Saturday, February 5, 2011

Aches and pains

I have discovered it takes a team of people to keep me running, starting with an osteopath, physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist and podiatrist just to name a few.

When you run twice a day and put in about 100 miles a week, your body takes a beating. There is a fine line between hard work and over-training. You would be hard pressed to find a runner who has not had some sort of injury or pain. Elite runners are no exceptions, and are probably more injury prone because we are always pushing our bodies to the edge.

In high school I experienced my first athletic injury. I had pain in my lower leg and ended up seeing a physical therapist. I was so impressed with how they helped me that I decided I wanted to go to physical therapy school. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, I received my master’s degree in physical therapy from Elon University in North Carolina.

The great thing about being a physical therapist is that I now understand my body more than the average runner. I can treat myself for many common injuries. I have so many books, tools, equipment, and devices in my garage that I could easily start my own clinic.

Unfortunately, I can’t treat every problem. One of my biggest challenges has been dealing with my feet. I have had horrendous bunions since I was little. I remember in high school getting a physical for sports. The doctor took one look at my feet and ran out of the room.

He came back in with my mom and asked her if she had ever seen my feet. She took off her shoes and asked, “Do they look like this?” You can’t fight genetics.

While I was training for my first marathon in 2003, I started to feel some pain in one of my toes. It was bearable when I was running, but when I walked and pushed off it, it felt like someone was stabbing my toe with an ice pick.

Little did I know this pain would last three years and be there every step. It was diagnosed as metatarsalgia, which is a fancy word for toe pain.

Pregnancy for me was really a blessing in more ways than one. It allowed my body some much needed healing time.

Strangely, even though I am in my mid-30s, I am feeling young again. Other than a freak muscle pull a few month ago, I am injury and pain-free. It’s nice to go out the door and enjoy every step. Having been through years of pain, I don’t take it for granted.

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