Thursday, March 21, 2013

Travel Fail!

I'm not a road warrior. While I used to travel for work maybe three or four times a year, in recent year that has dwindled to really just annually. Not that I'm complaining, but it's clear that I don't have a good plan for training, eating right and otherwise being prepared when on the road.

I arrived here in Phoenix early on Wednesday morning and despite a little sleep and a 4:00 am wake time, I finished my work day, checked into my hotel and was ready to do an easy run.

I put on my shirt, shorts and socks only to discover that I forgot to pack my running shoes. Even if I were not recovering from an injury, there is just no way I'd run bare foot.

This afternoon, I thought about taking a swim, but the pool here at the Biltmore is more suited for play than exercise. I probably could have treated it like an open water swim, but with kids splashing around it just seemed like it would be more trouble than it's worth.

To top it off, I've enjoyed dinners from the California Pizza Kitchen and the Cheesecake Factory which are convenient but not especially healthy.

There's a pretty good chance I'll be back down here in May. If so, I'll be more careful about my packing. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the rest and nice weather before heading back to the cold tomorrow.

Have a great upcoming weekend and thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Holy &@#! That Hurts

I've always thought of myself as someone with an above average pain threshold.  In my 43 years I've endured having my sun burned belly dragged across the coral in Barbados and was still swimming around afterward. I accepted a cortisone shot into the arch of my foot with hardly a complaint. Root canal? No problem.

That was until Thursday when I went to my second physical therapy appointment. No dry needling this time.  If only it was something as pleasant as having a needle stuck into one of my muscles. Instead, my therapist Nick used a plastic edge thing to run down the instances of fibrosis. There's a dearth of good information on the web about my specific condition so unfortunately, I don't have a link. Suffice it to say that fibroids in this instance are small pockets of inflexible muscle that cause more stress on the healthier surrounding tissue.

What to do about such a problem? Apparent,y run this edge (a bit like the back of a comb) over the affected area with a lot and I do mean a lot of pressure! I could feel the small little lumps breaking down as he worked on them. I was told that another factor of the condition is a lack of vascularization in the area which, of course, means less blood flow.

Once he had finished there were several red streaks in the treated area and two days later, I am still sore.

Torture  Raking was not the only treatment we had. There were also some balance exercises at which I was uniformly terrible. The first involved standing, knees slightly bent on an inverted BOSU ball while Nick bounce passed a basketball to me. Not directly to me. No, to the side down low anywhere that involved my losing my balance.

I also did a few minutes on a balance board and then some more on a balance disk which basically allowed me to lose my balance in multiple directions.

I go back on Monday and I'll be asking about running. It's been almost a month since I've been and I'm anxious to get started again. 

Early Wednesday morning I'm off to Phoenix for my annual work visit and it would be great to be able to do even a short run while there.

More to come on my next treatment and that trip.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dry Needling, Balance Exercises and Other Fun

This afternoon I had my first physical therapy session. And by first I mean very first. Ever.

After some basic questions about my injury and its history, Nick, my therapist, began by having me walk down a hall and then up some stairs a couple of times. He just watched.

Then we moved to a massage table out in the main therapy room. Unlike your typical doctor's office, this room, in addition to a couple of tables, had exercise balls, BOSU balls, some machines and of all things a Wii Fit!

Alas, I did not get to play any games. Instead, Nick had me perform some tasks such as lifting my weight up on my toes, one leg at a time. This left me feeling a little sore, but not in pain.

Then he had me do some tests where I would resist his efforts to pull my legs and feet in different directions. As near as I could tell, this was all diagnostic.

The diagnostics became more focused on my specific injury. Various poking and prodding seemed to tell him that the soleus muscle in both legs was very tight. Once he had this determined, he was ready to proceed with actual treatment.

The process is called dry needling. The procedure is similar to acupuncture but the focus of the therapy and the way each works is different. Essentially the area of attention is treated by creating tiny hemorrhages which then induce collagen and protein formation. That's not to say that I was stuck with needles until I bled. Externally, there was no blood at all. In fact, hours after the treatment, I don't even show bruises on my leg.

What did happen is that each time, the affected area twitched and I could feel a slight twinge, but not what I would call actual pain. It was weird and a little uncomfortable, but not painful. Once a handful of applications were complete, Nick applied heat to my calves for probably about 15 minutes.

Then I was done. Well, done for today. I'll be back next week for my treatment like this. He thinks I might be able to start running again in another week or two which makes me happy. Even if I can't be ready for the marathon, it will feel good just to be out there.

Between now and next week, I've been given a series of exercises and stretches. As part of the assessment, he noted that my balance is not particularly good and these will help with that as well as loosening the soleus muscle. I only need to do them a couple of times over the next week.

At the moment, my right calf feels sore, like maybe I had been running up steep hills earlier. That should go away in a day or two and then it will be back to my routine as long as everything feels okay.

I'll continue to post here on any updates.

Thanks for reading!