Category: Injuries

My Not So Normal Spine

Because my neck pain wasn’t improving on Tuesday, I decided to see a chiropractor to make sure I didn’t do any serious damage.  There’s something different about hurting your neck than any other part of the body and I was starting to get anxious.  I also think looking up neck injuries on WebMD was making me overly paranoid…I don’t recommend doing that.

Luckily my friend Pam was able to recommend a local chiropractor that she has been seeing who has helped her improve her running, and I was able to get an appointment that afternoon.  He started by checking my vitals and reflexes, then did some neurological tests to make sure there weren’t any other issues that this pain was causing.  All seemed fine.  He then felt the left side of my neck where the pain is centralized and immediately said it was VERY tender, and boy that hurt to have him pushing around!  Before doing any adjustments, he wanted me to get x-rays to see exactly what was going on.

So Wednesday, I got up bright and early to get x-rays taken and returned to the office that evening for the news…the news that my cervical spine (neck) is all sorts of messed up!  Take a look:

A normal cervical spine has a natural curve to it as seen in the photo on the left.  This keeps the head properly balanced and helps maintain good posture.  My cervical spine has no curve to it…lovely.  The lack of a curve pushes my head down and has the muscles in the back of my neck constantly engaged which puts stress on that area.

Now take a look at this awesome image of my neck from straight on…can you say crooked?!?

Oh Hello Crooked Neck!

Seriously, it looks like my neck is about to pop off my body!  And look how much higher my right shoulder is from my left.  I’m just a hot mess.  All of this is most likely an underlying issue that was exacerbated by my injury on Monday, so in a way I can look at this injury as a good thing.  I wouldn’t have gotten this checked out otherwise.

I’ve gone for two adjustments so far and I’m already starting to feel better.  Hopefully with a few more and some rest I will be good as new.  Once the acute problem of my neck pain is under control, I will begin to work on my posture and evening my shoulders out.  In the long run, this will make me a better runner as I will use my body more efficiently.  Now that I something I’m looking forward too!  Sadly, CrossFit might be on hold for me for a while, but I would really like to keep at it since it is the one cross training program I actually enjoy.  I just need to stop pushing myself so hard!

Have you fixed your posture to make you a more efficient runner?

A Pain in the Neck

I must be prone to injury because it seems like I am in constant pain with some part of my body.  Maybe I just push myself too hard and end up overexerting my body.  All I know is that this is getting frustrating…

Yesterday in my CrossFit class I strained my neck.  I’m not sure when or how exactly it happened, but I’m thinking it was while doing kettlebell swings.  This was my first time doing this movement and I think I used too much weight, 35 pounds.  Our workout of the day (WOD) was to repeat the following circuit 4 times with a 2 minute break between each set.

  • 30 seconds kettlebell swings
  • 30 seconds AbMat sit-ups
  • 30 seconds air squats
  • 30 seconds mountain climbers

After the first set, I felt slightly lightheaded, but as usual it was hot in the box so I drank some water and pushed through. I didn’t feel any pain throughout the workout or the cool down stretches.  But when I got in my car, the pain began and it continued to get worse through the night.  So much so that I felt nauseous and completely lost my appetite.  The pain starts at the base of my skull on the left side where is is strongest and radiates down to my shoulder muscle.  Motrin didn’t seem to helping so Barry went out to get me an IcyHot patch.  I kept that on all night and it helped ease the pain a bit.  Needless to say, I had trouble sleeping, but around 3 am the pain started to lessen and the nausea subsided.

Today I’m home and resting.  I have a heating pad around my neck and crossing my fingers this will subside by the evening.  At least my kitties are taking care of me 🙂

It’s been quite the year for me in terms of injuries.  First it was psoas tendonitis, then it was tendonitis in my ankle, and most recently the posterior shin splints I’ve been battling with. This is getting a little old.  I just want to get strong and healthy and I keep hitting these roadblocks along the way!  Can you tell I’m FRUSTRATED?!?!?

Have you ever strained your neck from exercise?  Any tips for faster healing?

Injured Again?!?

Well it’s not as bad as I feared, but I am once again in a state of rest.  Last Thursday I had a pain in my right ankle when I was running.  It continued to persist afterwards, so I iced it and bought a brace that I wore for the next 2 days.  By Sunday I figured I’d be fine to run while wearing the brace, so I laced up and hit the road.  About 3/4 of a mile in, the pain was back, so I headed home cutting my 4 mile planned run short to 2 miles.  At least I’ve learned not to push it when I’m in pain.  This time the pain was unbearable and I could hardly walk for the rest of the day.  This is when the dread began to set in…

I had just got into the groove of training for the WDW Marathon and the last thing I want to do is rest.  Yes, as you can see from my weekly review last week, I was overdoing it.  Five days in a row of lower body cardio is probably not the best thing to do when starting a training program.  But still, this was discouraging.

I was able to get an appointment with my orthopedist yesterday, who confirmed that it was just tendonitis which is easily curable with rest, ice and anti-inflammatories.  Because of my colitis I can’t take prescription anti-inflammatories, so the doctor prescribed a topical medication called Voltaren Gel.  I keep calling it Voltran Gel, but sadly it is only this:

And not like this:

Anyway…I have to apply the gel 3-4 times a day along with ice a few times as well.  This along with no running for 5-7 days and I should be good as new.  All in all, it’s much better news than I was expecting and I can live with taking a another week off.  At least this is in the beginning of my training plan, so I have enough time to recoup.

In the meantime, I’m going to focus on strengthening my legs, including my feet and ankles.  Squats, lunges, heel raises and stretches are all in my future.  Interestingly, there is an article in the August issue of Runner’s World on strengthening your feet and ankles with exercises that help develop the “muscle control you need to prevent overuse injuries.”  Sounds like just what I need!   The exercises include Single-Leg Directional Hops, Three-Point Lunges, Squat Jacks, and Single-Leg Mountain Climbers.  These look intense, but I will try them out when my ankle gets a little stronger.  I also found this great article on their website about the benefits of strength training barefoot to prevent injury.  Interesting theory and something I might try.

Has anyone else suffered from tendonitis in your foot and ankle?  Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent it from reoccurring? 

The Joys of Shin Splints

I’m sure your can sense the sarcasm in the title of this post.  Shin splints are the antithesis of joyful.  They are excruciating and all too common for runners.  I’ve had a few issues with shin splints in the time that I’ve been running and it seems like they have recently made a triumphant return.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling a slight pain on the inner side of my left shin, but it wasn’t until last night when both legs went into full shin splint overdrive that I knew I had to focus on healing this area of my legs again.

Shin splints are a way of describing pain in the lower shin area of the leg and most commonly is isolated to the front inside of your shin (tibia).  The symptoms can range from a dull ache during exercise to feeling tender to the touch at all times.  I’m lucky to suffer from both of these symptoms. Yay me!

Numerous factors can cause shin splints, including running on hard surfaces, overpronation of the feet, inadequate footwear, swollen muscles from overuse, or stress fractures.  But the most common cause of shin splints can be seen in the image to the right.  The periostium is a sheath surrounding the tibia bone.  This can become inflamed from overuse and friction on from the muscle…ouch!

So what do you do when shin splints pop up?  I’ve found a few tips and exercises that have worked for me in the past.  Time to pick these up again…

1. Ice, ice, and more ice.  Ice works miracles for inflammation.  Applying an ice pack for 20-30 minutes after exercise can do a world of good.  I’ve also recently found cold baths to be very helpful.  When the pain persists, I try to ice at least once a day even if I’m not exercising.  This is something I need to get better with.

2. Pain relieving gels.  These are products, such as BioFreeze and Perform (over-the-counter version), that can be helpful for temporary relief during and after exercise.  I’m interested in this new Bengay Zero Degrees product.  Has anyone tried it?  You keep it in the freezer and apply as needed.  Interesting concept…

3. Arch supports for your shoes.  A main cause of shin splints is overpronation, which is excessively rolling your foot inward as you run.  Orthotics, whether over-the-counter or custom made ($$), can help correct this and in turn help your shin splints.

Look…they come in fun colors!

4. Compression Sleeves.  These increase blood flow in your legs, which keeps your muscles warm and helps recovery.  I have yet to try these, but I have been considering it more lately.  I know many runners that swear by them during their races, and after my calf and shin pain following my last half marathon, I think they could really help.  For more information, check out this detailed look at compression socks over at The Science of Running.

5. Stretching!  This is something that has really helped me with my shin splints and other issues I’ve had while running.  I can’t stress enough how important stretching is.  I found this great video over on Fun and Fit that stretches both the shin and calf muscles.  They work together, so you must strengthen both!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW89wDktKCk&w=420&h=315]

I hope these tips help those of you that suffer from shin splints.  I know a few of them, the stretches in particular, have helped me!

Do you suffer from shin splints?  What do you do to ease your pain?

In a State of Rest…

It’s been 7 weeks since my psoas injury and my recovery is taking much longer than I had hoped.  Running the Princess Half Marathon in the middle of my recovery time probably didn’t help, but it had to be done!  No regrets there.  I’ve now completed my 10 sessions of physical therapy and feel about 85% back to normal.  Unfortunately, I’m still under strict orders from my physical therapist to not run for at least another 2 weeks.

Being in this state of rest has been difficult.  It’s gotten even worse since the weather has been so nice.  I just want to get out there and run!  Plus, my Team Challenge training runs have started and I’m feeling disconnected from the team because I can’t join them.  But I know this is important for my overall recovery.  Every time I would run during my therapy, I would aggravate the injury and it would just push me a step back.  All the work and time I had been putting in to PT was just getting erased.  So after the Princess Half and the Sham Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K (more to come on that later), I decided to finally listen to the powers that be and take that rest.  That loooooong 3 week rest.

Well naturally my initial reaction was that I would lose all of my endurance that I have worked so hard to build up over the past few months.  But my therapist thankfully said I could do biking to keep up with my cardio.  Since I don’t belong to a gym, I decided to give Spinning a try again.  If you’re not familiar with Spinning, it is a high energy, indoor cycling class.  The Spinner bikes can be adjusted to multiple resistances to simulate hill climbs, sprinting, etc…  The class works every muscle in your legs and gives you a great cardio workout.  It’s also really fun as it incorporates music and some studios even include visuals to distract you from the task at hand – something I love!  But, I hadn’t taken a Spinning class in over 3 years.  Was I going to be able to keep up?  Was I going to fall off the bike in exhaustion?

I signed up for my first class at Go Green Fitness last week, and I’m so excited to have a place like this close to my house.  It is a dedicated Spinning studio that converts the energy created in the class from cycling into renewable energy.  How cool is that?!  I survived my first class, but not without some huffing and puffing.  I even went back for my second class a few days later.  I had forgotten how fun these classes were and how great I feel afterwards.  And the great thing about it is that I have no pain in my leg during or after the classes!

So here’s my plan while “resting”: Spinning classes 2 to 3 times per week then upper body and core strength training in between.  Fingers crossed this will be enough for me to be able to pick up my training again in 2 weeks and break in those new running shoes!

Have you ever had to take a break from training because of an injury?  Did you lose some of your endurance?

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