I’m a bit glad I was too lazy to write this post until today, because now I’m actually feeling pretty optimistic about the state of my posterior tibial tendinitis. If I had written this on Wednesday or earlier, my frustration at lack-of-improvement would have made for a pretty whiny post.
Now, I’m still frustrated as I haven’t run in 18 days and am unsure of when I can officially ease back in, but Thursday was the first day I actually felt a noticeable improvement in level of pain (!!!!!) Most noticeably, I can now walk kind of normally without sharp pain or compensating to avoid putting weight evenly on my left foot. There is still dull pain in the tendon and my plantar, but it’s definitely not excruciating like before.
I’m not out of the clear yet, but I am hopeful that it’s moving in the right direction. For about two weeks, there were zero signs of improvement– sometimes even worsening– despite not running, constant icing, stretching, ART/Graston, and trying to stay off it as much as possible. My frustration was beginning to turn into a bit of despair at not knowing how long this was going to take– another week? Another month? Another four months? I still don’t know how long it’ll take to fully heal, but this drastic improvement helps the light at the end of the tunnel seem a little closer.
So, needless to say I won’t be racing the NYC Half Marathon tomorrow as anticipated…for the second year in a row due to injuries. It’s depressing to total how much money I’ve spent on entry fees for races I haven’t run (Chicago ’12 and ’13, NYC Half ’13 and ’14, Philly Rock ‘N Roll Half ’12 and ’13…the list goes on) My collection of t-shirts for races I haven’t run is growing quite impressive! And let’s not get started on the doctor and PT co-pays. Since I’m currently funemployed, this one stings a bit more.
However, I love to run and compete. It keeps me motivated and feeling most like myself after all these years. There are bound to be ups and downs. I wouldn’t say frequent injuries are typical for me, because I’ve never been this chronically injured my entire running career, but I’m unfortunately in a ‘down’ phase now. If getting back to the ‘up’ means spending $$ to get healthy, it’s worth it to me.
Since I’m hoping to be healthy for Boston on 4/21, I’ve been trying to treat this injury pretty aggressively and give it the rest it needs. I don’t care if I am completely out of shape and undertrained, I want to be able to run (not race) Boston pain-free and experience the day on the course. I think I’ll be majorly, majorly bummed if it turns out I’m stuck on the sidelines.
So I’ve been seeing Dr. Levine for ART & Graston twice a week (highly recommend!), and just started to see a new-to-me PT, Marisa at Dash PT. Along with wanting to kick this tendinitis, I decided I’d like to get to the root of why I continue to get injured so frequently lately. I don’t think I’ve been able to run more than 3 months consecutively over the last 1.5 years; I’d really like to figure this out so I can finally stay out of the doctor’s office and stay on the roads.
Marisa noticed I have pretty narrow feet with high arches– something I have never been told before. I’m not sure if this is the whole injury picture, but it is likely a large piece of the pie. I’ve been running in custom orthotics since I was 17, which I get re-cast every few years. The orthotics, combined with my not-narrow-enough shoes, weren’t supporting my arch enough. From how I understand it, when the arch is unsupported, it puts more strain on the tendons around it and your bones, muscles, etc. This likely led to my tendinitis and probably my stress fracture in the fall, too. (Note: clearly I’m not a doctor or PT, but this is generally how I’ve understood what she’s told me! I could be totally misinterpreting it…oops)
I’m not sure why my custom orthotics weren’t supporting enough, but I last had them cast in 2011 (I think?) so perhaps things have just changed over time. An easy fix is to insert in one or two of these stick-in arch supports atop the orthotic. Also, I should wear sneakers in a narrow (2A) width versus regular (B) width. She explained that most female runners with smaller figures probably need to be in a narrow shoe more often than not, so it’s worth getting checked out if you feel your foot isn’t getting the stability/support it needs if the shoe is too wide. Until I get my shoes, she showed me how to lace up my current sneakers to provide a bit more support– they just go up a bit higher into those loops that nobody typically uses.
Lastly, she gave me the green light to try cross-training if it didn’t hurt my foot. For the first 12 days or so, I hadn’t even attempted to cross-train because I was too scared to make it worse. I’ve found that easy biking doesn’t hurt, and today I was finally able to elliptical without feeling anything. Hooray! I’m not doing it frequently or long enough to maintain or gain fitness, just enough to break some sort of sweat more often than not. 40 minutes seems to be my mental max before I want to gauge my eyes out when cross-training.
So, I’m hoping for continued improvement. Unsure when I’ll be back on the bridle, but it’s beginning to feel like a near possibility. For tomorrow, I’m excited to cheer on my friends and teammates running the Half! I’m planning to be around 34th street on the WSH– near mile 8.5. Good luck to everyone racing, it should be a beautiful day!