I've been irritated lately by naysayers. In particular, people who will comment on my Facebook or SP status and caution me not to overdo it with my exercise, etc because I might "permanently injure" myself if I keep working out. Now, I am not angry at these specific people because I understand that they are just saying these things because they care for me and they are concerned that I will do harm to myself. Who could be angry at someone for LOVING them? Haha.
But I realized that I have not ever clearly explained what is going on with my ankle, so naturally, if I were an outsider and saw me working out so much WITH an "injury", I'd be worried too!
So, to clear up the confusion and for those who actually care, I'd like to explain my "injuries" and also defend my decision to continue to consistently work out and stay registered for my 10k and half marathon, which will take place in 2 weeks and 4 weeks, respectively.
My ORIGINAL injury (the one that required the non-weight bearing treatment and had me in a boot for 4 weeks) was a bone bruise on my talus (ankle) bone. This was caused by my fibula (big bone in my leg) repeatedly hitting the talus over and over for a few months whenever I ran. On average, when you run, your knees take about 3 times your weight in force (which means, my knees and ankle were handling over 650 lbs of force every run). This injury was a direct result of my weight and obesity. THIS injury is healed. It is gone and I have not had any recurrence of it.
The SECONDARY "injuries", for which I have received physical therapy and ongoing treatment are linked to each other: tendinitis (posterior tibular, NOT achilles) and osteoarthritis.
According to the interwebz ( www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pub
), "tendinitis is inflammation, irritation, and swelling of a tendon, which is the fibrous structure that joins muscle to bone. Tendinitis can occur as a result of injury (ding ding ding!), overuse, or with aging as the tendon loses elasticity."
"Symptoms are pain and tenderness along a tendon, usually near a joint, and pain that is worse with movement or activity
The goal of treatment for tendinitis is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Rest or immobilization of the affected tendons is helpful. The application of heat or cold to the affected area can help. Physical therapy that stretches and strengthens the muscle and tendon is essential. This can restore the tendon's ability to function properly, improve healing, and prevent future injury."
The #1 treatment for tendinitis is....WEIGHT LOSS.
In my case this past week, I've been icing my ankle as much as I can, faithfully doing my physical therapy exercises and working out with other forms of activity that don't irritate my tendon. It is starting to feel better, but I will not run on it until it is 100%. I don't know about you, but I think a ruptured tendon sounds pretty dang horrific. I'm not a complete idiot. LOL.
Unfortunately, if it was as simple as tendinitis, I'd be one of a multitude of runners and many other athletes that deal with this same issue on a regular basis. My problem, though, stems from another issue that is much more chronic.
(full text here: www.emedicinehealth.com/
"Pain, stiffness, and crunching in the joints: these are the typical signs of osteoarthritis (OA). It happens to most people when they get older, and some are already having joint problems in middle age.
If you have painful osteoarthritis, it can be harder to get enough exercise and you may gain more weight. And if you gain more weight, it could make the OA worse.
Our joints take a lot of wear and tear during our lives, and this becomes noticeable with age. As we age or if we have had an injury in a joint (hello!), OA will often develop. If you have OA in a joint, it means that some parts of the joint have been damaged, especially the cartilage. The cartilage is a tough kind of tissue at the end of bones where they meet to form a joint. This can cause pain and problems with movement in the joint. And when the cartilage is not able to work as it should, other parts of the joint and the muscles have to work harder to try and manage movement. Cartilage itself is not sensitive to pain, but the muscles and other tissues in and around the joint are."
AND THIS IS THE REASON I AM NOT GOING TO LET UP ON MY WORKOUTS:
"Other than getting older, being very overweight (obese) is the biggest risk factor for OA developing or getting worse. There is a complex relationship between OA and being overweight. Being very overweight puts a lot of strain on the joints. And it also often slows people down and makes it difficult for them to move. If overweight people also have OA, and they are stiff and in pain, they might get even less exercise and put on more weight.
On top of that, being more inactive makes your muscles less fit and other parts of the joints stiffer. When the muscles around the affected area get weaker, it is another risk factor for OA getting worse.
SO WHILE SOME PEOPLE MIGHT THINK THAT EXERCISE ITSELF ADDS EXTRA WEAR AND TEAR TO THE JOINTS, IN FACT BEING OVERWEIGHT AND INACTIVE IS MORE OF A STRESS. IT MIGHT NOT SEEM SENSIBLE TO EXERCISE A DAMAGED JOINT, BUT WHEN THE DAMAGE IS DUE TO OA, IT IS ACTUALLY NECESSARY TO KEEP THE JOINT MOBILE AND TO KEEP YOUR WEIGHT DOWN.
Experts often recommend that people who are overweight and have OA try to lose about 10% of their body weight. If you can manage to do that within 3 months, then you could expect to considerably increase your mobility. But even after losing 5% of your body weight within 5 months, you can expect to notice a difference.
Many different kinds of exercises have been studied for people with OA, including brisk walking, aerobics, bike-riding and swimming. In general, these can help reduce the disability that OA causes.
Exercise is not a cure-all for OA and it will not solve all the problems that this condition causes. But losing weight and incorporating exercise into your life can help stop your joints from getting worse, and help you live better with osteoarthritis."
Anyway, I hope that helps for anyone who has been concerned. You see, I have an excellent sports medicine orthopedic doc and I also read quite extensively on all things related to my body and my training. I am in this for the long run (pun intended) and I hope to triathlon and run until I'm dead. Therefore, I will always listen to my body and I will never intentionally hurt it.
There are times when, in a race or competition, an athlete needs to make a choice between pushing through pain or backing off. I can't tell you that I wouldn't push through pain in a race situation. One never knows WHAT would happen in a scenario like this in any sport, but I will promise that I will not knowingly train on an injury if I KNOW it will worsen my condition or shorten my athletic career.
Anyone who is taking this lifestyle seriously will understand that we walk a fine line between caring for our bodies and pushing them just a bit further. Anyone who tells you they have this down to a science is a liar. Sometimes you take a risk. Sometimes you don't. It's life. And I'd much rather live my life to the full than cautiously waste away in fear.