Saturday, February 23, 2013

Undetermined Injury

The week leading up to a PR distance race - meaning the first time I race a new distance or racing into the unknown is particularly stressful because the self-pressure to finish the race is incredibly high.  As for taper craziness, the week leading up to the 100 miler was a typical taper week for me - you know, worrying about things that are totally out of my control, like the weather, getting sick or anything that would keep me from getting to the starting line.

Once race eve arrives and the forecast is fixed and I haven't gotten sick or suffered a freak injury, first and foremost I am thankful, and next my thoughts move directly to worrying about sustaining an injury or getting sick during the race or anything that would prevent me from getting to the finish line.

So, naturally, when I get to the finish line, I am incredibly grateful  -- and that is exactly how I felt when I received my buckle.

I needed that preface because the rest of the post may sound like whining ...

I realized going in that I might walk away (pun intended) from my 100 mile adventure with an injury of some sort, and honestly, I was just hoping it wouldn't be a broken bone from tripping in the dark.  I was so incredibly grateful during the race that I didn't have even a single angle roll (big improvement for me!) and I only stubbed my toe a couple of times.  I was hurting at the end of the race, but hey, it is a hundred friggin miles, it should hurt a little, right?

Well, here we are three weeks later and my knee is still hurt, and what's worse for me as a type-A planner, the ART doctor is not sure what is wrong with it.  I have been foam rolling, stretching and getting ART a couple of times a week for the better part of two weeks now and my knee has not improved at all. 

I can bike, do the elliptical, yoga and some P90x, but running?  I can't make it more than a quarter of a mile without the stabbing pain that makes me pull up lame.  I am thankful to at least have other forms of exercise that do not hurt, but I want to run again, or at least know when I will be able to run again!

The pain is odd - stabbing/fire pain on the outside of my knee and near the fibular head, that comes when my knee is bent, typically after walking downstairs, walking after extended periods of driving, crossing my legs for too long or sleeping with my knee bent.  I haven't tried to run through it because I have been trying to be good and I certainly don't want to exacerbate it.

I have "passed" all of the clinical test, meaning I exhibit no pain when asked to push or resist the doctor at various angles.  That should be good news because it should mean that I do not have a tear or anything "serious", but if it were my IT band, it should be getting better by now, and honestly, my right leg (the side of the injury), is feeling pretty darn loose otherwise.  I do have muscle imbalances - strong quads and weak glutes, so I am working on strengthening my glutes, but my knee pain still eludes me.

I had x-rays done, which as expected, showed nothing, other than my right leg is 3 mm shorter than my left leg, so I need to add a lift to my right orthotic.  Good to know.  X-rays were step one before potentially getting an MRI if the pain doesn't stop.  So what's next in the mean time?  A week of seeing how things go with a re-evaluation the first week in March, which will be a month post race.

So, while I not-so-patiently wait to get better, I try to remind myself that this too shall pass, to be thankful for a successful race and to enjoy some much needed unstructured training and time off. 

Although, honestly, all of that would be easier to swallow, if I knew what was wrong so I knew how to fix it ...  

Oh, and ironically, I vaguely remember telling my pacer Eric I wasn't go to run for 2 months after the race - runner's intuition?

Have you had an undetermined injury and how did you overcome it?


Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I rarely go to a doctor these days when I feel injured. I used to play the advocate for "go to the doctor with any pain," but after multiple injuries that went completely undiagnosed, I found I'm better doing it on my own; not to mention that gives me more money for gear.

Sorry to hear they haven't figured it out yet. That really is the kicker. If you knew what it was, you'd know what to do at least. Hang in there and maybe it'll go away randomly never to return.

Here's to some luck!!

sallyaston said...

I hope your knee gets better. Just take some down time and see what happens. In my limited experience, I can tell you one thing, trying to "fix" an injury with aggressive rehab is sometimes the worst thing to do....sometimes it just takes time and patience...something we triathletes/endurance athletes are not always very good at!
Congrats again on the race! :-)

Kacie Darden said...

This sucks, but I totally understand. After my double iron BOTH of my legs were stress fractured, which sucked--but I did get better. Sometimes you are just playing with fire when you go really long, but I am SURE you will come back stronger!!!

Kacie Darden said...

Oh, but I would give you opposite advice from above. Keep seeing people. Go get advice from someone new. Try everything. Throw darts until somthing sticks :-)

Rossettrunner said...

Hi! Had 5 years of running and recently completed 100mile run and hence 5 years of injuries. Visited every physio in town - they all have a different theory.
Heres what works for me - I hope some of it works for you:
2 weeks complete rest from cardio - anything to do with legwork, and instead:
a) 20 minutes of stretches twice a day - the exact stretches vary but calf, quad, hip flexor, piriformis, achilles usually included (probably ITB stretch for you also). I'm guessing hip flexors and itb will be involved, google the stretches for each and do them religiously.

b) Yoga - as a guy I held off this but there are so many good yoga workouts on youtube now i'm a complete convert
c) Pilates - awesome core strengthening quicker than any gymwork can achieve.
d) If your still looking for a challenge lift weights (arms only).

Then back to cardio - train gentle for further 2 weeks u may have to start at 10-15min blocks to make sure the knee has time to strengthen - when knee can do 15 mins 3-4 times a week for a full week without pain - go to 30 etc.

I am not professionally medically qualified or anything but this has totally transformed my longevity.

Coleman Lindner said...

It’s hard to have undetermined injury. You wouldn't know if the injury is serious, and you wouldn't know what treatment to apply. If you have this condition, what you have to do is to just follow what your doctor will prescribe. Don’t try to do things that could worsen the injury. Don’t think too much about the injury because it’ll only contribute to the pain you’re feeling as well.
Coleman Lindner @ U.S. Health Works Medical Group