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.
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.
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.