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Breaking The Cycle

Posted Oct 25 2011 6:25pm

First a lil’ bit of  history…

My right foot is not currently co-operating with my desire to log a few dozen glorious fall weather miles.

The official diagnosis is Extensor Tendonitis.

The extensor tendons come from the small muscles in front of the leg. They cross the front of the ankle, pass over the top of the foot, attaching to the big and lesser toes. These tendons function to pull the foot upward as well as work with the Achilles tendon and calf muscles to pull the foot downward. When they are over stressed they become inflamed and painful. Extensor tendonitis is commonly caused by tightness of the calf muscle, over exertion, or falling of the foot arch. Treatment consists of stretching, orthotics, and oral anti-inflammatory medications. In more severe cases, a removable below the knee cast may be utilized until full healing can occur.   

As one would expect, I’ve been a bit obsessed focused on trying to determined HOW IN THE HELL this has happened.

As of this morning this is where I was:

  1. the issue is in my right leg which is no great surprise as it is my weaker side since tearing the hamstrings
  • as a result of #1, the muscles in my right leg are always tight and need to be diligently stretched
  • I have NOT been stretching as I’ve been incredibly busy….excuses, excuses I know!
  • I have almost doubled my weekly running volume over-nite. So much for the 10% rule ! I have a HUGE issue practicing all that I preach!!!
  • I’ve been cycling with my feet dorsi-flexed which could be placing undo strain on my calf, so it was recommended to try to pedal in a more plantar-flexed position
  • All this made perfect logical sense and so I changed my pedal position, stretched, reduced my running volume, and have generally felt some relief. But not enough to appease that nagging “why now” in my head.

    This afternoon, I decided to pop by our local run (and tri) store to check out some new shoes and see if they had any ideas about my pesky foot.

    This is when things got interesting.

    This is the kind of place that likes to put you on the treadmill and video your gait cycle. Needless to say, I’ve got quite the file on the ole hard drive since I like to buy shoes at fairly frequent intervals. :)

    I start walking, ouch…and then jogging. All of a sudden I’m up on my toes AND RUNNING!

    What the hell? I’m on my toes?! What’s going on? I don’t run mid-foot, I run heel-toe. How did I get up on the balls of my feet like this and WHY?

    Well friends, apparently my form HAS CHANGED!!!

     My legs remain under my hips, I’m up on the balls of my feet, I have a nice toe off, a decent stride, good cadence, AND I no longer BOUNCE!

    I’m now officially considered an efficient runner!

    An efficient runner in a bit of discomfort, but efficient is EFFICIENT and I’ll take it!

    We compared my previous gait analysis to todays and realized that this form change in combination with the drastic bump in mileage was WHY my calf was so tight.

    The calf tightens from running up on the mid foot (due to lack of strength and endurance) which causes the opposing group, the extensors, to tighten as well. Once the extensors tighten the discomfort on top of the foot becomes the predominant issue.

    I’m so glad that I decided to stop by the store today. If I hadn’t analyzed my gait cycle, I wouldn’t have a grasp on my true problem and likely would’ve resumed a 9-10 mile run instead of cutting back. This would have resulted in the return of my symptoms and the process would continue over and over again.

    Breaking the cycle is key and you can’t do it without ALL the answers!

    For now, I’m water running, cycling and swimming until the pain is gone and then I’ll gradually ease back onto the streets. It could be 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 months, but based on how I’m feeling now; I think in a week or so I should be able to resume some easy running.

    In other related news, I’ve purchased my 1st  pair of neutral running shoes and in time, may actually be allowed into a pair of racing flats!! Whoo-Hoo!!

    I can not tell you, how happy I am to run in something UNDER 120zs!!

    It really is the little things!!

    Swim Happy, My Friends!


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