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The One Where I Explain My Injuries and Silence the Exercise Naysayers

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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."


"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.


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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I wish I was as smart as you are about knowing when to push yourself and when not to! I have often ended up overtraining and though it gets me to a very healthy weight, I end up with long-lasting injuries. It doesn't seem like I'm doing too much at the time, but later I have to back off. So for me, "slow and steady" is better and I get better results without the "no pain, no gain" thinking. I used to get so mad when my sister would warn me about it, thinking she was a "naysayer" too, but she really just wanted me to closely examine how I was approaching my goals. She was rooting for me, and I think everyone must be rooting for you too! Everyone has a different body, so for some running is the best and for others it's walking and weight-training and for some it's dancing. :) (Not me: Two left feet!) Just pay attention to your body and it will happen. I admire anyone who is trying anything to keep healthy!
    2057 days ago
    I know it doesn't make sense when I tell people that are in joint or back pain that walking exercise is so good for you.

    Keep preachin' girl!! and running too.

    I don't know if you'll see my response but I have really been inspired by you. My sister is now running and loves how it makes her feel. She doesn't love running or any exercise by the way... but she does love how it makes her feel.

    I signed up for the 5K and went a step closer to pushing myself by adding the Jog part - unfortunately this is also the time that I am moving - augh!!!! so I don't have the time to work myself up to Walk/Jog. But I will do the walk part and down the road, very soon will start the Jog or Run part.

    Thank you for sharing your heart, your passion and your journey with us. Be blessed dear SparkFriend
    2074 days ago
    Thank you for explaining the numerous injuries/conditions you're dealing with right now and have dealt with recently. I don't know enough about how to work through injuries to be a naysayer, but I did often think, "Wow, she's tough!" when reading your blogs about working out.

    Now I know why you're being tough -- to make things ultimately better. Great information about OA, too...it's nice to know what we should be preemptively working against as we age.
    2074 days ago
    It is so hard to know when to push and when to let up. My lack of pushing can be related to my mind and not my body, so good for you! You are listening to wisdom in the source of your Physical therapist. What more could anyone expect? My son has arthritis and it would be easy to just tell him to take it easy. But all the arthritis experts say let the person decide when too much it too much. emoticon
    2075 days ago
    Excellent blog! Thanks for clearing things up so that we aren't so worried about you! We all love you and want you to be as healthy as you can!
    2075 days ago
    You really do have it under control! Good for you... And thanks for the explanation. Some of us ae worriers, and when we have friends, we worry about them... And Spark Friends are no exception! So onward, and keep on doing what you are doing! You are inspiring!
    2075 days ago
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    2075 days ago
    Thank you for this blog Leah. My husband struggles with OA and he is always waiting for the pain to lessen in order to attack an exercise regimen, but I know that the exercise would really help with his pain and assist him in losing weight. He is actually very good at dieting, but finds it extremely hard to exercise when he is in pain. He was briskly walking two miles a day on his lunch break, but then a real injury stifled that activity. I am thinking swimming would be a good exercise for him just for this reason. This is an excellent blog! Thank you!
    2075 days ago
    Lots of good information to take to heart. After reading this i certainly dont want to be overweight. It is incredible how much hinderence weight can be in our lives.

    2075 days ago
    I'd much rather live my life to the full than cautiously waste away in fear too. So I push, I hurt, I push some more.
    Great blog!
    Thank you!
    2075 days ago
    2075 days ago
    Great blog and as they say do what you gotta do for you. You are the only person who truly knows what you can handle and what you can't and when things are to much. By all means if you are up for it do it.
    2075 days ago
    I'm the last one to discourage you. I say go for it! You're worth it, and it can only do you good!
    2075 days ago
    I'm the last one to discourage you. I say go for it! You're worth it, and it can only do you good!
    2075 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Your research was great. I know with OA in my hip if I don't keep moving in some fashion, it will "seize up" on me and cause me even more pain. Running is out of the question for me right now. I am still working at it, more slowly than you, but I am still moving. emoticon emoticon
    2075 days ago

    Leah, You are one wise lady !
    You always do your reseearch
    instead of rushing willy-nilly
    and re-injuring yoursel

    for the update. I thought that I must
    have missed a blog somewhere
    because I didn't know the whole story
    of your injuries

    Glad your're better & getting back on track

    emoticon emoticon


    emoticon emoticon
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    2075 days ago
    Well said. I'm a big fan of unconditional, on-going, full-on encouragement. Anything less... is well, not useful. Keep at'em. You're doing great and it sound like you got a great doctor (or doctors).
    2075 days ago
    Your plan for training sounds good. emoticon
    2075 days ago
    I was concerned you might be overdoing. In my case it was projection. Because I did overdo with an injury when I was young, and I wound up having knee surgery. There were long time, but not lifetime repurcussions. All is well now. Enjoy your exercise. Do be careful.
    2075 days ago
    Sounds like you really know what you're doing and I'm glad you have a great sports doctor. You keep going! We're behind you. Don't let anyone stop you now!

    emoticon emoticon

    2075 days ago
    keep on keeping on!
    2075 days ago
    You have done what everyone needs to do: educate themselves about their OWN bodies. Thank you for sharing your story, and keep doin' what your doin'!!
    2075 days ago
    You know what you are talking about so do what is right for you.
    2075 days ago
  • JENNNY135
    Great blog, only you know you. Try not to get upset if you were upset that I said you should go for a short run. I'm in your court and want you to be successful in any form of exercise for a long time. I can totally relate to a problem ankle (broke mine in three places and rip the tendon off) now I have quite a bit of hardward in there. It's been 10years since that happened and still it gets stiff after a long run.

    So be strong and fight the fight, keep exercising and I want to hear all about your upcoming races. I run my first HM this weekend (Sept 22) - wish me well.

    2075 days ago
    Good job stepping up and confronting this injury. It is not the setbacks that define us but our reaction to them. I am dealing with an injury and will be walking a 5k race I had planned to run this Saturday. I may also walk other races scheduled for October, November and December. I was told that I may be able to run my half marathon in January.

    Here's to running after an injury! emoticon
    2075 days ago
    I have so many friends who need to read this. When I was training for the half marathon, I felt like EVERYONE I KNOW told me that they'd love to run, but they can't. Because they have arthritis. In their knees. emoticon I couldn't help but stare at most of them and nod silently while thinking how very very close I was to needing knee surgery for what I call curler's knee just a few years ago. It's not arthritis, but I'm very aware that activity keeps arthritis at bay - if you don't use it as an excuse.

    Good job.
    2075 days ago
    Well said. Listen to the doc, then....go get it :)
    Only you know where your limits are really at. If doc says yes then.....make it happen.

    2075 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this, both because it's inspiring to learn more about how you're dealing with these challenges and because your blog can help others in a similar situation think through the options.

    As someone who is prone to injury (because I'm hyper-mobile and, frankly, hyper clutzy), I amalmost always monitoring the ebb and flow of "ouches". Is that green light (normal, keep going), yellow light (monitor and proceed with caution) or red light (stop now) pain? Am I making it better (tough physiotherapy to strengthen something) or worse (walking on a shin splint). I make mistakes sometimes, but I often get it right. Sometimes it's just an adjustment to a day's workout plan (for example, today I only ran for 45 minutes and then did elliptical for 45 because a hamstring muscle was bugging me). Sometimes, I have to adjust for a planned race (dropping out or walking more/running less). But I keep going.

    One question I do have for you is how you factor diet into the calculation you're doing regarding long distance training. I know that when I train for an endurance event, I eat more (because I'm hungry) and tend not to lose weight (or to lose slowly). And I do eat "treats" more often when I'm training hard. On the other hand, training for a endurance event also motivates me to stick to my exercise program.

    Given that one of your main objectives is to lose weight to reduce the strain that's contributing to OA, but it's also clear that you're truly inspired by endurance athletes, are you finding it challenging to eat enough to train effectively but not so much that your weight loss slows or stops? And if you have figured out the right balance for yourself, can you share what you've learned with us?
    2075 days ago
  • LINDAK25

    2075 days ago
    Don't give up!! emoticon
    2075 days ago
    I know how you feel! You obviously did your homework more than a casual observer. I've had a million people tell me I'm too focused on my diet and exercise *blink, blink* what?! I had 100+ pounds to lose, how can you not do it without dedication. The problem is to others our dedication looks like an unhealthy obsession instead of the getting healthy obsession that it is. emoticon
    2076 days ago
    Great message! It is a fine line and with all the knowledge you gained from your injuries, I am sure you know where that line is. Maybe a career in sports medicine is in your future? I think you explain things better than my doctor ever did. Keep taking care of yourself!

    2076 days ago
  • LEB0401

    ... and the comments are just as good as the blog!
    2076 days ago
    Very helpful!

    I am in my mid 60's and was overweight for most of my life.

    No major mobility problems, except my foot which has been repaired, but I do live with discomfort and stiffness every day.

    I will certainly not stop working out!

    Do you take pain meds?

    2076 days ago
    Love this! You are so right on. My dad, a runner for 30+ years is often told "running is bad for your knees." He quickly responds, "So is obesity" and obviously people don't like that respond. But guess what, people??! It's true!!
    I think there is genuine concern for you and other injuries. But, I also have felt an element of jealousy at times. Maybe it's a jealousy of athletic ability or time commitment to fitness? I'm not sure...
    Anyway, You do you!
    2076 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    This is a very well-written blog. I am inspired to continue losing and moving!
    2076 days ago
    I broke my fibula and a month later did my first half marathon. As long as you've done the research and know what you can handle and can't handle, you have it all in the bag. You probably won't be as fast as you might want to be, but you also aren't letting this totally sideline you like it might with others. If you wake up the morning of a race in horrible pain, I'd probably say skip it, but show up to cheer others on. Otherwise, give it what you can, stop when you need to, walk when you need to, and remind yourself that there are perfectly healthy people out there who will never attempt anything longer than a 5K which, in my book, makes you totally badass.
    2076 days ago
    You better not be talking about me!
    2076 days ago
  • DONNA5281

    You know what you are doing. You are welled informed about what is going on. Do what you need to do.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2076 days ago
    You're obviously well-informed and have made your decisions after serious thought - good for you!

    I wish you all the best in your training, races, rest and healing. With your sort of attitude I'm sure you'll do really well. :-)
    2076 days ago
    You know your body and your limitations. I know what it's like to be afraid that you'll reinjure yourself and I know that you are not foolhardy. Keep on keeping on! It only matters what YOU say is best for you! Rock it!

    2076 days ago
    Very good information. I also get irritated with the naysayers, I always think "you don't know me!" But then I realize that we're here building/taking part in a community and the whole point is to share our perspectives and knowledge and information to help each other along the way. One person telling me to work out more or less or eat more or less or differently is just another perspective that I should consider, and then do what's right for me!

    Have a great day! emoticon
    2076 days ago
    Well put. The bottom line is knowing your own body and being aware of what it is saying. Becoming more acfive is one of the best things I ever did for myself;. You keep going, you are on the right track!

    2076 days ago
    So my left knee has 10% cartilege-arthritis. My right calf has the tendon pain going on, not Achilles but 'ouchy" none the less. I get that being fat adds to the misery, I get that working out relieves stress, helps with the weight loss and basically re-affirms your ability to succeed. I will not tell you what to do. I can offer you some tips from my first half marathon and subsequent 10K's. I found that past about mile 7 for training purposes my body, knee especially was hating it. I tried a brace. ice, heat, Aleve(my bff) pretty much to no avail. My running form when I'm in pain is less than ideal so then I ran funny, got some blisters, tweaked my right calf a bit more. I did my half, it wasn't pretty, nor elegant but I finished. I decided that the half distance was simply too far to train for on this knee of mine. I dropped back to 10K's. For the most part I enjoy them. They are a bit farther then I would run without being chased by a bear and I can cross train for them! Cross training is the magic pill for fat, injury prone folks of a certain age. I read the book, run faster, run less. I adopted it to work for myself. The premise is that whatever you do to cross train you need to do at the SAME intensity as your run. Therefore a heart rate monitor is an ideal accessory. I had a fantastic 10K in May with running 3 miles at a stretch and doing the elliptical for the other 3 miles. Illness, aches and pain dulled my training and I basically just ran the same race last weekend. I killed my back for the first time ever, because my form wasn't great-I was blah and tired and overall not feeling it. By all means don't stop what you're doing, just be aware there are other methods to accomplish the same thing that are a tad bit easier on the chassis!
    2076 days ago
    Great rationale - and I love the title "The One...." like all of the Friends episodes :)
    2076 days ago
    Glad you put this out there. You know your body better than any of us. Hope it gets better over time.
    2076 days ago
    You are a smart lady ...and no one knows your body better than you do.
    I'm sure that if your body complains, you will listen to it and do another form of exercise to keep your progress going. There are lots of ways to keep joints mobile and still boost your metabolism. You go Lady. Go for it
    2076 days ago
    Good for you! I am one of those people who always cautions people to be careful - not to walk after dark, not to overdo it, etc. And many times, my family has yelled at me for being a "hypocrite" because they think running with a knee injury is very bad for me, and that there are better ways to get in shape.

    I'm with you -- it's YOUR body and you know what's best for you! Running has really helped me strengthen my knee, as have the lunges and other ST exercises I do. It didn't do any additional damage, it helped me heal -- and I think you'll find that it will do the same for you!
    2076 days ago
    This is good-to-know information for runners and non-runners alike. Just because we are a bit dinged or bruised doesn't mean we have to revert back to our old life of sitting around.

    You know your body and you have enough sense to navigate around these minor setbacks.

    Keep on a rockin!
    2076 days ago
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