I'm drowing in running injury-related acronyms. But I'm hopeful that this cocktail of therapies will finally get me over this still-ongoing injury.
After having a few weeks of slow but steady progress, I got to a great milestone - an 8-mile long run. And I was feeling pretty good. Not 100%, but definitely felt like I was on the right track, and that as long as I continued with PT, I could continue to slowly increase my mileage and maybe even pick up with some semblance of a Boston training plan in a few weeks.
Then, three days after my 8-miler, I set out to run 4 miles, and had to stop at 2 because the pain was so bad.
Needless to say, I was frustrated, discouraged, and depressed, and began mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I would not run Boston this year.
But I also decided that I wasn't going to give up, and that it was time to follow up with my doctor again, to try to figure out why the protocol we were using wasn't working.
A few emails and phone calls later, I had a followup appt. scheduled with my orthopedist for Tuesday, an appt. with an ART-certified PT for today, and an appt. with a new orthopedist for a second opinion on Friday. I've never been to so many doctor's appointments in one week!
My orthopedist evaulated me and we talked about why the original shin pain (medial tibial stress syndrome) was now being eclipsed by a newer pain on the outside of my left calf, and her thought was that the outer calf pain is being caused by IT band tightness, and that the focus of PT should shift from the shin to the IT band. And she agreed that anything was worth trying, including ART, or Graston, or acupuncture - or all of the above.
This afternoon was my first visit to the new PT. I have to admit here that I totally feel like I'm cheating on my regular physical therapist. I've been seeing her for so long, and she's gotten me through so many aches and pains and kept me on track for so many races, including Boston last year. She even called the house that day when she heard about the bombings, because she wanted to make sure I was ok. Clearly, I need to do what I need to do, and she's not certified in ART or Graston, so I know she'll understand, but it does feel kind of strange to not have her see me through this one.
Anyway, after the initial evaulation today, her assessment was that we get started right away on both the Graston and the ART. Luckily I had heard about Graston and seen the tools before, or I might have been a little intimidated when she took them out.
I had heard that Graston can be somewhat uncomfortable, but I honestly didn't find it to be at all. It was like a very deep massage, and didn't bother me one bit. What was cool about it - in kind of a weird, creepy way - was that you could truly feel (and hear - ick) the 'crunchiness' of the injured tissues. And as she worked over my entire left leg, she uncovered areas of tightness and damage that I never would have known were there.
The point of the Graston, as I understood it, is to break up the tissue adhesions that form when the tissue is damaged and tries to repair itself. It does some other things, too, but that's the primary reason for doing it.
The ART was actually slightly more uncomfortable than the Graston, but even that, I wouldn't call painful. It involves the patient actively flexing the affected muscles while the practitioner applies deep, direct pressure - and it works!
When initially evaulating me, my left hamstring and quads and calves - really, just my entire left leg - was unbelievably tight, especially as compared to my right leg. And the difference when she re-evaulated after the treatment was absolutely amazing. My leg has never felt so flexible!
And as I took a few quick steps to run out to the bus stop this afternoon, I felt almost no pain whatsoever in the area on the outside of my calf.
So if you're wondering if ART and Graston work - based on my initial visit, I'd say the answer is a resounding yes.
Next step is to get more info from the new orthopedist, and then schedule another session of Graston/ART, and probably one for acupuncture, too.
I still don't know if this is all going to get me back to the point where I can train for and run Boston, but if it doesn't, I'll know that I fought it tooth and nail, and that I didn't give up - because as a friend reminded me the other day - "that's not who I am."