So, it is 7:42 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I should be outside running right now. Why, then, am I sitting here in my pajamas, sipping coffee, writing this blog post? I’m glad you asked!
It has been brought to my attention (by my body) that I am injured and need a rest from running.
I am quite disheartened by this news, but am trying hard to stay positive and be creative about other ways I can stay fit and keep burning calories.
Time for one leg squats?
A few weeks ago I remember teasing with the girls in my office that I must really have one dominant leg when I run because it seemed like I had built up the muscle in one leg significantly larger than the other.
I was frequently noticing while wearing capri-length pants that they would be very tight around my left calf, to the point of discomfort. But they fit just fine around my right calf.
One gal suggested it wouldn’t be that unusual to have one foot that I always lead with and that I could actually build up more muscle in that leg than the other. She thought maybe I should consider doing some exercises specifically with the other leg to try to even them out. It sounded somewhat logical, and I didn’t do any further research on the subject.
Over the last few weeks I’ve frequently found this situation to be very noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable, but then other times I didn’t notice it at all and it would just slip from my mind. I would occasionally notice tightness in my calves, that one side in particular, and a little tingling and a lot of muscle twitching. I assumed this was just the results of working the muscles hard when I run.
Not your ordinary soreness
This past week on Monday, my left calf was really bothering me while I was at work. It seemed like as I sat at my desk, with my legs dangling down to the floor, my calf was swollen. I kept trying to prop it up on something under my desk, looking for some relief from the discomfort caused by swelling. On my lunch break I even sat out in my car, with my foot propped up on the dashboard for elevation, just trying to get some relief.
By Tuesday I started to realize some thing was really wrong here. This was not just muscle soreness from vigorous exercise. My left calf was swollen to nearly twice the size of the right leg! And it just felt so tight, and uncomfortable and constant twitching of the muscles. I decided it may be time to see my doctor. To be honest, my mind was zeroing in on ‘worst case scenario’ and I feared it may be a blood clot. I just wanted to hear my doctor say that it wasn’t that.
As it turned out, my doctor, upon seeing my swelling and hearing my symptoms, immediately became concerned about the same thing. She told me it was most likely that I had a sports injury, but that the symptoms and risk factors also pointed strongly towards deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and she wanted to rule that out before pursuing any other options.
She ordered me over to the hospital for an ultrasound “stat”! It always worries me when the doctor actually seems anxious and in a hurry for a test. Her staff called the hospital and explained they needed this test done right now, and they sat on hold while the hospital admin made calls to rearrange their appointments to fit me in. Then I went straight over there for the ultrasound.
The ultrasound was an interesting process and I have to tell you, it looks a little bit like the moon – inside my leg. 🙂 At the end of it, the technician told me that she cannot give me any results of the test, that the doctor would have to review it and go over the results with me. However, she could tell me that if she had found a blood clot she would not be allowed to let me leave the hospital. Then she smiled and said “And you are going home now”. Enough said, I finally exhaled with relief.
Time for a change of pace
A few hours later my doctor called with the official test results saying that the ultrasound was normal and there was no blood clot. That leaves us with the most likely culprit being some sort of tear, strain or other type of sports injury. She referred me to an orthopedic sports-medicine specialist. That was Wednesday afternoon, and with Thursday being the July 4th holiday, I had to wait until Friday to even call them for an appointment. Now I’ll be going in there on Monday to see what they have to say about the situation.
At least now that I know I am not dealing with anything life-threatening, I could start treating this like a soft tissue injury even though I don’t know exactly which muscle it is or the extent of the injury. I started immediately on Wednesday afternoon with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation), coupled with a few doses of Tylenol to help bring down the swelling.
Being the fitness addict that I now am, my mind is already reeling with thoughts like:
How bad is this injury?
How long will it take to heal?
When will I be able to run again?
How much more damage did I do by continuing to run long after being injured without realizing at the time that I was injured?
What sort of rehab will I need to do to heal and rebuild my strength?
How will I continue my quest for fitness and burn the calories I need so I can keep eating a decent amount without regaining the weight I’ve lost?
What kind of exercise can I do that won’t continue to make matters worse in my leg muscles?
My biggest fear is that I’ll get lazy and completely fall off the wagon of exercising and end up gaining back the weight and losing the strength and fitness level I’ve worked all these months to gain.
My biggest sadness is that I’ve begun to genuinely enjoy my running and I’m already missing it. My husband is getting ready right now to head out for “our” early Saturday run and I am sad that I will be sitting here while he is out in the fresh air pounding the pavement.
The next step
I guess I will know more after I see the ortho-specialist. But for now I’ve begun formulating a plan and it goes sort of like this:
I know for the time being I need to drastically limit the exertion I put on that leg. I finally have the swelling down a bit and don’t want to aggravate it again.
There is a fitness-minded motivation group I am part of on Facebook, and one of the gals had recently posted a 30 Day Arms Challenge. I decided I’m going to give this a try, now is a good time to focus on my upper body strength and I should be able to do this without much impact to my legs. This is the challenge, I am only on day 3 and I am already feeling challenged, lol!
In addition to this, I’ve been doing some research on Runners World and found what looks like a pretty good plan for a core strengthening routine which I’ve now begun to follow. Core Strength Training
For more of a cardio type burn, I think that swimming will be my go-to for a while. However, until I see the doctor and know exactly what type of injury I’m working with, I’m reluctant to even work those legs in the water. Thursday morning I went for a swim and put a floaty-noodle under my chest and another smaller one under my ankles and did my laps with just my arms.
I may have to put running on hold for a few weeks but I’m going to have some tremendous upper body strength when this is done! 🙂
The key I am trying to remember is that I made a decision to change my life, to become healthier, fitter, stronger and happier. I am NOT going to let a road block stop my progress, it will just send me down a different path for a while where there is still plenty of room for growth.