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The ankle bone's connected to the...back bone?

Posted Jan 06 2012 12:26am
So today was my anxiously awaited appointment at the sports therapy clinic to figure out what's going on with my ankle. I would have bet money that either:

a) My orthotics needed updating, or
b) I needed and ankle support for a weakened or sprained ligament

WRONG! On both accounts. And this is where it sucks...

I'll start off by saying that I do not seem to have any kind of major ankle injury. Phew! And for that I am extremely thankful. But, what they've told me is that the ankle problems are actually a sign of further issues relating to my back injuries from the accident. Boo.

Since I got hurt in 2005 I have struggled with all kinds of problems in my right SI joint. I didn't actually break anything in that area, but something in my spine "twisted" and resulted in ongoing spasm, tightness, instability, weakness and nerve pain stemming from that joint. Since getting home from Hawaii this Christmas, I have been suffering from a really bad episode of pain and spasm in the area.

As it turns out, the problems in my SI joint prevent the L5 nerves from doing their job and properly instructing the muscles in my foot which leads to weakness and instability in the ankle, causing overpronation and extra stress on the ligaments and therefore all that pain! So it's great that we have figured out what is going on, but I'm feeling kind of let down tonight as I think about what that all means. I was hoping for some new orthotics or a nifty ankle brace, but instead, the only real solution here is to release that SI joint and strengthen everything in my core, back and pelvic floor.

That's a big job and will undoubtedly require lots of regular physiotherapy and probably massage and ART too to start correcting the SI problem. It's a huge, huge job - my SI joint is wrecked because my back is weak. My back is weak in part due to my core being weak. My core is especially weak right now because I just had two babies and have an abdominal diastasis. But it's really hard to strengthen your stomach when you have no support from your back. And in order to have truly strong core, you need to have a strong pelvic floor which I basically will never have because of my surgery. Working on all of these things causes pain, but the pain doesn't get any better until I get stronger. It's a vicious cycle - I have to get fit to lessen the pain, but getting fit causes so much pain in the process. Grr.

Anyhow, I'm not trying to whine or complain, that's not what I'm all about. I know how important it is for the management of my back pain to get fit and strong and how much better that makes me feel physically, but it sucks to think about how difficult it is going to be to get back to that place. With all of the work I've put in over the fall I am definitely seeing improvements and am feeling better, but this whole ankle issue shows me that the problems run a little bit deeper and that it's going to require more outside assistance (i.e. therapy) to get this old bod in order again.

I think what the real let down of this whole situation is, is that it's back-related. I never in a million years thought my ankle pain could possibly be related to my back injuries. But, this is kind of like a slap in the face reminding me that it's always going to be there, the problems I have been left with will continue to come back and haunt me forever. I hate that.

The good news is that I am cleared to continue running as long as I let my pain guide me. So to celebrate the victory (being able to keep running) instead of wallowing in the defeat (the injury) I hit the treadmill for a quick 3km tonight. And now, I am off to hit the floor for some targeted stretching to hopefully start releasing some of the spasm in that damn joint! Wish me luck!
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