Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Finding a happy medium

It was a year ago this week that I started physical therapy.  It was after almost 4 months of treatment for compartment syndrome caused by an airline that decided to cram me into coach for 8 hours when I medically require first class because of my leg issues.  A total of seven months of physical therapy (covered in part by insurance, imagine if it wasn't!) and chiropractic care and $2000 later, I was finally healed.

I remember at one point I told the chiro how I was going to have to do PT for the rest of my life.  He said I wouldn't, that it was a matter of getting the hip and butt strong and then maintaining it doing other exercises.  He's also a personal trainer so I assumed his thoughts were correct.  When I do PT on a regular basis, I feel my glutes engage on walks or when I'm coming up from doing a deadlift.  But I admit, it takes a good 20 minutes to go through the entire PT session if I'm not working some of the moves into our workout like lunges or squats so adding it on to an already 45-60 minute session could get daunting when I was in the thick of it.  I was able to find a happy medium at 3x week doing it either before or after our strength sessions.  This kept the gluteus medius (middle arse) and hips strong and kept me out of pain.

After our vacation in May, I'm sure I probably let PT slide a bit from 3x a week to more like once or twice a week.  My legs seemed to be fine and then my focus became lifting heavier.  I was doing a lot more lower body strength workouts than before and since the chiro seemed to think doing the PT regimen wasn't a requirement for the rest of my life, I assumed the lower body strengths were enough.  When we began adding HIIT to the front end of our strength sessions, I felt really good.  I felt like it took my strength training to another level and being able to do the high impact version of the HIIT's made me feel invincible.  At that point, PT was out the window.  I mean hello, I was doing lower body 1-2x week which included squats and lunges so why would I need to continue it?

Well two things happened that added up to my big time mobility issue.  Lunges and squats do not a strong booty make.  They're nice for supporting exercises but clam shells and bridges along with the ankle mobility balance board stuff is what my body requires...period.  You add on a large lady doing jumping lunges and jump rope to a body that is just not equipped to do it, and I ended up with shin splints and foot fascia that failed me.  We're not talking plantar fasciitis, I mean every component of my leg from the hip down came together for the perfect my body seems to excel at.  The breaking point this time was three days of hard workouts.  I was on week three of HIIT, a Fitness Blender lower body that left me hobbling the next day and a 3 mile walk on asphalt the following day.  (Asphalt absolutely kills my legs but it's everywhere so you know, adapt already legs!)  The next day I couldn't bear weight on my left ankle.  Actually for three days.  The chiro didn't diagnosis me with shin splints but I remember what those felt like, it's just lower than usual and coupled with the bunged fascia.  Foam rolling has become the only thing that brings temporary relief and I think yesterday I finally found the spot responsible for the front of ankle pain that is taking me down.  I'll have to attack it daily to keep it from tightening back up.  What has become glaringly obvious is I do not have a choice to slack on PT...ever.  Three times per week for the rest of my life, no exceptions.  It doesn't matter how heavy I lift or how many lunges and squats I do.  If I'm not taking the time to do clam shells and bridges and balance exercises, I've got mush azz.  I didn't even know it happened until I paid attention to doing lunges last week and couldn't feel my glutes anymore.  It really confirmed it when I tried my star excursion balance exercise and couldn't complete 1/3 of a single set on my left side.  So yeah, proof right there.

I also realize that rolling only when I feel pain defeats the purpose.  My current rolling routine is taking 15-20 minutes every day.  So if I'm adding back in PT, that's a minimum of 30 minutes on top of workouts.  We also have decided that any walking is going to mean when we come home, go down and roll.  We did that after I did a test walk last week on asphalt and the Mr felt amazing in comparison to how he usually feels the next day.  I felt a little better but I hadn't found that spot yet at the time so I'll have to try it next week when I re-test on asphalt hopefully after a week of rolling out the mangled mess that are my muscles and tendons.

I'm on year five of leg issues and it is totally crappy to go from one problem to another.  While I appreciate the medical professionals I have in my corner, you have to find your own happy medium between what they tell you and what you know works for you.  While going through both PT and chiro treatment at the same time, it was interesting (if not a little maddening) to hear each side give differing opinions on the others approach.  My chiro was respectful of the path the PT was taking but he didn't agree with me needing to do PT forever.  (She never told me I did either but never said I didn't so that was never really made clear.)  But given my current circumstance, I know that PT will have to be part of at least half of my week to maintain my balance and hip/glute strength- no exceptions.  Other people may not have to but I do.  *kicks pebble*  Then other things he flat out told me don't do, like the calf raises which I totally agreed with him because we were in this situation because my calves were locked.  I didn't need to build them up any more.  Whereas the PT would listen to what I was doing at the chiro and then start slamming the validity of laser therapy and ultrasound which is what I was having done.  While that didn't help that specific situation wholly, I can tell you that it does help me just maintaining my legs.  Every 3-4 weeks is when my legs give up and when he jacks that ultrasound up and does some of his myofascial release, I leave feeling better.  That's fine if she thinks it's a load of crap but I'm also not having 3" needles jammed in my legs at $100 a pop for the rest of my life.  (I can still feel the holes in my calf muscles!  Kind of like when you let the earring hole in your ear close up.)

We turn to medical professionals to help heal us when our body is being a jerk but sometimes you have to truly evaluate all of the tools you've been given by them and cut your own path.  If you can't find a way between the black and white advice they give, make one that suits your own unique situation.

What is something your body feels if you slack on it?  Have you had doctors with differing opinions of your treatment?

Like this post? Don't miss another one...subscribe via email or RSS feed. (Or you can follow me on Facebook )


  1. Finding the right balance definitely is the key here and I think you're finding it. The same is true for my shoulder. I have to keep up some PT or it regresses a bit. It's still not even completely 100% back to normal anyway so it's not like I should have ever stopped anyway. So keeping up PT on a regular basis will basically be something we have to just do with our other workouts for good. But if it wards off the bad stuff then it's worth it!

  2. I definitely think it's wise to find what works best for you. Getting differing opinions is very frustrating, but it also gives us ideas on what to try and what to say no to. For me, if I don't do my myofascial stretching daily like I should, I'm screwed. My ankles feel it the worst with the Achilles pain, so then my stride is tighter and that hurts the IT bands. I've also been having pain in my shoulder because of how I sleep, and by the time nighttime comes I forget about stretching and am too tired when I do remember! Gah! I've really been feeling it this week with my feet though, so I need to make the time to do the full 5-minute stretches on each body part. I have no excuse since I can do it while watching tv at the end of the night. I'd be done in 45 minutes and probably wouldn't be so kinked up in the morning, either.


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate your time! (Heads up though...disrespectful or spam comments will be deleted.)