Thursday, January 14, 2010

By Direction

Letters are often signed "By Direction" in the Navy when the Commanding Officer needs to give authority to someone in the chain of command to carry out duties of his position. As I was finishing up my 3rd meeting and 2nd round of the Graston Technique at my physical therapy appointment yesterday, I passed on that authority to my physical therapist. I know myself...and 'myself' will sometimes not use his head when he should and a strict order is sometimes needed. I recognized the need for an 'order' from her before I walked out of her office.

This past Monday, I walked into physical therapy angry, frustrated, and just plain ticked off at the lack of progress with my iliopsoas and adductor muscle strains. I ran less than TWELVE miles last week. You'd think with that kind of pitiful mileage, I'd feel like a million bucks. Nope. Rest was doing absolutely nothing in the healing process. So, I wore that disgust on my face and in my own way, begged and pleaded to her to do whatever it would take to get better. After a few minute run on the (d), treadmill, she made a few observations: with the injury on my upper left leg, my entire body had sorta shaped itself around the damaged area to compensate for it and strengthen the area. Since I injured this, I ran my 3rd 100-miler, my 25th marathon, and a few 20+ mile trail runs. My posture was literally curved to compensate. In addition, all of my leg muscles, top to bottom, were smaller on the left leg because the right leg has been doing all of the work. I also had changed my stride to essentially run inside of a "box" to limit pain/discomfort while running. I knew that full strides irritated the area so I tried to contain the stride. All of this is pretty amazing, isn't it? That body is an incredible machine and really adapted to take care of itself and press on. In the meantime, my hard-headed stubborn self pressed on and refused to back off. This lead to increased scar tissue and soreness and with LESS mileage, I had MORE pain. Hmmm.... Oh yea, that treadmill sucked. I don't know how some of you do it. I hated every second on that contraption. Confirmation yet again that outdoors is where I belong no matter the weather.

After her observation of me and warming up the muscles on the (d)readmill, out came the tools...the curvy, stainless steel, patented tools. The best way I can describe what these tools is this: you know when you put a sticker on your car window and you get those stupid little air bubbles in there and want to get them out? Imagine taking a smooth-edged steel ruler and running it across the sticker to work out the bubbles without tearing the paper. That's basically what Graston does to muscle fiber. It is an aggressive way to break up muscle fiber that is sticking together due to the damage done. This frees the fibers up to promote blood flow and healing. It is totally normal and expected that bruising will occur post-treatment visually in the form of black-n-blue marks. True dat!!!! I had lots and lots of bruising on my inner and front upper left leg where she worked. I just kept talking while she did the treatment to distract myself from the discomfort of it all and before I knew it, she was done...and worn out! It's exhausting for the therapist as well. Before I left, she showed me core exercises to work on as well as giving me a band to help strengthen the upper glutes. Those are weak, too.

So I headed out on a run on Tuesday morning and for the first time in a L O N G time, I had no pain whatsoever!!! Nothing! The morning after and it was gone. I kept holding back the tendency to speed up, too. You see, my optimism can ruin it all. She specifically told me to NOT run hard or fast. It felt so good, though! I wasn't controlling my stride in a box or anything. It felt so natural and I wanted many more than 7 miles. Good thing I had to go to work or I would've kept on going. Afterwards, I was thrilled and couldn't wait for yesterday's 2nd treatment. I was sold. "Hurt me, again!" I was thinking. "This stuff works!" I did her exercises on Tuesday night as instructed and when I visited yesterday, she once again pulled out the tools and much of the bumpy, "rumble strips" of scar tissue she felt before were gone. She felt some and worked on them but the session didn't last long. Afterwards, I iced the area until it got numb then was done. She had me do some more exercises to test my core strength which we found is coming along but not where she wants it yet. She wants me to be able to do a few where I lay down with my head up, legs up, and then roll to my belly without hands/head/legs ever touching the ground. She said that until I can do that, I can't ramp up my mileage. Ahhhh....a goal. I'm game.

So just before I left, I asked about the Run for Regis 50K this Saturday. She wants me to run it conservatively and report back with how it feels. She's been talking about doing the 1/2 marathon only but never really "ordered" me. This is where I had to issue a "By Direction" order. "I will do whatever you tell me to do. If I feel the pain return, I'll stop. But, if I run 13 and it feels great, can I continue?" I asked. I was essentially asking for an order because without it, I just know I'd run the whole 31.2 mile 50K if I feel good. "Stop. Do NOT run more than 13.1," she replied back. "Just do the 1/2 and then we'll talk about it next week." I needed her to be strict with me, especially since this event is no more than a fun run for me and doing less is perfectly acceptable. The ultimate goal is in May and in order to prepare for that, I need to be 100% by late February so I can kick off training. WHATEVER that takes...I'll do it. This 'Type A' stubborn personality needs bossed around from time to time and I recognized the need for it yesterday. I just know that if I feel good, I'll just 'go for it' which would not keep the big picture in mind but instead would be living in the moment only. Not good.

So I'm out the door for a light run this morning which serves as good therapy the day after a treatment since it'll warm up the muscles and promote more blood flow. This Sunday, I'm just going to run the 1/2 marathon as ordered and take along my new Canon D10 and try to capture a lot of the race in pictures. HAVE FUN is the order of the day! Of course, a cool new Brooks Run for Regis 1/4 zip tech shirt and homemade chili afterwards. Looking forward to it!

Happy Trails, everyone!


Mike said...

Nick...I believe I am running the half only as well...if you want to really keep your pace down you can run with me...LOL.

Nick Billock said...

Roger that, JetFuelBurner! See you there! It's chili time and a balmy 40F forecast!

Lloyd said...

Take it easy, Nick. If the day only allows 5 or 8 miles, so be it. The Run for Regis format is suited for this. Furthermore, slippery ice or snow is likely not ideal for your wonky adductor/ilopsoas. I don't suggest testing it too strenuously.

Remember that this is not an A-race. Save it for a future date.

Good news is that you've made progress and that you're closer than before to turning the corner.