Thursday, October 2, 2014

Building a stronger Becky

I haven't posted lately, but I've been following everyone's successes with interest (and envy). My long road back to health can be likened more to an ultra at this point than a marathon. After multiple attempts at physical therapy, podiatry and orthopedics over the past 18 months, I'm seeing a new PT--one who I found via another running blogger. I could tell by her posts that she really trusted him, and she was traveling from Howard County to downtown Washington for her appointments, and that's pretty crazy.

This practice isn't convenient for me, nor is it in network--but I gave it a shot. My original plan was to go once a week during the month of July, but now it's October and I'm still at it. One of my previous PTs stressed the fact that if a course of treatment doesn't seem to be working after a few weeks, it's time to seek a new practice.

But I did start seeing some improvements--small, though, and not necessarily lasting--so I have kept at it. During my initial assessment, Robert noticed that I had barely any mobility in my left (bad side) ankle. Think about your knee coming over your foot during a stride--without mobility in your ankle, the kinetic chain doesn't work. In addition to my foot pain, I've been having a lot of pain down the side of my leg (peroneal tendon) so it makes sense that I was torquing it somehow.

The ankle stuff has improved with targeted stretches and some seriously painful manual work. I had a decent week of running while in Cape Cod and was encouraged. But the pain returned upon my return home, and even though treatment helped each week, it wasn't keeping the issue from coming back.

I was honest with Robert and he promised to really think about what else might be going on. While he was thinking, he and I also strategized about other things that might be getting in my way--namely the hours spent on the spin bike in lieu of running. I had a bike fit in the spring, but per Robert's suggestion I actually went a bit against the bike fitter's advice and moved my cleat as far back toward my heel as possible.

Over the past couple of weeks, Robert has done some additional assessments and discovered my lack of core and hip strength. I do a ton of (what I thought was) core work, but probably not the right core work. And I'm not surprised about my hips. So I've been learning some basic, but still challenging, hip strengthening exercises (like clamshells) and am trying to be as diligent as possible.

This week, Robert watched me run on a treadmill at PT. I've been through this many times before and the comments from the observer usually range from "Well, that's different" to "I've never seen a more biomechanically incorrect stride." I didn't get any judgment this time, but here's what I learned. I normally wouldn't post pictures of my ass for the world to see, but in the name of recovery, it's important.

So now I have even more work to do. The "vaulting" thing really throws me. How do I change that? I know that Ted and others have worked on stride changing with success, but I've tried it before and I feel like it didn't stick. Good luck to me!


  1. Awesome post!!

    This guy seems good. He's right about core strength. I started to turn the corner a few months back when I started doing regular abs work, and most importantly planking. It seems to "suck" everything into alignment after a couple of weeks.

    As for stride changing, I changed it once. As I'm working my way back into shape, I'm finding that my stride is a work in progress again. I'm relearning stuff I thought I'd already learned once . . .

    Good luck!! And keep us posted.

  2. Thanks! With me core is a little more complicated because I can't do traditional planks since I had a diastasis after pregnancy...that was ironically caused by doing planks during pregnancy. Working at it though!

  3. Oh hey! I recognize that shirt!!

  4. Just found this article online, may give some of its suggestions a try:

  5. That shirt is one of my faves actually!

  6. A thought: no mention of arms in the discussion, but from my perspective you are wide in the elbows. That correlates to a slight hunch in the shoulders, or it does in my case, which in turn causes (or flows from -- the direction of causation is unclear to me) problems in the hips. Is there value in consciously working the elbows in parallel to one another on the arm-swings? I work on that by thinking about keeping the wrists wider than is natural, instead of swinging across the body in the front.

    This amateur diagnosis seems utterly unrelated to ankle and foot pain(!), but I'm continually amazed at how everything is tied together.