Plantar Fasciitis – 10 Steps to Healing

 

When I first felt the tug of tightness in the arch and heel of my foot one late summer day, I had no idea that it would become a chronic condition that would take me months and months to heal. I scoured the internet for answers and advice and tried everything that sounded promising to me. I sought the counsel and care of all sorts of practitioners – different chiropractors, physical therapists, a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, a podiatrist and a sports orthopedist. I dedicated myself to their care and to their recommendations. Some things seemed to help me and others, well they just didn’t at all.

img_4546

It has been an emotional roller coaster, and I have learned so much about myself along the way. At this point, I finally feel as though I am heading in the right direction.

Here are the top 10 things I recommend you do if you have plantar fasciitis:
Continue reading

epiphany

I have yet to run my first miles of 2017.

After 5 months of repeatedly thinking that my foot was better enough to run again, and then painfully realizing that it wasn’t after days or weeks of slowly easing back into it, I decided as I rang in the New Year that the miles I run this year will be worth waiting for.

In August my foot began hurting. I rested for weeks and went to see two different chiropractors. It was getting a little better, but the pain was not going away. I wasn’t satisfied that I was on the right path.

In September I went to see a podiatrist and had an x-ray that came up clean. I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and prescribed rest, ice, heat and orthotics. I saw a physical therapist and began a routine of exercises given to me to help correct my imbalances. I joined a yoga studio and a gym and got myself in the pool. My coach gave me workouts to do while I rested my foot.

In October I tried running again, and started to think maybe I was on my way to getting better. But there was still a consistent pain all day, even if it were to a lesser degree. I went to see a new physical therapist and a sports orthopedist who is a Boston runner himself. I had an MRI which came back indicating plantar fasciitis, once again – no stress reactions, no fractures, no tears. After a few more weeks of rest, swimming and yoga, my foot was still hurting. On the last day of October I had a cortisone shot. This was a step I was totally fearful of, but my doctor felt that the condition warranted it. So I tried it. Continue reading

Making the most of the off season – a talk with Dr. Aleck Wong

‘Tis the season! This phrase is heard ringing throughout our lives day-in and day-out this time of year. And while everyone is bustling about with the busy-ness of juggling life and preparing for the holidays, runners and endurance athletes are also typically finding themselves in the midst of another kind of season – the off season. I think of it more as a “reboot season” – unplugging for a bit and starting back up again after sufficient rest. It’s a crucial time for a runner, truly. A rich opportunity to let go of the rigors of training and racing in order to reap the benefits of and learn from the prior cycle or to address issues that have lingered from it. It’s a time to recharge our batteries on all levels – physical, mental and emotional.

This season can be welcomed and embraced by any level of runner, but it also oftentimes leaves us feeling a little bit lost and anxious to get back to the rhythms of training and racing. I have been wondering lately – what is the BEST way to approach this in-between time, to prime our bodies and minds for goals we have ahead of us?

How do we make the most of our time off from training? As a coach and an athlete myself, I have a lot of ideas and opinions about this. But I wanted to ask someone whose expertise and opinions I have always valued, to get a little more insight into it and to pass that wisdom along to you.

Continue reading

traits of a good chiropractor

Truth be told, I used to be really freaked out by the mere idea of a chiropractor.  When I hurt my back for the first time several years ago and my sister encouraged me to go see one, I resisted out of fear and skepticism.  I’m not totally sure why I had that attitude going into it, but I did.  I had tried and loved other forms of alternative care like massage therapy and acupuncture, but the idea of a chiropractor just did not sit well with me.  Ultimately my pain was so horrible though and the fact was I had two young children to care for at the time and I could hardly move.  I needed help and was desperate for it.  So I went to see a chiropractor.

And … I hated it.

What I mostly remember about the experience is that I had no connection to the doctor – he “adjusted” me with a crack here and a snap there.  I felt vulnerable, intimidated, confused and overwhelmed.  And what’s worse was that I was still in so much pain, with very little flexibility or understanding about what was happening to my body or why it was even happening.  I remember he told me I needed to eliminate many foods from my (already limited) diet and advised me to take what seemed like a million zillion supplements … and wanted me to return to see him several times over the course of the next week or so for more cracking and snapping.  I went for a few more visits and eventually my back was better, but I was really turned off by the whole experience and prayed I wouldn’t have a need to see a chiropractor ever again.

A few years later though I was faced with more lower back pain, a weakened pelvic floor and a totally out of whack SI joint while trying to return to running after having my third baby.   I needed help again – much more than I ever had before – and I needed someone who would be supportive and honest and understanding of not only where I was at but also where I wanted to be.  I needed someone I could trust.  Someone who would work with me, not just on me.

And that is when I found Dr. Wong.  From the very first time I saw him just about two years ago, I knew I was in the best possible hands.  THIS is what people talk about when they talk about having a good chiropractor.

The thing is, I believe without a doubt that I would not be where I am today as a runner, or really as a person, if Dr. Wong were not a part of my journey.

And I feel really ridiculously lucky to know him.

The purpose of this post though isn’t to just gush about Dr. Wong …. though I could totally do that and if you know me in real life you have probably heard me sing his praises to you many times over.  If this post were all about Dr. Wong, I would tell you how great I think he is – how smart he is – how supportive he is – how thorough and thoughtful and careful he is.  I would tell you about how I think his attitude and his understanding and his passion for what he does is inspiring and contagious and assuring and just purely AWESOME.   I would explain how I love how curious he is about the way the human body works, and how cool I think it is that he thinks about all of the pieces of the puzzle when he works with his patients.  About how I love the way in which he approaches my care each and every time I go to see him – it is always with the big picture in mind and he always listens to what I have to say (even if I am being a complete wacko…which I am pretty sure is almost ALWAYS the case).

This post is intended more to be about the reasons behind why I think he is so awesome – what I think makes him so good at what he does.  What I think all runners and athletes deserve to have in the doctor they choose to see, if they choose to see one (which I highly recommend!).

In my opinion ….

– A good chiropractor is someone who does more than adjust the spine.  Someone who is certified to do other types of care – Active Release Therapy (ART), Graston technique and other forms of soft tissue work – in addition to manipulation of the spine.  Getting you aligned properly is so important, but if your muscles are still incredibly tight and cranky then snapping you into place is not going to take you very far for very long.  Sometimes I go to see Dr. Wong and he hardly adjusts me at all.  He only does Graston when he feels it is absolutely necessary (which is typically when I have a lot of scar tissue built up in a certain area that is bothering me) and almost always does ART to release the crankiness in a tight muscle.  A good chiropractor will ask you questions about your running and your lifestyle as well as want understand how you are feeling in your body.  Based on how you answer those questions, he or she will survey your body to determine which types of therapy make the most sense at the time of your visit.  It is not the same every time you go.

– A good chiropractor doesn’t just “treat the victim.”  I have learned through my experience with Dr. Wong that the location of my pain is rarely the cause of my pain.  The site of my pain is typically (really, almost always) the victim of something else that is happening in my body.  For example, recently when I was feeling pain on the inside of my right knee, Dr. Wong figured out that the cause of that pain was a tight calf muscle (the gastrocnemius to be specific).  He worked his magic (some ART on that grumpy calf muscle) to loosen things up and told me to be a little more thorough when I rolled out my calves every day with the Tiger Tail stick.  He also told me it would be safe to continue running with this pain.  I did what he said and a few days later the knee pain was gone.  If we had just focused on the knee or the alignment around it, I’m sure I would be worse not better.

– A good chiropractor will explain to you what he thinks is going on, and help you come up with a plan to not only treat it and make it better, but to prevent it from continuing or from getting worse.  Maybe it’s just me, but I really like – no need – to understand what is going on with my body.  Learning to tell the difference between pain that is safe to push through and pain that is your body’s way of telling you that you are headed straight to Injury City is not an easy thing.  Having a good doctor who will take the time to work with you to understand what is causing your pain is invaluable in my opinion.  There are lots of pieces to the puzzle – your bio mechanics are a very important part of that puzzle but there are other factors too – such as your mileage build, the intensity and duration of your workouts, the shoes you are wearing and the surfaces you are running on, the amount of sleep you are getting, the nutritional quality of the foods you are eating and how you are using your body during all of the hours that you don’t spend running.  A good doctor will not only help you figure out what is going on but he or she will offer ideas and suggestions to help you move forward safely.  You will also learn to really trust yourself when it comes to listening to your body, because you will understand so much more.  I have no doubt that working with Dr. Wong in this way has made me a smarter and better runner.  He has taught me to be so much more in tune with my body and how I use it.

 – A good chiropractor understands the importance your running and your goals have for you and sincerely wants you to succeed.  In fact, he or she is active too and believes in the importance of moving your body to live a healthy, happy life.  Nothing is worse than seeing a doctor who thinks you are crazy for running as much as you do or who belittles or second-guesses your goals.  During the times that I have been sidelined because of injury, Dr. Wong has always helped me get back to where I wanted to be – safely.  His goal is to keep me running safely and happily, for at least as long as I hope to do that.  Dr. Wong isn’t a marathoner and I am sure he doesn’t have any interest in running the way that I do, but he is incredibly supportive of my dreams and this really matters to me.

 – A good chiropractor will always keep the BIG PICTURE in mind, and remind you to do the same, because he cares about your long-term overall health and happiness.  As much as Dr. Wong is supportive of my current running goals and dreams, he knows that it is not worth sacrificing my long-term health and happiness for.  Together, we have no interest in pushing things too far and getting me hurt or sapping my love for this sport from my heart through overdoing it and training too hard for too long.  Dr. Wong is always there to help me keep myself in check and to remind me to take a step back and not only see how far I have come but to look at the bigger picture of where I want to be years from now.  I want to grow old as youthfully as possible and I want to continue running and loving to run for all of the days of my life.  Dr. Wong helps me keep it all in perspective.  He doesn’t sugarcoat anything or put band-aids on problems to keep them at bay for a little while.  He is real with me and always helps reign me in when I am in need of that – this is a huge reason why I trust him so much.

Do you have a doctor who you truly trust?  Someone who will help you navigate your training, help you learn to listen to your body and to understand what kind of pain is safe to push through and what kind is not?  Do you have a doctor who truly and sincerely cares about your health, your safety and your happiness?  Who looks at the big picture and doesn’t just try to put out fires every time you come in with pain?  Someone who believes in you and values the importance your sport has for you in your life?  Someone who tries to understand the reasons behind the pain you may be feeling – what got you there in the first place – and who wants to work with you to help prevent future injuries or discomfort?  Someone who will take the time to answer your questions and explain things to you?

I hope that you do.  And if you don’t, I think you should not give up your search until you find someone who gives you that level of care.  It really makes a difference.

Have you ever seen a chiropractor or had Active Release Therapy or Graston?  What are your thoughts?  What traits do you look for in a good chiropractor?

NVR QWT

This morning I went back to see Dr. Wong and we had a great session.  He is awesome, let me tell you.  Last week (on Wednesday) when I went for my run I felt an awful pain in my pubic bone and an ache in my tailbone.  It freaked me out so I stopped running after just 3 minutes on the treadmill and walked for 20 minutes instead.  It just wasn’t the kind of pain I thought I should run through and I was left feeling really sad and scared.  As a runner I am used to running through aches and working kinks out from time to time, but this was different.  I’m cautious when it comes to injury prevention – I try to listen closely to my body to avoid hurting myself and this has worked for me in the past.  Yesterday I eased into a 30 minute run and felt no pain so I kept going.  The longer I moved, the better I felt.  Dr. Wong said I am going to feel aches and pains while getting back into running after having a baby.  This is ok and totally normal.  Running will make me stronger and I will not get injured as long as I am easing into it – building my mileage – and listening to my body.

On my way home this morning I was stopped at a red light behind a car with this license plate: NVR QWT.  I looked at it and thought – Thank you, God. Thank you for this message today.  I love how God speaks to me through little signs like this and I pray that I am always open to seeing them…because I know they are always there.  I am not a quitter and I am not alone.  I will give this the good fight and be stronger because of it!!!  I WILL NEVER QUIT.

a plan

I gained over 40 pounds when I was pregnant.  I delivered a 9 pound baby (more than a pound bigger than my other two children).  I was active during my pregnancy – running strong for much of it and walking when that didn’t feel right.  My hope was that I would “bounce back” after the baby was born and return to my fitness pretty quickly and without much trouble.

About 3 weeks before Gus was born my SI (sacroiliac) joint on the right side started to REALLY hurt me.  At times so much that I just had to lay in bed.  The SI joint is in your lower back/hip area where your sacrum meets your ilium.  The pressure and the weight of the baby on my pelvis was too much and with the increased levels of the hormone relaxin surging through me in preparation for childbirth all of my ligaments were loosy-goosy and this was causing pain in my SI joint.  I talked to my doctor and to the chiropractor – both of them suggested rest and patience until baby was born.  After delivery we would see where I was at with it.  Well, I was ok after delivery.  Until I started running.  Now I have pain in my right hip and it is unsettling.  I feel off.  My core feels ridiculously weakened.  My spirits are low – I want to run so badly right now!  To feel fit and STRONG and to SWEAT.  To release all that needs to be released emotionally right now.  I miss my outlet.  I miss running.
Yesterday I went to see Dr. Wong.  He is a chiropractor at United Wellness Center which is a great little place not far from where I live.  He has worked on my sister Jodi (who had back surgery several years ago and now runs marathons) and on many people I know who run.  He runs.  He is amazing and he gets me.
I think going to see him yesterday was a really good decision.  The first thing he said to me after we discussed everything that is going on with me was “LET GO OF THE NEGATIVITY.”  Let it go.  I am stronger than I am giving myself credit for and I am smart.  My hips are out of whack because I just gave birth 5 1/2 weeks ago and my pelvic floor was traumatized and weakened by my big baby and all the weight I was carrying.  Dr. Wong did a light adjustment and discussed with me a plan to get myself running and ready for the 10 miler in 4 weeks as well as ready to begin training for MCM this spring.  I am going to work on the reformer at the studio with my sister, rather than doing the mat exercises I have been doing.  My core needs to be strengthened – especially my pelvic floor – and working on the reformer will be much safer, smarter and effective as I will have the guidance and assistance from the equipment.  Pilates mat is the toughest way to do the exercises because it is up to you to make sure you are doing it right – the apparatus really makes sure you are doing it properly and with my weakened muscles this is a much smarter place to begin.  I am going to go back to the basics, start from square one, with my training.  I am going to be POSITIVE and believe in myself and be patient on this journey.  This experience will make me stronger in more ways than one.  I am going to reclaim my body – my strength – my fitness.
Dr. Wong and I talked about my running plan.  We decided that I should approach my training for the 10 miler by focusing on minutes run, not miles.  This will allow me to just think about my endurance rather than getting all caught up in how many miles I can run.  Sounds good to me.  So today I am going to head out for a 40 minute run.  I will wear my Garmin so I can see how much distance I’m covering, but I’m not going to let it concern me.  I will enjoy the weather, the nature all around me, the strength that lies within me.  My plan is to build on the time and get myself up to running for 100 minutes by 3 weeks from now (adding 20 minutes to the long run each weekend) with shorter runs 3 days during the week. I’m going to go back to see Dr. Wong on Wednesday and we’ll see how I’m doing.  In addition, my sister Jodi is going to have me into the studio 2-3 times a week to work on the reformer.  I am so lucky….and so grateful she is going to do that with me. 
That’s it.  That’s the plan and that is what is going on with me.  I’m going to go feed my adorable little baby and then lace up my shoes for the 40 minute run.  Heading out on the trails on this gorgeous morning filled with hope, gratitude and a hefty dose of positive thinking.