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Wednesday Workout Update - Physical Therapy is Also Mental Therapy

Posted Oct 16 2013 6:00am
I went to physical therapy twice last week and felt like it was helping.  By my second appointment, on Friday, my hamstring pain had lessened quite a bit - I was given some exercises to do at home after the first appointment, and I think they helped (along with the treatments they gave me during the session).  The PT I saw on Friday was more of a sports specialist, and we talked quite a bit about how I run (speed, intervals, goals).  Because of how much better I was feeling, and because of the Astym procedure that I'd had done both visits, she encouraged me to go ahead and run on Saturday.  Apparently your muscle tissues heal better after Astym when you are doing regular activity.  If I felt a lot of pain while running (some muscle ache was acceptable), then I could just turn around and walk back.  I was very happy and encouraged to hear this, as you might imagine.

So bright and early on Saturday morning, Amy and I started our run, taking it easy and going slower than normal.  We ran our usual 2:1 intervals for nearly 3 miles (and were even paced by a tiny kitten for a while - so cute), but once I started feeling the hamstring pull, we began to walk more than run, especially when we came to the hillier parts.  By the time we got through the fancy neighborhood, I told her that I was ready to turn back to the park - she was fine with that, and we ended up doing 5 miles total, with much of the last two miles spent walking.  The hamstring definitely got more and more tender, but weirdly, the pain started moving around the front of my quad, and that ended up hurting worse than the hammy. 

I stretched and iced it as we were waiting for the other runners to return, but along with that pain, the arch of my left foot started hurting a lot, and my calves were also cramping up  (which I'm sure was due to going from zero to five miles).  Apparently I'd inadvertently changed my gait just enough to compensate for the hamstring, and that affected other parts of my leg.  Great, just great.  Now instead of one thing, I was dealing with multiple issues.  As the day went on and I would get a sharp stabbing pain up high on my quad any time I twisted my foot or stepped oddly, I got more and more upset.  I felt like I had a big setback and was beating myself up inside for trying to run.

Monday was especially bad for me, mentally.  I was not only depressed, but mad.  Why do I keep getting injured?  I'm not running too much.  I'm not pushing myself for speed.  I had barely gotten into the longer miles when my hamstring injury happened.  I run intervals, for crying out loud.  I'm not competitive, I don't go for PR's when I run, I just like to run for the sake of doing something fun with my friends.  My patience was wearing thin, and honestly, my hope for getting back to running was, as well.

Yesterday I had another physical therapy appointment.  I went in expecting to be told how much more I'd screwed up my body, but instead, my PT listened to my litany of pains, got me on the table, pressed and pulled and stretched and did some trigger point therapy (ouch) and all of a sudden I felt so much better.  The sharp stabbing pain was gone...she said it was the iliopsoas muscle in my hip flexor area, and yes, that came about from running too much on Saturday.  What a relief to know that things weren't as bad as I thought - I'm a pretty positive person in general, but I'll admit, I had been awfulizing quite a bit since Saturday.

It's so funny how getting something "fixed" in the physical area can help so much with the mental area...I feel like I'm getting a bonus with my PT copay - therapy for both my body AND mind.  Considering how low I was feeling, it's absolutely worth every dollar.  I go back again tomorrow, and I already have my appointments scheduled for next week.  Now, I'm a little more hopeful that I will feel normal soon and won't miss out on running our goal race. 
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