Labral Tear Update

So I’m still dealing with this labral tear, and it’s definitely slow going.  Though let’s be honest, when is the last time that healing anything wasn’t slow going?  (Not that the tear itself can be healed, but there are things I can do to reduce pain and prevent issues.)

Let’s look back at where I’ve been –

Mid-November – I go on a six mile taper run and have a bunch of weird pain in my left quad and end up walking most of it.  I shrug it off.

Late November – Space Coast!  I run with Kim and we have a blast until I tweak my right soleus (likely due to a tight piriformis combined with some wicked camber on the course) at mile 12.

Mid-December – I do a 3 mile run, no real issues til the end when my soleus starts to hurt.  Guess that’s not quite healed.

Late December – For the rest of the month, when I try to run, my quad almost immediately starts to hurt.  It is not awesome.  It is super inflamed and painful.  The pain is along the top of my quad and down the outer side. So I stop running.  Only biking and swimming

Early January – Cheer at WDW Marathon.  No running, but tons and tons of walking, and zero issues.

January 16 – Appointment with regenerative orthopedist.  He talks very fast, and while very nice, does not leave me feeling great about the appointment.  He orders an x-ray and an MRI, says it’s probably a labral tear or maybe a stress fracture, but that I can still run (not the best plan, if it’s a stress fracture).  Throws a whole lot of information at me about regenerative therapies and injections, and tells me to come back in a month.

January 17 – I decide to try to get in with another orthopedist, one who does more traditional therapies.  Get an appointment for the following week.

January 19 – X-Ray and MRI.  MRIs remain un-fun for someone who is claustrophobic, but I survive.

January 23 – Appointment with the new orthopedist.  I immediately like him better.  He looks at my scans and the reports, and there is very clearly a labral tear (and no stress fracture) in my left hip.  He gives me a ten day course of prednisone, tells me to wear supportive shoes, prescribes PT, and tells me to come back in three weeks, and that I can try running in two weeks.  So off I go with my happy new plan.

February 6 – I run one mile.  It hurts.

February 8 – I attempt to run another mile, realize that it hurts right away and that this is stupid.  My PT was surprised that the doctor wanted me to try running so soon, and she was right.  I wasn’t ready.

February 13 – I return to the orthopedist for my followup.  He seems surprised I’m not 100% better.  He asks if I want to talk to a surgeon.  I tell him that I’m not ready for that option.  He recommends I consider a cortisone injection, and I take the information.  He basically says that none of these are requirements and I’m not causing harm by continuing to just do PT and waiting to see how things go.

Surgery is definitely not in my plans.  The recovery time is a full 6 months, and it’s not a guaranteed fix.  Additionally, were I to consider surgery, it wouldn’t be until the fall.  We’re doing a Northern European cruise in August, and it’s been planned for years.  I refuse to be hobbling around and dealing with recovery while sight-seeing.

I’m reluctant to try the cortisone right now as well.  I’ve done quite a bit of research and it can have a catabolic effect.  Now, if I were in pain during my normal day-to-day activities, I would absolutely be considering it.  But it also isn’t a permanent fix, and if the biggest issue is that I can’t run, I’m not sure it’s worth it right now.

For now, my plan is to continue with PT.  While my exercises are getting easier, they are far from easy.  I have a lot of strengthening work to do.  I’m certainly hoping to be able to get back to running, but I’m definitely taking the conservative approach right now.  It’s incredibly frustrating, but I’d rather be cautious than jump into bigger treatments that don’t work.

If, after some time has passed, I’m still finding that things aren’t improving (I think they are, it’s just hard to tell), I may consider going back to the regenerative ortho.  Patience is going to be the name of the game here.  Slow and steady.

There is no magical cure

Prawny / Pixabay

So Tuesday was my glorious return to running.

It was not glorious.  At all.

I ran one whole mile.  Well, ran/walked.

It was very slow.

And it hurt.

I think I got a little cocky after my required rest.  Also the prednisone I was on.  It significantly reduced all the inflammation in my leg muscles and suddenly nothing hurt.  It was awesome.

Well, I tapered off of that a few days back, so now some of the inflammation is rearing its ugly head.  And obviously, two weeks of physical therapy isn’t enough to completely rebuild the muscles needed to support the tear in my hip.

The good thing that the pain wasn’t at the point of the tear itself.  It was in the muscles opposite it.  When I run, my leg also seems to naturally want to move at an angle instead of straight.  I can keep it straight, but have to consciously work to keep it there.  I talked to my PT about it, and she agreed that’s an easy fix.  And by easy, I mean a lot of quality PT work, both in the office and at home.  But nothing complicated or particularly hard to do.

This weekend is the first race that I’ve had to officially DNS due to this injury.  I’m definitely disappointed to not be running Donna this year, as it’s always a great race.  This may not be the only race I DNS this year, and that’s definitely a bummer, but I’m much more committed to racing healthy and pain free than I am to actually completing a race.  Right now, biking and swimming are painless (well, free from the bad pain anyway), so worst case, I can do some aquabike races this year.  However, it’s only February, so we’ll see what the next few weeks hold.  Not committing to anything just yet.

 

The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round

Guys.  GUYS.  I get to try out running THIS WEEK.  Like, tomorrow!  I’m 100% excited and 100% terrified and 100% convinced it’s gonna be awful.

running is impossible

But it’s also going to be 100% exciting because I can finally, finally try running again.

Because while I love biking, it’s getting to be a bit much.  Don’t get me wrong, my bike and I are still BFFs, but after three straight days on the trainer, I’m a little bit saddle sore.  I know, I know, it’s only three days and lots of people do way more, but I got into triathlon because I like doing multiple things.  I get bored easily!  Also my treadmill is getting dusty, and I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve gone without running on it since I bought it over 6 years ago.

That said, I’ve really gotten into riding on Zwift.  I love the added challenge of the hills and valleys, and I absolutely love the scenery.  Seriously, how gorgeous is this?

Don’t judge my overall speed – it was a hilly route.

I have to admit, I also love the gamification of the workouts.  I can challenge myself up hills and through sprints.  I can earn virtual jerseys and other gear to “wear” during the ride.  I can cheer on my friends as they ride (and spy on them if I want).  I can see how many pieces of pizza I burned during my workout (spoiler alert: it’s never as much as you think).

I have never minded indoor training, as it’s often an excuse to catch up on tv shows I’ve missed, but after using Zwift for a few months, I see just how much I was holding back on my trainer rides.  It’s easy to push myself on the treadmill – I push the buttons and I have to run faster or I fall.  But the bike is entirely self powered, so if I take it easy, there’s nothing there to force me to speed up.  Having my Zwift screen in front of me is that reminder, especially when I’m cruising up a hill at a whopping 2 miles per hour.  Seriously, if I were actually riding, I would have fallen over.  (Of course, I tend to avoid hills with a 10% grade.)

So thank you, Zwift, for getting me through these past few months, but I think maybe we’ll be seeing each other just a bit less, now that the treadmill and I are allowed to get reacquainted.

January Mileage Update

depuys / Pixabay

I really liked tracking my mileage last year, so this year, I set some concrete mileage goals and headed out to meet them.

You know what they say about the best laid plans.

But injuries happen, and goals are meant to be adjusted as circumstances change.  So rather than being disappointed about my current mileage numbers, I find them pretty amusing.  I’m not going to worry about changing the goals, I’ll just see where I end up.

January Mileage:
Swim: 6.2 miles
Bike: 170 miles
Run: 3 miles

I’m ahead of the game on the swim for sure, thanks to the 100×100 swim (of which I did 53) setup by one of my amazing Coeur teammates.  My goal for this year’s swim was to swim smart and not aggravate my hip, but if possible, I wanted to beat last year’s swim.  Last year, I did 5000y, so this year, I did 5300y.  This year, I also didn’t touch any pool toys while swimming.  No pull buoy, fins, or paddles.  That was mainly out of concern for my hip, but it certainly made the swim more of a challenge.  That said, it’s a huge confidence builder for the beginning of the season, whatever that season may look like.

Bike numbers are a bit low, but it’s been a lot of indoor challenges.  I’m using Zwift now, so it’s not really comparable to my indoor mileage from last year, but Zwift makes it way more fun, so I’ll take the slightly lower mileage.  I’m definitely itching to get outside, but not when it’s this cold.  There is no good way to bike while wearing a snowsuit, and I salute all you bike commuters.

So on to the next month.  Here’s hoping February has some goodness saved up for me!

 

 

Injury Update

Well, I’m one week out from my appointment with my orthopedist.  And I feel great!  I’m totally healed!

Okay, not really.  That would be miraculous.

But I am feeling pretty darn good.

Let me step back and explain how I got here.  For years, I’ve been having issue with tight hips and glutes, and they end up pulling at my lower back.  Finally, I decided enough was enough, so I started going to a physical therapist to work on getting those muscles loosened up.

Then all of a sudden, the issues shifted.  By mid-November, the pain was no longer in my glutes, but my left leg was just constantly tight.  No, I don’t think the PT caused the labral tear.  But I think the reason that my hips were all so locked up was to protect this old injury.  A labral tear means that my hip isn’t as tight in the socket as it should be, and my muscles know that’s not how this is supposed to work, so they were doing their best to keep everything in place.  So in loosening everything up, the labral tear reappeared.

Now that the inflammation has been reduced, I can feel where the tear is, and it’s not a new sensation.  I can’t tell you when I first felt it, but it’s certainly not a new thing, so I’d say this tear has been around for a while.  The goal now is to strengthen my muscles so that they are properly supporting my hip, rather than just locking up to hold everything in place.

A big part of the reason that I’m feeling as good as I am right now is because of all the rest that I put in.  When things started to hurt, I stepped back.  I knew it was something in my hip, likely a labral tear or a stress fracture.  So I stopped all activities that could cause issues for either (running and anything jumping related).  I was also working with my PT to continue to loosen up the tight muscles.  If anything hurt, we avoided it.  So by the time I saw the second doctor, I was already in less pain than I had been throughout.

I still have another week off until I can try running again, and I’ve got high hopes.  It’s not going to be pretty, I’m sure.  But I’ll get back to it.

The big lesson here for me is rest.  I didn’t push through an injury.  Would I have done more damage?  Probably not.  But I also wouldn’t be as pain free as I am now, and who knows where the rest of my season would be.

So what’s next?  Well, one more week of healing before I start running. Lots and lots of PT.  And then easing back in to a normal training routine.  I’ve talked with my coach and we’re going to take it very slow.  She’s confident in my fitness base that she thinks I should be okay for my March half marathon and May 70.3.  Will these be my fastest races?  Probably not, but that’s perfectly okay.

I did have to back out of the Donna Half Marathon in a few weeks, to no one’s surprise.  I’m certainly not going to be able to run 13.1 miles quite that soon.  I am sad to not be racing, as it’s one of my favorite races, and I’m sad to not be there cheering (but it just didn’t make sense to spend the money on the hotel and meals when I will be paying copays like crazy for the next few weeks).  But this is just one blip on the plan.  Here’s to things looking up!