s a difference between information found on the internet and information learned from someone who went through post-graduate training to become an expert in fixing your particular problem.
In this case, however, I also don’t want to diminish the value of all the information at our fingertips. The internet does have a wealth of information available from reliable sources like the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and more. Since we’re not talking about a life or death problem here, I’m thinking that it would be worthwhile to take advantage of some of this advice and see whether I can make a difference on my own.
I think that my first attempts at healing myself were failures because I wasn’t very systematic about it. I tried a little thing here or there, but I didn’t plan, I didn’t record my results, I didn’t hold myself accountable to a routine or schedule. I was very arbitrary. One of the valuable things that a doctor or physical therapist often adds to the equation is accountability. They spell out in very clear terms precisely what they expect you to do, and you know that you’ll have a follow-up visit to tell them whether you followed their instructions. Then, when you haven’t followed the directions, you’ll be forced to confront the reality: your body isn’t failing you – you’re just failing to do your best for your body.
So, I think I’ll use blogging as my accountability for the rest of 2017. I’ll be reporting back in two more weeks, and I will answer to my long list of commitments to healing this tendon. And I’ll also commit to making that doctor’s appointment in January if I’m still struggling. There, now I said it.
Ok, I’m off to try my first run in compression socks. Wish me well!!