Tag Archives: rehabilitation

Pain or not? And what do I do when I’m not running…

Hi again,

If you’ve read my blog or follow me on instagram you might be aware that I’m still struggling with a knee injury. It started in May but because I kept ignoring it the marathon at the beginning of October made it a lot worse. It’s been almost 6 weeks now since the marathon and I’ve gradually built myself up to running about 20 minutes. It’s been the slowest recovery process I’ve ever experienced. Even with the broken ankle once the boot and crutches were off I was almost immediately back to running 20-30 minute runs whereas this time I’ve had to start with little 5 min segments.

running

With the last few 20 min runs I’m not sure if they are pain-free either. I don’t know if anyone else gets this but when you’ve been injured for a long time or had an ongoing niggle can you almost feel it on every run? I’m not sure anymore if I have pain or is it just normal sensation on the knee or is it just because I’m so used to the pain that I think it’s still there? Does that make any sense? With my previous ITB injury I had the same thing; when I started back running I could “feel” the ITB on every run, it wasn’t pain but I was very aware of it for a long time. At the moment my knee isn’t hurting in a way that I would need to stop and it’s not uncomfortable but I am not running without noticing it either. Weird. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyhow so what have I been doing to keep some sort of overall fitness and more importantly how have I justified all the chocolate eating in the past 6 weeks?

The answer is gym, swimming and pilates.

gymbike

At the gym I’ve mainly focused on just maintaining fitness rather than pushing for improvement. I’ve done a lot of cycling on the bike, hill walking on the treadmill and crosstrainer. Plus this time around I’ve actually tried to do legs, arms and abs as well which I normally tend to ignore. I do find the bikes and crosstrainers quite boring, however, so occasionally I’ve done some intervals like 10*2 min hard with 1 min recovery for instance, just to keep the exercising a bit more exciting and exhausting.

I’ve also been going to pilates. I try to go once a week but it hasn’t happened every week just because.. well life.

pilates

As a new thing I’ve started going swimming. The pool is really far from where I live plus I lost my swimming suit so I haven’t been going before but I do like swimming because of the low impact. I originally went there because I wanted to go aquajogging; my favourite way to crosstrain, but turns out you need to bring your own belt. In Swansea the national pool let you borrow theirs and In Finland you can use theirs as well so I was a bit disappointed. Looks like I’m going to have to invest in one.

swimming

So an example training week for me:

Monday: Gym. Hard effort on cross trainer (plus warmup and cool down), legs & arms.

Tuesday: Hill walking + abs.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Gym. Easy 25 min bike, 20 min crosstrainer, legs & arms.

Friday: Gym. Easy 30 min bike, 30 min walking uphill on the treadmill, abs + back.

Saturday: Off.

Sunday: 2*5 min of running plus walking, total of 7km.

The following week included small attempts of running on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday, swimming on Tuesday and Gym on Saturday.

autumnpicture
I miss this weather already!

As you might notice, the training is quite easy and not as frequent at the moment. I have big plans for next year runningwise but for now I’m focusing on getting my knee better. I have no pressure to be exercising I’m just doing it to keep myself happy and half-fit  (and to be able to continue my chocolate-eating habits).

It’s completely normal to have a chocolate cupboard like this right?

chocolatecupboardP.S. I have to mention that my brother came 15th in his age group of up to 8-year olds in a Chess World Youth Championships in Greece last week! 🙂

(And I don’t even understand the rules of chess).

A word or two about physiotherapists and other experts (plus few totally unrelated photos)

I don’t know what it is with me and medical professionals but I don’t like to seek help until I absolutely have to and genuinely think I might be dying. It’s the same with normal doctors as well as with sport specialists.

When I first started running I trained for a half and then full marathon without any niggles or injuries. I had hardly any muscle soreness after my runs and I remember thinking I must be some kind of special person who just doesn’t get injured (I was wrong).

margaretriver
Pretty ugly beach (near Margaret River, Australia)

I broke my ankle on New Years Eve 2012 (not even a cool accident but high heels and too much alcohol) and that’s when all the troubles started. I snapped bones on both inside and outside of my foot and had to have a surgery where a metal plate and 7 screws were placed in my ankle. Happy New Year to me! I had to be off running for few months but I was told it won’t affect my running afterwards.

crutches
This was NOT cool. Flying and Travelling all day on crutches is by far one of the worst things I’ve had to do.

Obviously after I got off the crutches I should’ve strengthened and mobilised my ankle first but instead I rushed into running almost immediately. It took about two weeks and a weird hip flexor pain appeared. After couple of weeks of resting the pain was still there even worse than before.

I went to see a physio (I have to say here that this was a free walk-in clinic where the patients are seen for about 15 min) and she told me I needed some movement on my leg and I should go to the swimming pool and walk around the pool and kick my legs in the water. I did that and you bet I looked stupid 😀

The pain didn’t go anywhere, it appeared as soon as I tried running. So I went to see an osteopath but they couldn’t figure it out either and told me to just rest more and alternate hot and cold compressions on it.  I did and it didn’t help. By the summer 2013 I had had this pain for about 2-3 months so I was getting slightly frustrated.

Fitzroy Island
Another beauty (Fitzroy Island near Cairns, Australia)

In Finland my friend Minna (who I’ve told you, knows everything) suggested I go and see a specialist who treats your body holistically for all sort of imbalances in your bones etc (For Finnish readers: Jäsenkorjaaja). It’s kind of like a chiropractor but milder version of that. I don’t know what it’s called in English but it’s a type of bonesetting or body joint manipulation (the one I went to here). She looked at my body and knew immediately what was wrong; my spine was twisted and was pressing on the nerve which then reflected on the front of my leg causing the pain. She said I had a mild scoliosis and it had all started when I fell and hit my tailbone really hard back in high school. The vertebrea had shifted then and due to my ankle operation I had been running with a slight limp (as I was still careful of the ankle) and that had twisted my spine even more. The treatment involved few hours of gently straightening my back and few days of resting afterwards because you are not allowed to lift anything heavy or twist and turn few days after the treatment. As soon as I went for my first run there was NO pain. After about 3 months I was finally pain free. Had I been listening to the physio and osteopath I would still be kicking my legs in the pool and putting hot/cold compressions on it 😀

marina5k
I remember racing this with a very sore ITB.

In all fairness to the physio and osteopath, I’m sure if I had spent longer time with them they might’ve been able to help too but I am very impatient and want to get help immediately and not wait for many treatments. Because of that experience back then, everytime I get an injury I just google the symptoms and diagnose myself now. It has worked at times. I went to a physio this spring with an ITB issue because I really wanted help but all I got from there was a diagnosis I already knew and he told me to book another appointment for advise on some exercises. (I didn’t, I used google). The common answer to most running injuries is that you have weak glutes and they aren’t firing properly but the worst is when you pay to see someone and they tell you to just rest.

Giraffe
Once upon a time I was pretty close to a giraffe (Tanzania, Africa)

What I actually wanted to say with this post is that my faith in physiotherapists has been restored with my recent visit to a physio. I decided that my knee pain that I’ve been on about for a while now needs to be assessed by someone. I heard pretty good reviews about this particular physio in Cardiff called Andrew Seary so I booked a time to see him. And he is amazing. I instantly got the feeling that he knows exactly what he is doing. He checked everything and told me that my weak ankle that’s lacking strength and mobility has caused the trouble in my knee by shifting  my knee cap out of alignment. My flat feet, overpronation and leg length discrepancies don’t help the issue either 😀

The best thing is that he gave me diagnosis (that google couldn’t tell me), different exercises to do for my leg and for my ankle, recommended me some shoes, and showed me how to tape the knee. I was so happy that I finally got some answers and actual help so I could leave the appointment knowing what to do. It wasn’t expensive at all, and I’d been happy to pay even more for that sort of treatment.

Unfortunately he had an operation on his knee so he is away for few weeks now but if anyone in Cardiff ever needs a good physiotherapist then Andrew Seary is the person to go to (his clinic website is here).

Next time I get an injury I might actually get it checked before 3 months goes by in pain now that I know there are people who can help you immediately.

Broomesunset
One of the best sunsets I’ve seen (Broome, Western Australia)

 

P.S. Can you tell I miss the summer and beaches and travelling just a tiny bit??