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Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

Muscles are crazy.

According to the sports medicine doctor, my main problem in running is overpronation. (Well, and overtraining which made my overpronation problems particularly bad).

So here’s the deal: When most people walk and run, they strike the ground with their heel and the roll their foot forward. Rolling from heel-to-toe often starts slightly on the outside of the heel, but ideally ends towards the middle of the front-foot (from my understanding). As an overpronator, I’m rolling from the heel to the toe, but rolling my foot too far inwards, causing it too collapse a great deal, and causing stress on my muscles.

Overpronation in pictures
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So how does what I’m doing in my feet cause stress in my shin muscle? Well, here’s the crazy part. The muscle that’s involved in my problem runs from below the knee, down into the foot. So when my foot is collapsing, it’s pulling on the muscle. And that’s why I’m having pain. (The muscle involved is called the “tibialis posterior.” So now you know).

Here it is. The posterior tibialis.
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Yep, those are the interesting facts about my shin problems. This is also why some people go for minimalist running; by not wearing shoes, they stop heel-striking altogether, therefore preventing injuries such as the one that I’m currently recovering from.

So…at my doctor’s suggestion, I get to wear orthotics. I just think that word is so funny, because it makes me think that I’m a very dorky girl. Like Forrest Gump. I’m sure the Forrest Gump had to wear orthotics.

I’m still really hoping for a quick recovery, but I’m beginning to realize that EVERYTHING seems to exacerbate the problem. The doctor told me no elliptical, no hiking, and no doing anything that makes them hurt. Well, I figured since I’ve been doing the elliptical and hiking that by stopping the problem would be better in no time.

Wrong. Because even the seated exercise bike seems to irritate my shins. And swimming might cause a problem too. I’m not sure. That’s the other problem. I can’t necessarily figure out what activities cause problems since I’m always active. Yesterday my shins hurt badly when I woke up. The night before I had done biking and swimming. So which one is causing the problem? I have no idea. It’s very confusing. Perhaps I should just lie in bed for the next few weeks and never move in order to improve the problem.

This stinks.

But muscles are interesting!!!

Do you already know all about muscles? Do you think I look like Forrest Gump with my orthotics in?

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Given my new instructions to not use the elliptical, Husband Saign and I had to take the plunge and get a legit gym membership at a gym with a pool.

It’s very exciting! Here are my new treats I had to get:

 

Yep. Just when you thought maybe I wasn’t that ridiculous, I take a photo like this, and you have to acknowledge…I am pretty much completely ridiculous.
Also, this is my 2nd pair of goggles. The first pair I wore to the gym one day and promptly lost them.

Sadly, because of my shins, there’s a ton of stuff I can’t do at the gym.

Here’s a list of what I can do:

  1. swim
  2. yoga
  3. bike
  4. upper body/core strength/lifting

Yep. A sad list of 4 things.

Here’s a list of the things I’m looking forward to doing when I get better:

  1. RUN! (Most important!)
  2. zumba
  3. rock climbing
  4. kickboxing
  5. spinning (I should be able to do this now, but so far it’s exacerbated my shin pain)
  6. lower body strength/lifting (My shins hurt so badly from doing legs this weekend that I realized I shouldn’t be lifting with my legs)

I’m so excited! I hate paying for a gym membership, but I really enjoy having a gym membership!

What’s your favorite thing to do at the gym? Any ideas of things I can do that don’t have the potential to hurt my shins?

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Over It…

At first not being able to run while my shins recover was novel. Even kind of fun. I got to do tons of sewing, read a book, and even sat around.

Doing a little reading.

It was lovely.

Well, I’m over that. I want to run. I’m irritated because I can’t workout. I really, really think I can feel the muscles fading from my legs. (Is that paranoia? Because I think it’s real).
The ideal thing to do when recovering from a shin injury is supposed to be swimming. But I don’t have a gym membership. I also am allowed to ride an exercise bike. Again, no gym membership. So I’m doing strength training. But I just want to run. And dance. And bounce around.

Sigh…

Sorry to be whiney. I’m open to suggestions of low impact workouts that will work my legs and/or cardiovascular system. I’ve been a little paranoid, but I think today I’m going to have to at least do some (gentle) squats and lunges. I’m going crazy here!

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Silly shins

So…as I write this, I’m in a terrible place…

20120427-151053.jpg

That’s right, the Urgent Care waiting room.

In my effort to allow my shins to heal, I only went on two short runs this week.

I thought I was doing my body good, but I replaced my running with a little of Jillian Michael’s 3-2-1 plan. For those of you not in the know, the “2” in the 3-2-1 plan means 2 minutes of cardio…and in my case, I was doing some sort of bouncy cardio move when I felt something sudden and painful in my right shin.

Are you kidding me? I injured myself when I was trying to take things easy?

I was ready to believe that my shin pain was just plain old shin splints, but a quick consult with Dr. Google led me to the concern that my shin pain is too localized to be simple shin splints. So…I’m here to get a stress fracture ruled out.

My fear is that the doctor will tell me, “It’s probably shin splints,” and send me home without doing a full assessment. Let’s hope he/she is more helpful than that! But, let’s also hope that it IS just shin splints since the recovery will be much faster if that is the case!

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Taking it Easy

I’ve decided to take things easy after my shins started acting up last week. On Thursday they started bothering me, so I didn’t run on Friday or Saturday.

I think this may be a very primitive way to ice, but it's what I've been doing. The only problem is: How will I ice after I've eaten these peas?

I decided to run on Sunday, but to keep it short. Once I started running, I didn’t want to stop, but I showed some self-control and kept it to 3.5 miles.

Here’s my plan right now:

  1. Pull back on running. This means no long run this week, no speed work, and no thinking about speed. Just running to stay in shape and have fun.
  2. Ice it! I’ve been icing my shins after most runs, but now I’m going to ice it after work as well.
  3. Do a little warm-up and stretch. I typically don’t stretch until after my run. I’m going to start doing some stretches after a warm-up to see if that helps.
  4. Take vitamins. This may be ridiculous, but I have them sitting around, so I might as well use them…they probably won’t hurt, eh?

So, that’s the action plan right now! Let’s hope for some amazing healing!

Any other suggestions for how to help my little shins?

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Sock Skeptic

Once upon a time, approximately 10 years ago, I worked at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities. It was a pretty fun job. Most of our residents had certain “Occupational Goals” that we had to help them meet…such as walking in their walker for a certain amount of time, or spending time listening to a book.

Well, one day a physical therapist added a new occupational goal for one of our residents. This resident was to wear “compression socks” for a certain amount of time each day. I was the one who had brought this resident to the physical therapist appointment when this goal was assigned, and I was not impressed. I remember the physical therapist took very little time to actually interact with the resident, and I felt confused about what service she had actually provided. To have her add a goal of him wearing super expensive socks that were (as far as I could tell) just normal socks, made me particularly skeptical. I even remember asking the nurse what the socks were supposed to do, and she said something about how they were supposed to increase circulation. I remember just thinking, “Um, those are just ridiculously expensive socks, they’re not magic.” But the nurse and my supervisor insisted that these silly looking knee socks were quite important.

Enter March 2012, when I decided to run my first full marathon, and made more of an effort to learn about the sport.

I was surprised when on running blog after running blog I heard about “compression socks.” Oh great! It had moved beyond that crazy physical therapist in Minnesota, and now apparently the entire running world believed in these magic socks?

I was skeptical but curious…was it possible that socks could actually help with running? How were they supposed to help?

Then, Katie commented on a post I had written about my shins hurting, and suggested I address the issue with compression calf sleeves.

What? This compression stuff could help with my shin pain? Oh dang, now things are getting really crazy!

Well, I was really, really super curious after learning that, so I did some research and learned what compression socks could allegedly help with.

Again, I was curious, but still skeptical.

So, what’s an academic skeptic to do? Find a scholarly article that addresses the issue, of course! My research led me to a peer-reviewed (of course) article that indicates that compression does, in fact, help with running in a number of ways!

Kemmler, W., Von Stengel, S., Kockritz, C., Mayhew, J., Wassermann, A., & Zapf, J. (2009). Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23: 101-105

Oh my goodness, this isn’t about crazy people believing in magic socks! This is legitimate stuff here! I can’t wait to try a pair…after I stop hyperventilating about the price.

This is what I will look like in compression socks. There is a heart next to my shins because they are happy.

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Running Sick

Evidence indicates that my review of the ice bath may have been completely invalid.

“What evidence?” You may ask.

Well, I spent much of Sunday shivering in a similar manner to how I had shivered after my ice bath on Saturday…the only thing was, on Sunday, there was no ice bath. Or really anything that should have been making me cold. I was just shivering, and unable to warm myself. So my uncontrollable shivering after taking the ice bath may not be a typical response. It may be because I’m sick.

I’m not the type who stops working out just because I’m sick. Don’t they usually say that exercising improves the immune system? If I just have a cold, I’ll run anyway. But shivering when it doesn’t make sense to be cold makes me think that my body is having difficulty regulating my temperature, so in cases such as this, I think it best to avoid activities that will raise my body heat.

While I had planned to do strength training on Sunday, I decided that this was a bad idea. The only exercise I did was take Ada the Dog for a walk. Which I did in a snowboarding jacket and thick sweatpants. In 60 degree weather. I’m sure my neighbors were impressed with my fashion choices. While walking I had the fun experience of feeling both hot and cold at the same time. Oh joy.

This is what I felt like on Sunday. (I changed out of sweatpants and into a fancy red dress while I laid around the house shivering and feeling miserable).

Right now I’m hoping this doesn’t keep me from running for too long! Here’s hoping that I feel better by tomorrow! But for right now, I think shivering serves as a clue that running might not be such a good idea.

How do you decide when your sick enough to stay in from a workout?

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Ice Bath!!!

I took my first ice bath. Oh, what an experience it was.

I took this ice bath seriously, I wanted to do it right! I was very strategic. The point of an ice bath is to help with recovery…of my legs. So, my goal was to let me legs get cold, but to keep everything else warm. I read about people wearing jackets while in the ice bath, but that just didn’t make sense to me. Not only did I not particularly want to have to deal with a wet jacket, but I also didn’t really think a soaking wet jacket would keep me all that warm.

Luckily, modern technology was on my side. In the form of a wetsuit. My plan was to wear my wetsuit gloves and booties to keep my hands and feet warm, and to wear the top half (i.e. put my arms through the armholes) of my wetsuit to keep my core warm. I also planned to wear a winter hat.

I was super disappointed when I couldn’t find my booties before I left for my run. (On the bright side, I was able to find my snowboarding socks, which have been missing since we moved here 6 months ago).

When I returned from my run, I grabbed my ice and headed to the bathroom. I stuck my arms through the armholes of my wetsuit, put on my wetsuit gloves, and began filling the tub with cold water.

I stepped into the cold water with my dirty running socks on, and started screaming. Ack! It was COLD!

Here my dirty socks are (not my wetsuit booties) as the tub fills. i read that if you get in the tub while it's filling, it helps ease you into the cold.

After the initial shock, I was able to calm myself and convince myself to sit down. After sitting, I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Yes, I was shivering a little at first, but soon that stopped and everything was okay.

I wanted to make sure the tub was the right temperature, so I used a kitchen thermometer to measure the water temperature. To my surprise, it was the appropriate therapeutic temperature without ice!

According to the ice bath experts at Runner's World, A therapeutic bath should be between 50-60 degrees farenheit. I didn't even need to add ice to get there!

I decided to add just a little bit of ice, mostly just so that I wouldn’t be lying when I said I took an “Ice bath,” though I did rub the ice a little bit on my shins, as those seem to be my problem area these days.

Yep, here I am with my arms through my wetsuit (it really helped to keep me warm!), my wetsuit gloves, and a winter hat on

After 20 minutes, I decided that my time was up, and I climbed out of the bath. I took off my wetsuit, and THAT is when the really unpleasant part began. I began to shiver and shiver and shiver. The wetsuit had apparently made a huge difference for me! I didn’t want to take a warm shower right away, as the whole point of an ice bath is too keep muscles cold even AFTER leaving the bath.

I forced myself to sit shivering for 30 minutes in my living room before I allowed myself a warm shower.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Ice baths aren’t so bad
  2. Ice baths need not include ice
  3. Wetsuits help make ice baths much more comfortable
  4. When using the wetsuit technique, the unpleasant part occurs after the wetsuit is removed.

Obviously I could just leave my wetsuit on until I’m ready to take a hot shower…except then I’d get the rest of my house all wet. If I was going to stay in my wetsuit, I’d have to stay in the bathroom, which sounds really boring to me!

Next week: I’ll do it again!

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Ice Bath???

I began running when I was 18-years-old, and have been running ever since. (Though I admit, from September 2011-February 2012, my frequency and distance was pretty sad). Running has never been complicated for me, I’ve just done what felt right and never worked too hard at it. That is, until my recent discovery that I was out of shape, and my new desire to run my first full marathon.

Because running has been a natural thing for me, I find that as I’m working to get better and stronger, there’s a lot I don’t know. For me until now, it’s always been about having running shoes and heart and that was about it. I didn’t worry about injuries, because I never really had any (except once when I ran a few miles on sand – OUCH!).

Well, now that I’ve discovered how my strength has diminished, I’m motivated to get strong again. Which means that I’m going beyond what feels comfortable and natural, setting goals for myself, and hoping to improve. This new effort also includes new risk: Injuries.

Like I said, I’ve never had running injuries before, so I haven’t had to think much about how to mend them. But last week my shin started to hurt, and I knew that it was probably because I’ve been pushing myself harder than I really need to. I didn’t really know what to do about the shin other than to not run on it. I decided to take a day off, and it felt much better the following day…until after my run the following day, when it hurt again. Thankfully, someone told me to ice it. I have never iced anything other than a burn or a bump, so I honestly did not realize that icing my shin might help. After my next run, I put a bag of frozen peas on my shin, and found that it felt just fine, and I was able to run again the next day…followed by more frozen peas.

I began to wonder if it made sense to ice a potential injury…I mean, I knew that it hurt the week before, but does it really make sense to ice something that might be just fine?

A little bit of googling led me to two helpful articles. They indicate that not only does it make sense to ice a potential injury, it’s even better to do an ice bath rather than simply applying ice. Supposedly ice baths assist with repair and reduce risk of injury! Perfect!

This is what my face will look like when I sit in freezing cold water. Eeek!

My plan right now is to continuing icing the shin after my weekday training runs, and to try my first ice bath this weekend after my long run. It sounds terribly uncomfortable, but if it keeps me strong and healthy, I think it will be worth it! (I’ll report back on how I feel about the worth of an ice bath after my first one this weekend!)

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