16 June 2010

the injured foot

A heavy running schedule for April and May have taken their toll. My last run was five weeks ago -eleven miles on the Confederation Trail. Pain set in on the top of my foot so severely that I couldn't put my full weight on the left foot. I self-diagnosed Extensor Tendinitis as the likely cause and tried ice, ibuprofen gel and rest. Additionally I used the TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation) that I originally bought a decade ago for relief from fibromyalgia.

Tendons have a limited blood supply so are notoriously slow to heal. TENS stimulates muscle and tendon at the cellular level and is thought to release pain relieving agents as well as to encourage growth; icing tricks the body into survival mode and it delivers extra blood to the cold area; rest avoids worsening the damage of course.

After a week the pain began to ease but running was out of the question and I began to get fidgety from the lack of exercise. Michelle reminded me that the community sports centre in Stratford offers free gym facilities. We took the kids there one Friday morning for the pre-school playgroup (also free, including refreshments) and I slipped upstairs to investigate the exercise equipment.

There are two running/walking lanes around the perimeter and a rank of about a dozen instruments of torture, mostly weights. However my eye was caught by two ellipticals and two bikes. Having arrived suitably attired, I leapt aboard an elliptical and began "running" without the impact or the foot tension. The cardio-vascular workout was exciting and I felt relieved that here was a way to maintain my fitness for the time being. Since then I have used the elliptical and the bike daily, pushing my heart rate to one hundred and fifty beats per minute and burning over seven hundred calories in an hour.

It has become a ritual to pull on my sports gear, take my mp3 player and drive the fifteen minutes to Stratford. I have come to recognise the regular faces, the old and the young, the slow walkers and the fast runners, the weight crunchers and the lazy cyclists, the flabby and the toned! I set my mp3 player to random and work hard until salty sweat is stinging my eyes and dripping from my chin. I have the windows down on the drive home and look forward to a deep, hot bath.

I can walk without too much discomfort for most of the day now but I can't run yet. I have tried an occasional quick mile around the gym track and the pain returns, so for the next few weeks at least, I will have to release my endorphins on the elliptical!