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.