If this is your first time reading my blog, you might not know that I injured my ankle back in November. It was 2 days before my first marathon and I wound up cheering for my training partners from the sidelines. While I did what my primary doctor had advised, I felt like there was something still wrong with me. It became more prevalent as I tried to ease back into running and working out regularly at the gym. So, I got a second opinion. I found out I had a longitudinal split of the peroneus brevis tendon, a chronic tear of the anterior talofibular ligament and a sprain of the calcaneofibular ligament. I was referred from orthopedics to podiatry. I wound up in a boot and a cast for awhile as a conservative treatment since it wasn’t a full tear, which would have meant surgery. I’m now in a brace all of the time and I’m in physical training to get released to run again. So, if you see your doctor and you have that nagging feeling that something isn’t right, you should probably trust your instincts. This could have been resolved months ago and I’d be out on the trail and in the gym, which is my zen. Exercise literally makes me happy mentally and physically.
I’m in physical therapy 3 days a week and I have homework for the days I don’t have an appointment. These therapists have got me working hard and I see the progress. Day 1, I couldn’t walk down steps the way I used to before the boot. Now, I can walk the stairs, balance on one foot, and do many other things I couldn’t before. I thought I’d go through some of the things I do in therapy to show that while it is challenging, it isn’t impossible.
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When I got to therapy, all I wanted was to hop on the treadmill and try to run. My first trip involved me drawing the abc’s with my foot, doing crunches with my toes, and moving my ankle in ways I hadn’t been able to with the cast on. I learned stretches, and exercises to increase my flexibility.
We’ve been wrapping appointments up with electrical stimulation on my foot. I call it the “zappy thing,” but it doesn’t zap as much as it is a little massage directly on the spot it gets irritated. The therapists say that it helps to interrupt the pain signal from reaching the brain and prevents inflammation to the area, which can result in increased pain.
I was ecstatic when she let me ride the stationary bike. Yes, I was super happy to do it, but I was sweating after 5 minutes and felt pretty exerted. I am up to 15 minutes and it definitely isn’t as difficult as it was a few weeks ago. I still feel a little silly breaking a sweat and having labored breathing after what seems like such a brief time doing something that seemed much easier before the time I was sidelined.
I was put on the treadmill on a board with a bottom part much like a rocker. Standing one way made me have to balance myself forward and back; the other way required me to balance longitudinally. Both ways were challenging at first, which I credited to having been in the boot for the previous weeks. I find myself grasping the hand rails much less frequently when on the board.
When I went to phase 2 of my ‘homework packet’, I started doing more challenging exercises at home. The most difficult was calf raises with my toes pointed outward, forward, and inward. It was even more challenging when I was asked to do it on only my right leg (the injured one). Then, she added weights. I was sore after that workout, but we’ve started doing some additional stretches that seem to have stopped it. One is standing on the ‘slant board’ with my knees straight, then bent. The calf raises are something I should probably incorporate as a regular thing moving forward in my fitness journey.
Another balance tool I use is something that is called a “Bosu Ball”. That is a brand, but it is an inflated rubber hemisphere attached to a rigid platform. I have done squats on the platform side trying to make it balance. I have improved so much, one of the therapists commented on how well I was doing with balance. I also have done lunges on the ball with my injured foot being placed onto the rubber part and my other foot firm on the ground. Both have had ankle weights added to the routine to add a bit of a challenge. I’ve also been able to use the step with and without weights doing repetitive steps for different time frames. I also balance on one foot on a stability cushion often. I haven’t quite mastered staying on it for longer than 10 seconds at a time.
I think the rebounder is a lot of fun to do. There’s a trampoline set at an angle and weighted balls. I stand on a pad on the injured foot while tossing and catching the weighted ball. My initial goal was to increase my throws by 1 each time without putting my left food down to balance. I’ve finally gotten to that point even with a slightly heavier ball.
When she put me on the treadmill, I sent a Snapchat out that I was finally on the treadmill. I was walking, but I was on the darn thing! The first time, I couldn’t really go over 3 mph walking. The last time I went, I was almost up to a light jog. I was told that next time, I will be allowed to walk/run for 20 minutes next time I go and I was so excited, I almost had tears. How close is that to an end? Pretty close, darn it! I’ll be running in time to start training in June like we’d discussed in the beginning of therapy.
I’ve had time on the stair stepper. I believe I’ve never actually used this machine before therapy. It is challenging. I have done it a few times and I seem to be able to do more each time than the last. It really isn’t something I have a positive or negative reaction to. I would just rather bound up real steps for some reason.
This is not a complete list of the things that I do. The therapists are amazing, though. I really feel like I’m making progress. I thought I should share what I do in therapy because I’m not sure how many people know what goes on when people are going multiple times a week. I know I didn’t know and I certainly didn’t think it would be a workout each time.
I’m still raising money for Team Challenge for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I’m going to run 26.2 miles in Chicago on October 8th. Please consider giving and asking your friends to consider it. Thank you!!!!
Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have questions or comments.