healing my heel pain (+ other nagging injuries)

I had every intention of writing a post about Munchkin Meals, but quite honestly, it just wasn’t all that exciting to talk about.  I mean, Miles is a freaking GREAT eater.  There’s nothing the boy won’t eat, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with coming up with new things for him to eat.  He has a steady diet of cheese, peas, bananas, blueberries, beans, and cheerios – it doesn’t stray much from there.  So, therefore, not very exciting.

Instead, I figured I’d share what I’ve been doing to help get myself back to injury-free running.  It’s definitely been an uphill battle, but I’m happy to say that running has been going pretty well since I started making some changes and actually taking care of my body.  While I still wholeheartedly believe in regular chiropractic care as a part of staying healthy, I don’t feel the need to go every week as I once did for so long.  Of course, I still go once a week, but I don’t feel like I need to go, you know?

It’s been 5 weeks since I went to the orthopedic doctor about my foot.  I did 2 sessions of physical therapy, but even by then, my foot had already been feeling a lot better.  My foot has been the main priority lately, so I was determined to treat that first.  The first thing I did?  Tore my plantar fascia.  Yup, you heard that right.  I had been dealing with heel pain for several months – since before Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago – but it didn’t get bad until I felt it pop in the middle of the night when taking MacKenna back to bed.

Thankfully, it wasn’t a bad tear, but just enough to cause some serious pain for a few weeks.  I started wearing a boot to bed and icing + rolling my foot a few times a day.  I also took a whole week off any exercise – no running, lifting, cross training, nothing.  Within about 2 weeks, my foot was feeling significantly better.  By then I had started physical therapy and added several stretching + strengthing exercises throughout the day.  Slowly and surely, I was experiencing less + less pain.  I am now running as much as I had been this summer with little to no pain.  I am diligent about stretching my foot first thing in the morning and have continued doing some of the stretches for my foot (and calves) so that it doesn’t flare back up.

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But, plantar fasciitis hasn’t been the only injury I’ve been dealing with for the last 6 months or so.  While at the physical therapist, we started talking about my nagging injuries since having Miles.  We were both in agreement – most of it was coming from weak hips.  He tested my strength in my hips, and no surprise, pretty bad.  I’m a big believer that weak hips is the cause of most lower body injuries.  Your muscles + tendons in your hips have several attachments above and below the hip, as well as the length of your leg.  If those muscles are weak, they can lead to a boatload of injuries.  While this was something I knew, I just wasn’t willing to put the work in to make them better.

Well, I’m done with being injured.  I want to be back to competitive running.  I want to be winning races and setting PRs again.  So, I have to do something about it.  I have added a series of hip strengthening exercises to my daily routine that I perform before I start working out every day.  They involve fire hydrants, hip circles, and single-leg bridges on both legs.  And I definitely feel them.  I have already noticed a difference in my long runs since I haven’t been nearly as sore at the end of them.

In addition, I added in stretching at the end of my runs.  I hate stretching and have never really believed it was something necessary for runners.  But, I know my flexibility, especially in my ankles + calves, is really poor and is resulting in some of those nagging injuries.  So, I’m spending 5 minutes at the end of my run stretching key lower body areas.  These include my quads, hamstrings, piriformis, hip flexors, and lots + lots of time on my calves and feet.  Again, must less soreness than I had experienced when I wasn’t stretching.

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I’m five week in to all of this and I’m noticing a difference.  Is it going to for sure keep me injury free?  We shall see.  But, I can’t just leave it to chance anymore.  I’m getting older and my body needs to be cared for a little bit better.  Hopefully, I’ll have a longer stretch of running + training without injury and will be starting 2016 competitively again.

  • It sounds like you’re on the right track (omg, get it?) to getting back out there and kicking some trash, missy! Way to keep it up!