Friday, November 18, 2016

TMTS and landscaping

I am barefoot most of the time, both inside and outside of the house.  I have taken the dogs for walks barefoot (1.25 miles. 2 km).  The soles of my feet are quite ready for running.  As I posted earlier, I was very enthusiastic about running my intervals in the driveway.  Excited to be rebuilding.  Then it happened, and I should have known better, did know better but thought I was immune to it, Too Much Too Soon (TMTS).

You see, the soles of my feet are well conditioned for running barefoot.  I am right about that.  I wear pretty much only "zero-drop" footwear (my Xero sandals are my favorite).  I have moccasins for working in the yard which have leather soles -- not the rubber soles.  Even when I am not barefoot, my feet function as though they are bare -- from a function perspective they are unhindered.  The TMTS?  Oh, well, hmmm, that has to do with STRESS LOADING.  Despite all the time I spend in bare feet, the stress load of running is at least 2.5 times that of walking (up to 4X at higher paces), and there is really no way to condition for that kind of loading except by doing so GRADUALLY.  Going from zero to a half-a-mile (0.8 km) of sprint intervals is TMTS, apparently.  I really kind of knew that, but I was hoping I'd get a pass on this one.  I did not.  My feet complained very loudly about it.

I have not spent the time since my last post being idle.  I finished our primary landscaping around our house which involved moving six cubic yards of mulch (4.6 m^3), planting almost 30 plants, trenching drainage, overseeding grass areas, distributing pre-emergent, and leveling places in this new lawn with topsoil.  Physically demanding labor, spending hours per day for a week.  At my age, every one of those days was counted as a workout.  We have the grandchildren this weekend, and all my energy and time will be spent on them.

Next week I will begin anew.  This time, I will slow my pace (reduces the loading) and continue the intervals.  I will listen more closely to my body as well.  I now know that I get ZERO passes on being foolhardy.  OTOH, with my formerly torn left bicep ready for regular workouts, and my hamstring recovered, I will revamp my exercise routines to be more rounded and complete.

Keep moving!  (just do so, wisely) 😁

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Run & Stretch workout, and a PT workout the next day

I  know that I said I would take it slow, and only do two interval sets on my first running workout this week.  Here's the deal: I decided to do the intervals on my S-shaped driveway which is a little more than 100 meters from the garage door to the street.  I have measured it with my surveyor's wheel.  I was excited and started my workout -- the first one on my new Forerunner 630.  The first two sets had some expected discomfort, but less than expected.  I ran sets three and four, and the right leg had warmed up and felt good.  Then it hit me -- in my excitement to do the intervals on my drive, I forgot the heart-rate monitor which also has the tech for the running dynamics!  I admit to being a bit of a fitness-tech geek, but I am only interested in stuff I can really use in my training.  I went inside, put on the monitor, and re-did the four sets, in essence doing the same mile workout I did previously (but about 20% faster this time) which had me hurting for a couple of days afterwards -- but I got my running dynamics on that second four sets of intervals!  LOL!  I did follow-up with a good stretch routine.

The hamstring held up well, though it did voice a light opinion or two the rest of the day.  I awoke this morning, and was in the midst of taking the dog out, making coffee, serving coffee, and cleaning up after coffee when I realized I had no discomfort in the back of my knee.  I was excited for my PT workout!  The PT workout went very well, which included 20 minutes on the Nordic-Track and two sets of bridges and squats, both using the stability ball.  Stretching is a daily activity now, post-workouts.

The new running dynamics of the Forerunner 630 over the old 620 include a ground-contact balance check.  I suggested such a measurement four years ago, and although I do not claim to the the originator of this implementation, I am glad to see the information available.  I am just a little outside the green (good zone), with a 51/49 split favoring the left side, which might have something to do with the right leg issues.  It also measures the economy of the stride, taking a ratio of vertical oscillation (how much one moves up and down during the stride) to the stride length.  I scored very well on that one, as I am a pretty "flat" runner, typically oscillating only two inches (five centimeters)  during my stride.  Having the Forerunner 630 is like having a coach, and good running form is the most important aspect of injury-free running.

A little note on the re-attached biceps:  I did my three super-sets with both arms (one super-set is 10 reps of curls palms-up, 10 reps palms-down, 10 reps of palms-in).  I am glad to say it is time increase the intensity of the workout.  I will probably go with pyramid sets, starting at level six.  The number of reps in a pyramid set is the square of the level number.  I will "build" a pyramid with each type of curl, each type done in concurrent sets.  PT for the biceps is over; I am working out again!

I am looking forward to the run session tomorrow...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Basketball and rehab...

Basketball is a fast sport, involving rapid acceleration, equally rapid deceleration, twists (knees don't twist, so don't drive to the hoop and twist off the same leg -- don't ask), and a myriad of body-jarring activities seldom associated with rehabilitation of anything.

Shooting hoops, on the other hand, is therapeutic.  Setting up your shot, visualizing the situation and opponent, operating as fast or slow as you like, and then, you take the shot.  Sometimes it is nothing but net, and your fantasy is realized.  Most times; however, if you are like me, it clangs and ricochets in an unpredictable manner, bringing back to the real world in milliseconds.  You need to ascertain the direction of the carom quickly, because this is at your house and there is a slope behind your basketball goal.  If the ball is not retrieved as soon as possible, it will likely hit the slope and be launched into the woods.  Nothing like a walk into the woods to get your basketball to destroy any hoops fantasy for the rest of the day.

In other words, a little bit of hustle is involved, some quick moves, and sometimes a slow jog to get the ball when it has caromed away from the woods.  All are good tests for hamstring tendons on the mend, without committing to a possible TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) violation.  BTW, before going to rehab, the same "shooting hoops" would leave me limping for a day or two.

Next week begins a tighter regime.  I will continue my PT workouts every other day, stretch on all days, and "run" on off-PT days.  By "running" I mean 100m intervals.  Doing eight sets was TMTS before, so now I will start with two sets and build from there.  Gradual progress, healing (not hurrying), rebuilding -- it all takes T-I-M-E.  I need to progress without violating TMTS principles.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Back to PT workouts (and attempt running again, later)

Well, the back of knee pain returned, and with it pain in the biceps femoris tendon.  Low level pain, somewhere between a one and a two, but pain just the same.  It felt better the following day, but lingered afterwards. 

I went back to the PT workouts, and it "stimulated" the injured areas, as before I was able to get to "0x0" (no pain before/after workouts).  I need to continue these workouts until I get to "0x0" again, and then, rather than use just normal high-level activity to evaluate, continue until I have put four to six such "0x0" workouts together before I run again.  Running puts about 2.5 times the body weight in strain on the legs, so I need to keep this in mind, increasing the intensity of the PT workouts after I reach the first "0x0" workout.

I will end on this note: The intervals on which I did run felt great.  Sure, I could feel the pain in the back of the knee again, but it just felt great to be moving like that again.  It motivates me to be more dedicated and thorough in getting back to the running state again.

Monday, October 10, 2016

First Run (after PT)

Today I ran.

It was an interval workout, 100m X 100m for 2 km, but I ran.  The pacing played somewhere between 8:30 and 11:15 minutes per mile.  I was careful to maintain form and cadence, making corrections to insure I was centered and not favor one side over the other.  Running with my Vibram ELX, I was paying close attention to foot strike.  My cadence remained between 180 and 185 spm, and my vertical oscillation averaged just under 5.0 cm.  Not bad form since I have been out of running since November 17, 2015.

Now the results of this acid test.  I still have pain, discomfort, behind the right knee, in distal tendons of the hamstring muscle complex (HMC).  It is not a debilitating pain, and it caused no change in my running mechanics or walking mechanics post-run.  I stretched both legs after the workout.  The discomfort is still there, so I shall see tomorrow whether or not it recovers.

I did not go from the chair to the run.  I have been able to escalate my activity levels in recent days, peaking at 18,000 steps three days ago.  I had a couple of lighter activities days before the run.  Pain levels were "0 x 0" -- no pain before or after activities.  With that in mind, I thought an easy interval run would be the next level of activity.  I had no intention of doing sprints on the "run" portions of the workout, and wanted to keep it to a slow jog.  I guess the beautiful morning and exuberance in the opportunity to run put me on a faster than "slow jog" pace.  Nonetheless, I knew the running portions would load the hamstring area and back of the knee more than any PT I had done to date.  I felt the loading during the run; I feel it after the run (three hours later).

I have to sow some grass seed today which involves a bit of walking on slopes.  I will monitor the pain level to ascertain the degree of recovery which I receive during normal activities.  I would love to run tomorrow, but I think the wiser thing is to use tomorrow for a PT-type of workout and evaluate before taking the next run.

Coming back will be slow, I know.  The distal tendons of the HMC will need to strengthen, and that will occur through gradual increases in loading.  I need to re-build my aerobic base, which will take about four months.  The light running, with continuation of stretching and rolling, should get be back to full strength soon.  At least that is the plan.

Thanks for coming along.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The formal PT phase is over...

...and now it is up to me alone.

CIGNA has decided that I will have to finish on my own, and I cannot say that I entirely disagree with their decision.  My progress has been very good, and although the pain level is not yet at zero, it will be the strengthening which will take me the rest of the way.  The ASTYM therapy has, perhaps, reached the point of diminishing returns, as is inevitable, anyway.

My therapist has given me exercises to complete -- some daily and some every other day.  Eccentric loading is still painful, and I expect it to improve through exercise.  My first evaluation score, made upon my first arrival, was 14, meaning I was in a lot of pain and very limited.  My second evaluation score, made two weeks ago, was a 63 out of a possible 80.  My therapist was working on a plan to get me to 80 points -- full restoration of range of motion, activities, and zero pain when we got the news that CIGNA said I would have to finish solo.  I have her plan in hand, and now I must execute.  I do have recourse with CIGNA should I not get to that "80" in a month or two.

I am working toward having both my arm and my hamstring at 100% by year's end.  I hope the hamstring can be ready for running by November 1, 2016.  I can work on building the aerobic base via exercise bike and cross-country skier until I am strong enough to use a real bike.  One-legged squats will let me know when I am ready for running.

The quest for wholeness and wellness continues...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The light at the end of the tunnel...

...may not be an oncoming train after all.

I hit an important milestone with respect to the ruptured distal biceps tendon: I completed three curl "super sets" (30 repetitions each) using a ten pound dumbbell. My "super set" is 10 reps each of curls with the palms up, palms down and palms facing inward. Such a workout impacts the biceps and all the forearm muscles. This was my third such workout in the rehab process, but the first one completed within 48 hours of the previous workout -- and with no injury pain. This week, and another week or two at this weight, I can then move up to 15 pounds for a couple of weeks. After that, I will not just be doing rehab work on my arm, but can start a full workout regiment.  This will be my last post on this matter, as this milestone restores me to 90% of normal activities.

Grateful for a good doctor, grateful for your prayers, most grateful for my Great Physician Who is overseeing everything.

My hamstring issue is nearing resolution.  There are times when I have no pain at all, but then again, I am not loading it with running at this point.  Tomorrow is evaluation day at physical therapy, so I will post more after that session.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Feeling encouraged...

Yesterday was, as far as life is now, a "high activity day", with over 12,000 steps recorded on my Vivofit.  I use this number merely as a relative activity level guide, and it is pretty good in that sense.  And lately, as the hamstring and bicep have limited me, it is as good a guide as any since putting on my Garmin 620 is pointless.

I did my PT workout and extended it with a five-minute workout on my "old school" NordicTrack Challenger.  I also included my biceps workout of 10 reps each of palm-up, palm-down, palm-in curls, and three sets of those (90 reps).  The whole workout took about an hour to complete.

I then took the puppies out for a "walk", their first time to walk together on leads.  As expected, it was a hilarious disaster.  They did not like being separated because all they wanted to do is pounce on each other.  They cried as I walked them with my arms extended as though I was doing an iron cross on the rings -- not because of the strain of the leads, but because they could not play 'Bash Brothers".  We only went a couple of hundred yards (meters).  They are 11 weeks old, and such can be expected.

After I put the Bash Brothers in the utility room.  I took a mile walk by myself -- a test for the hamstring.  The time alone was good, and although the hamstring nagged a little from the beginning, it did not get significantly worse.  I really dreaded the afternoon, after the hamstring would have time to tighten again, and getting up and down out of any seating would be painful.  It did, but to a much smaller degree than expected, and I could walk it loose in a dozen or so steps.  This is what improvement looks like.  The next test would be morning, after the hamstring had seven to eight hours of no load.  Pain level was small this morning, a "two-or-three" on the pain scale.  Lifting my heel with a leg curl felt closer to a two.  After being up an hour, the pain level has increased to the three-to-four range when curling.

A few short weeks ago I would have been painfully hobbling about all day after a "high activity day", and sharp pains would arise throughout the day, especially when rising from being seated.  Today, such actions are not without some discomfort, but it is much less than before, and I am encouraged.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The longer road back...

Since my last post with the MRI details, I ran off to South Texas to do some consulting work for six weeks.  I had to walk while doing inspections in the field (uneven and often unimproved paths) and covered anywhere from two to four miles per day in HEAT.  South Texas HEAT.  Measured on-site at 106F (41C) and 30-35% humidity.  Heat Index of 114F (45C) to 119F (48C).  As hot as it was, making my line inspections with a 2.5L hydration pack made the task much safer, as well as wearing very light clothing (even with long sleeves) and a "cowboy hat" -- which may be the most useful tool for protecting the sensitive areas of the face, ears and neck from the sun.  The walking was helpful in some ways, but there were a few days I had to stand-down so my hamstring could recover.

All the above being said, when I got back home, I organized my physical therapy (PT) for my hamstring issue.  I found a PT clinic which specializes in ASTYM therapy, which is the only therapy I found with clinical trial results.  It boasts a 92% recovery rate, with recovery being broadly defined from significant reduction in pain (pain no longer impeding normal activities) to restoration of full activities.  I wanted something which had a real shot at working for me.  The information about ASTYM says it will take 8-10 sessions to achieve its goals.  Each session involves the use of various "tools" to work the tendons along the line of activity (everything which gets triggered when the knee is flexed, for example).  When a tendon is injured, fibrosis occurs to stabilize the tendon, and other muscles and tendons rush to compensate -- all are considered over-worked and injured to some degree, and this is why they focus on the "line of activity".  The tools are used to massage and otherwise work the fibrosis from the tendons, encouraging the fibers to realign, and thus restore flexibility and strength.  It is somewhat painful at times, but after my fourth treatment, I am seeing good results.  My therapist is noticing much improvement from session to session, so I am encouraged that I will eventually put this behind me.  Of course, I have my part to do between sessions, with various stretching exercises and eccentric exercises which also encourage fiber realignment.

I have also begun therapy for my torn distal bicep tendon.  The surgery went well, and the surgeon is pleased and expects full recovery -- though I am required to take things very slowly.  The week and next, for example, I am to do curls using a three-pound dumbbell.  Yes, a THREE-POUND (1.37kg) dumbbell.  Before the injury, I could do a set with a 45-pound (20kg) dumbbell.  After next week I can move all the way up to a FIVE-POUND (2.27kg) dumbbell for two weeks.  Beyond that, he says that I can add five pounds every two weeks.  If all goes well, I should be back to normal strength by the first weekend in December.

Putting the two of these together in terms of restoring normal fitness activities suggests the road will be a longer one than ever before.  Starting over after my broken ankle was not so bad since bones heal more quickly than tendons.  Rebuilding my aerobic base will be a challenge in its own right, but I will also have to rebuild form and body alignment and balance as well.  However long the road is, it will be OK, because it is all good, all geared toward improvement, all healthy.  I just want to run again.

Monday, June 20, 2016

MRI and the knee...

I have captured a couple of pictures of my knee's MRI.  Though nothing is torn or ruptured, there is damage.  I am basically dealing with tendinitis (perhaps becoming more tendinosis) of the biceps femoris tendon (BFT) (see image below).


Rehabilitation will involve analgesics (pain management), static and dynamic stretching, and eccentric exercises.  I had to research the term "eccentric exercises", and specifically how it applies to the hamstring muscle complex (HMC).

Here are the MRI images, with the area of the BFT highlighted in the green box.  You can only tell it is intact (good news), and therefore my pain is from tendinitis and not a torn BFT.  The first image is more toward the front of the knee than the image which follows it:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Knee is improving...

I finally found a way to get my knee to feel better. What it needed was the extended rest.  The way of achieving that extended rest is shown in the picture below:

During the last day of Memorial Day weekend, I was trying to get our wood together from a fallen tree for a bonfire.  I had to flip a rather large log so that I could attach to my utility all-terrain vehicle and pull it to the bonfire.  I had managed to get the log to about 80% of its upright position when it slipped back on me (ground was soft and bark slipped under my hand).  My natural reaction was to try to catch it, and in doing so I ruptured my distal biceps tendon.  The picture above shows my arm week after surgery.  I will spend the next five weeks working on range of motion without lifting anything.  After that, I'll begin the long road back of restoring strength to the arm and tendon. All of this means that I will be able to do very, very little between now and then. Even so, the quiet time that I have been forced to take has worked wonders for my knee. The pain is now isolated to the biceps tendon connecting the hamstring to the knee. I'm using natural analgesics and rest to help that tendon recover.

Despite continual setbacks, there remains much beauty in the world to fuel the desire to push on...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It ain't happening...

...I am still not running.  The tendons behind the knee continue to debilitate me.  I have really taken it easy the last three days, and it feels better, which means there awaits a big chore to complete.  In this case, that chore is moving the remaining heavy cuttings and trunk from a 90 year-old pine tree to our burn site.  I dread it, because I know the strain will agitate my knee again and I will be in pain for a few days, hurting everytime I change positions either sitting or laying.

I am weary of this cycle, and have come to accept the notion that something is torn back there, and it needs medical attention.  I have an appointment with my GP, and he will give me the referral  I need to get a specialist to look at it (such is the way of insurance companies).  I had hoped to rehab this thing by this time, and everytime I get to the point like I am now, when the pain is there, but very manageable, doing anything strenuous -- even mowing the grass -- sends me into a relapse spiral.  I need a more informed course of therapy; I need to know with what I am actually dealing.  If I have to take a month off of any activity, so be it; I have already endured these pain cycles for six months.  If surgery is required then let's get it on and move toward rehabilitation.

I run again; I do miss it so.

Friday, April 8, 2016

About the time you feel you are ready to go again...

...something happens to remind you that you are not quite ready.

Yes, it has been awhile since I posted.  I have been busy being my own one-man  landscaping squad.  It is a good physical test, actually.  I spend a few hours each day (according to my Vivofit2, I also traverse between four and six miles a day) "working" this new lawn and the property in general.  I cut down trees with a chainsaw, cut them into 2-3-foot logs, and haul their debris to our burn area (we live in the country, and we have to burn such debris, as no sanitation service will take the green garbage one can gather out here), I cut down smaller trees and brush with my machete, and occasionally an axe, and then pull them out as though I was playing "tug-o-war" with the brush in which they are entangled.  I mow about 10,000 square feet (~1000 square meters) of lawn with a reel push mower, and rake rocks out of the turf areas with a three-foot (0.9m) landscaper's rake.  I walk up and down steep (up to ~30 degrees) inclines and other uneven terrain.  In short, the outside work at our property is quite the workout, and a good test as to the healing of the right posterior knee.

During one of my breaks yesterday, I was playing a little "one-on-none" basketball.  The basketball goal faces our motor-court area, and the lawn slopes away from the motor-court immediately.  "Air balls" mean you chase the ball into the woods.  Other missed shots might catch the edge of the motor-court and be launched down the slope and into the woods.  Hustling after missed shots can save you a trip to the woods.  As I have not shot basketball with any kind of regularity for 20 years or more, I am trying to get my shot back (muscle memory has long-forgotten), and I enjoy it as an active break.  My "game" is to shoot from wherever I recover the ball from a missed shot.  If I make the shot, I then go and make a free throw and a lay-up.  The lay-up must be made from the side from which the ball is retrieved after the free throw.  Missing any of the two latter shots nullifies the made field goal.  I play to five, with each circuit of a made field goal, free throw, and lay-up counting as one.  Nowadays, it takes a long time to get to five, so I only play to three.  

The right posterior knee was feeling pretty good as I hustled about to retrieve the basketball at a more favorable distance from the goal (it is hard enough to hit ten-foot shots, much less letting the ball bounce 20 feet away from the basket).  I was thinking, "Wow, things feel pretty good, I can start running this weekend."  I go to bed last night, suitably tired after a very active day,  A few hours into my sleep, I need to roll over and sleep on the other side.  The right posterior knee protested greatly!  It was as if I had re-injured it.  I knew I had not sustained a re-injury, but I had certainly aggravated the injured area.  I took my cinnamon-ginger-turmeric tea the first thing this morning.

It was a reminder that I am not yet 100%.  Walking is OK, but the added load experienced by mildly hustling to grab a basketball (no jumping required, just faster movement than walking) for a few minutes was a little too much.  My knee will get better, and is getting better, and this unintentional "test" was a good indicator of my progress to date.  I am not ready yet for running, but I can keep moving.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday update

Well, it is Friday, and we have survived the "gully-washer" rains of this week (~seven inches, 18 cm).  The nice thing about the rains is that it keeps me off the steeper slopes, away from bad footing, and away from lifting awkwardly-shaped objects -- all being the challenges of living on a new property which one has carved out of the woods.

The last couple of weeks has been about convalescing an injured knee (which has been giving me problems for four months) and ridding my body of nagging and sometimes debilitating aches.  I used PRICE for the knee last week, and I was able to restore mobility with only discomfort remaining (as opposed to pain that makes one gasp).  This week I used a tea twice a day of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric (with a dash of black pepper to help the body absorb the turmeric much quicker) to address the body aches (again, suffering from those for many more months than the knee).  The body aches are gone, completely gone.  For the first time in months I can move about, get up and down, do whatever I want without feeling like I am shredding a muscle or ten.  The tea was AMAZING, and I made it from the spices in our spice rack; no special purchases required.

Two days ago, my left eye felt irritated (I wear contacts).  I removed my contacts, but it only seemed to get worse.  Yesterday, it was so light sensitivity that daylight on a rainy day (which it was) felt like someone was shining a halogen sealed-beam light into it -- it really hurt!  I went to a couple of medical sites to find the best therapy based on my symptoms, and the consensus called for warm compresses.  The warm compresses helped in providing comfort, but little progress (comfort is a good thing, though) in healing.  I was so pre-occupied with finding some degree of comfort that I had neither coffee (I hand-grind the beans fresh every morning using a 1930s PeDe #3 grinder, and make the coffee in a French Press) nor my spice tea.  The eye was a little better by evening, and I decided to make my tea just to complete the body therapy regime I began on Monday.  Within an hour, my inflamed eye and eyelid felt much better; so much so that even the tearing had stopped.  I went to bed with my left eye feeling 95% normal.  It is not ready for contacts, mind you, but it was an unexpected outcome.  I will continue the spice tea therapy today knowing it also benefits my eye.

I will be stepping away from the spice tea therapy come Monday ("'ll be alright..." -- Jimmy Buffett) just to see if it something I need to take every day, or just when the need arises.  There are no side-affects for every day use, just the cost of consuming spices (which is not cheap, but at least they are dual-purpose: flavoring and medicinal, unlike drugs I might buy otherwise).  Today, I will be lifting and moving 500-600 pounds (230-270 kg) of landscaping flagstone.  I will be using a brace on the still-injured knee (the 'P' in PRICE).  If I am at roughly at the same point in the healing process as I am right now as I type this, I will also begin light workouts on Monday.

I wish you and your loved ones a great weekend.  Take care.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Doing more...

Yes, I am north of 55 in age, but I also know what feeling 'normal' is for me.  As I mentioned earlier, I have been going through a series of 'body issues" for quite some time, years, if measured properly.  Little by little I have conquered or managed some, but others linger on.  Getting out of a chair and feeling every fiber in my legs scream out (alright, almost every fiber) is not normal for me -- ever.  Sure, I expect that injured tendon in the back of the knee to squawk every now and again -- that would be normal.  But the rest?  No, no way.

I am 'doing more' about it.  I stay hydrated, which is good, but clearly not enough.  Fortunately, my older daughter is into the oils and herbs thing (with which I agree; God created us, and created a natural pharmacy for us to use).  I did my own research on various spices and herbs which promote healing (after all, isn't that what the spice trade was all about: medicine?  Who would go half-way around the world to make their rice turn yellow or their toast taste more fun in the morning?  The spice trade was not about making food taste more interesting, it was about acquiring medicinal agents).  Interesting enough, on my day-trek in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, my Berber guide (who lived in a town nearby and dressed the same as you and I) pointed out various flora as we walked, many of which were used to make teas to heal various ailments, and they had aloe growing in the wild as well.  Too bad they didn't have a government which would swoop-in and outlaw the use of such wild and uncontrolled plants, and regulate who could and could not grow the herbs and manner in which they could be grown, all for the protection of the people, of course (#sarcasm).

Anyway, I digress.  I researched looking at holistic websites, which tend to be over the top, and WebMD, which seemed to be boringly factual in outlining the claims and whether or not there was research to support the claims.  I researched with respect to the needs of athletes, or at least athletic people in their training.  I found three spices which I had in my counter which would helpful, and supported by both the enthusiasts' sites and WebMD: cinnamon, ginger, turmeric.  Turmeric is a quite strong anti-inflammatory, as effective as ibuprofen, according to WebMD.  I made a tea of 1/4 teaspoon each of of the spices, which I stirred constantly while drinking.   It was quite flavorful.  I had a cup of the tea in the morning, and one before bedtime.  The body feels better today, but I confess, it might be a placebo effect.  I will continue the regime for the rest of the week to see if it is the 'real deal'.  I am anxious to get these nagging pains out of the way so that I do not feel so crippled; my energy and my motivations being zapped by dealing with the pains.  None of the above spices have any side effects of note for me (unlike commercials advertizing medications which speed-talk through a myriad of sometimes horrifying side effects of their products), so I really have nothing to lose but the pains.  

I'll keep you posted (was a pun intended?).

Friday, March 4, 2016

The challenge of feeling better, but knowing you are not healed

I have five acres, heavily wooded.  We built our dream house on it, more forward in the property plat.  We have identified over a dozen varieties of trees, half of which are different oaks.  Our woods are thick, yet I want us to use all the property without compromising habitats for the deer, rabbits, raccoons, and other creatures of the forest which pass through our land.

I know, funny intro to a running post.  I introduce this post with the above because it is plain that injuries affect more than running.  I love the idea of creating trails in our woods, creating sitting areas with minimal impact, in short, creating a minimalist park in our woods to be enjoyed by all who visit and the creatures who have used it.  I cannot do any of that now because the injury still nags at me.

I have regained full mobility in lifting the heel, with only the smallest amount of discomfort (still not normal).  Lifting my knee, on the other hand, cannot be done without pain, but at least it is not a sharp pain.  Walking about the house or the flatwork outside can be done without noticing any pain or discomfort.  Going beyond that, hitting the slopes on the property or walking uneven terrain, and yes, the knee region starts talking.

Yesterday I engaged in two activities: sowing native grasses on the slopes around the house and attending the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLS&R).  Sowing the buffalo, little bluestem, and blue grama grasses involved walking up and down steep slopes, and often encountering soft soils (I sunk in the mud a little ways at times).  The HLS&R involved walking stadium ramps and climbing stadium stairs.  The knee told me all about it, lecturing most of the drive home, and nagged me as I got out of the car.  It has been a bit agitated this morning.

Most of the time, I do not notice that I am still injured, and my mind starts planning to get back to training, to get back to tending the woods.  I am not healed yet, and that is frustrating.  Sure, I could go ahead and push these things now, but then I will be constantly stopping to recover, and eventually and likely, cause greater injury.  The challenge of feeling better, but still being limited, forces patience, demands your intellect continually persuade the rest of one's mind and body what it does not wish to hear: You are healing, don't ruin it, don't make it worse, take only what the body will give you without injury-related pain -- healing takes T-I-M-E.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

PRICE works, or at least helps significantly

Yesterday was the devoted La-Z-Boy day I promised my body and leg.  It was hard because of the myriad of "things to do" racing through my mind, counter-balanced with sheer boredom.  Thank goodness for Netflix and Arrow.  I did execute at least eight full cycles of elevate, ice, heat, and compression yesterday, and movement was much more comfortable.  I reduced my activity (steps about the house) to a minimum.  I am experiencing much less pain, even heading into last night, but intellectually I know I am not "almost healed".  I am doing ice and compression cycles today, and noting range of motion after each cycle.  Yesterday, my range of motion was lifting the right heel until the foot just came off the floor, and that with some pain.  Today is looking much better.  I will "measure" again this afternoon to see how it is doing.

I know coming back will be hard for many reasons.  In the new house; however, I am able to return the Nordic-Track Excel to full operational capabilities, and it will serve as a starting point since little impact is involved.  I also have my dumbbell set and bench restored and in place for resistance training when the flexor tendons in my left hand heal.  Yes, it has been a rough move, with multiple opportunities for overdoing exertion, loading, and all other categories of efforts.  And yes, I am a bit too stubborn in asking for help.

I am hoping for progress today, however measured.  That would be a sign of healing, and healing is always a good thing.

Monday, February 29, 2016

MIA, I know; down, but not out

No posts since November.  I was healing from an aggressive barefoot run (went further -- on concrete --  than my barefeet could stand), and while waiting to heal, the construction of our new home kicked into high gear.  I was out on site early nearly every day.  I did a lot of schlepping through mud, and I soon discovered that mud and slopes are a bad combination.  I damaged a tendon in the back of the right knee; most likely the gastrocnemius.

The exact identify of what is injured in unknown, but all the sites I have researched concerning posterior knee pain come to this or the popliteal fossa.  Regardless, the therapy is the same: PRICE.  PRICE being Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (many of yo already know the acronym).  I admit, I have not been able to apply PRICE with any consistency since the injury occurred, as the high activity of concluding construction, hosting a family reunion Christmas, moving in, getting set up in the new house, working with the landscaper, doing other landscaping myself, hanging garage pegboard, throwing out lots of moving-related trash (it is 200 feet from our garage to the street), etc. have gotten in the way of "taking time off".

Further, I have had pains throughout my body, as if every fiber was inflamed.  I do not know the cause, but it went on for a few weeks then gradually faded.  Some lingering pain remains, but the intensity of the pain is much less than before.  All of the above are why I have been MIA -- who wants read a blog of someone's aches and pains?

I laid over a ton (2000+ pounds, ~1000 kg) of flagstone yesterday.  Why?  We needed to access a soft portion of our landscaping, and rain is coming tonight.  This area takes days to dry, and due to some work required in the days after the anticipated rains, we would need the flagstone path.  I think the effort yesterday has forced the time-off issue.  Once the tendon got warmed-up, I could go as long as I did not stop.  After I stopped yesterday, the area behind the knee was throbbing -- it is the worst it has been.  It is now the season of taking the time to apply PRICE.  The casual observer will think me as being lazy, sitting in a La-Z-Boy recliner all day, because they will not see the ice packs and heating pad of convalescing a knee injury.  Ironic, sidelined by a knee injury that had nothing to do with running.

I have missed running throughout the whole time period since the injury,  I go barefoot around here, especially on the driveway, to condition my feet for the task when I can run again.  Sometimes, I spend the entire day barefoot, getting in 10-12,000 steps a day.  My feet and ankle strengths are high, but I need the knee to get well.  Yesterday's activities have forced me to the deeper sideline of PRICE.

I am not in this for just a season, but for life, and this is a part of life.