Today I took my first step of 2016! My first running step, that is. It’s been a frustrating 3 months since I shut it down after the Kansas City Marathon. Three months of no running. No running isn’t very conducive to a blog about running either.
I ran one mile on a treadmill this afternoon after finally getting in to see the podiatrist (I had to cancel an appointment in December). Of course you always tend to like people who give you good news, but I can see why he’s in demand. Way back in November, my PCP ruled out a calcaneus fracture. I understood his diagnosis was heel bruise. I embarked on a regimen of icing, stretching, cross-training, but no running. The improvement was agonizingly gradual, so much so that I became convinced that what I really had was a plantar fascia tear. The mechanism of injury was right, and Peyton Manning was getting a lot of attention for his. In fact, it wasn’t until I ran across this article and its plantar-specific stretching exercises that I really felt like I was starting to improve at all.
Not satisfied with how I was progressing 3 months into my non-running layoff, I kept my appointment with a podiatrist today. He examined my heel and after less than a minute of palpating different spots, he knew what the problem was – not fascia related at all! It’s a bursa sac. The hard impact from my late August trail running stumble and stomp touched off some bursitis. While keeping up my running mileage (kind of) through my October marathon didn’t help matters, and shutting it down did, it’s probably walking with its associated heel striking that has kept it from healing faster than it has.
I kept an open mind going into the appointment, but I was just astounded by how my doc didn’t fit any of the stereotypes I hoped he wouldn’t. No orthotics. No criticism of my forefoot/midfoot striking and minimal shoe selection (both in running shoes and for everyday wear). In fact, he hypothesized that my running style was what enabled me to keep running through my marathon – a heel striker would have never made it.
I walked out with some waffle-cushioned heel cups (for walking, not running) and the encouragement that he saw no reason why I couldn’t get back to running. I wasn’t afraid to ask – but I am wary of trying to impose my will on someone who is giving me advice. I suspect he knew I wanted to get back to running, but I was certainly willing to keep holding off if that had been his recommendation. He suggested I take it easy at first – low mileage on a cushioned treadmill, keep up the cross-training. The dreadmill never felt so good! The rest of the prescription was a month of icing the heel and NSAIDs (2 Aleve – naproxen sodium 220 mg; 2x day) to quiet down the bursa sac. He also encouraged me to keep up the plantar-specific stretching, since it’s activating the same area and providing relief. If all that doesn’t work, he’ll do an injection to break the cycle.
You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Running, I’ve missed you. It’s good to be back.