Labral Tear Recovery Update

I’m now 8 months out from my labral tear diagnosis and about 6 months into rehab (thanks, ovarian cyst).  And it’s going… okay.  Not great, not bad, but definitely okay.

Leading into my August vacation, I was feeling pretty great.  For the most part, I wasn’t dealing with daily pain.  I was doing my PT exercises 6 days a week (though my PT said I didn’t have to do them that often – the routine was good for me) and I made it through my first race of the year with no issues.

Vacation went great!  Lots of walking and zero issues.  It definitely felt like a victory.

But once I was back from vacation and really increasing mileage, I started to notice some familiar twinges coming back.  My quad started tightening up more and more.  I just assumed it was the mileage.  But then I realized it’s also my own doing.

I’ve dropped my PT visits back from weekly to every 2-3 weeks.  My PT does a ton of table work, so I was getting regular work on the knots in my leg.  Sure, there may not have been too many, but they were getting worked out before they had a chance to take hold.

I wasn’t doing my PT exercises quite as much as I had been. Maybe down to four days a week instead of six.  And I certainly wasn’t spending much time on the foam roller, which is probably the biggest mistake I made.  Increasing my mileage and not foam rolling is just stupid.

So I’m paying the price for it now.  My leg has all sorts of fun knots, which means I’m spending more time on my foam roller and also going back to weekly PT.  At my last session, I was lucky enough to get Graston and dry needling.  Worth it.  I’m lucky that my insurance covers more than enough visits for me to go weekly through the end of the year and I will only have to pay my copay.

Lesson learned.  Just because I’m feeling good doesn’t mean I can step back.  This is an injury that won’t heal.  I will have to constantly be doing strength work and proper stretching, especially when I’m doing things like increasing mileage.

I still don’t regret not going the surgical route, though I totally support anyone who makes that choice.  Each hip labral tear is different, and recovery will look different for everyone.  As the research improves, I may consider stem cell injections at some point (especially if insurance ever covers them, because right now, I’m not sure if it’s the idea of a giant needle in my groin or the ridiculous cost of the injections that’s keeping me from even considering it at this point).


So What’s Next – Labral Tear Recovery and More Racing?

Kanenori / Pixabay

A week out from my race and I feel pretty darn great.  I’m actually really impressed with how well I recovered.  I wasn’t overly sore after the race at all – something I was definitely worried about.  A little soreness is expected and good, but I was worried that I would feel the weakness in my left side after the race, and I didn’t!

Some of this is, of course, due to smart recovery.  I foam rolled.  I stretched.  I hit the sore spots with a massage ball.  All the things I hate doing, I did them all.

But it’s also a sign of how well my labral tear rehab is going.  My PT was so pleased that I have officially been released to PT every other week, soon going to “as needed.”  That’s huge!

Now, it doesn’t mean I’m fixed.  As I’ve said before, without surgery, this will never be fixed.  But at this point, my PT exercises are pretty much routine.  I don’t have to do them daily, but I try to, simply because it’s a given that I will miss a day here and there, so aiming for every day is just easier.  Now that I’m in the habit, it doesn’t make sense to change.  It’s not like I’m going to overdo it by doing 7 days instead of 4-5.

One unexpected benefit to the exercises – apparently my butt looks better in my tri shorts.  Not what I was going for, but I’ll take it.

I’m also going to race again this summer!  I was holding off on registering for anything because I wanted to see how Williamsburg went, not only with the race itself but also with the recovery.  With two big gold stars there, it’s time to look forward.

So next up, I’m going to register for Giant Acorn Oly at the end of September.  This was my first olympic distance race, and I love the location.  It’s a much more challenging course, so I won’t be anywhere near as fast, but I should still be okay when it comes to the time cutoffs.

(I’m also tempted by Patriots Oly at the beginning of September, but haven’t decided on that one.  I’m going on a two week vacation mid-August, and don’t know that leaping right from that to racing is the best plan.)

I do still need to work on increasing my run distance.  After all, just because I did a 10k doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near ready for Army Ten Miler or Space Coast Half.   But I’ll get there!



Racing On My Mind

Okay, not this kind of racing, but don’t these dogs look super happy? violetta / Pixabay

I’m not even into taper week and already I’m starting to think a whole lot about my upcoming race.  You would think this was my first triathlon ever, not my first triathlon of the season.

No, that’s not quite the right way to explain my feelings.  I’m not nervous, at least no more than I am for any race (and let’s be honest, I’m mostly just worried about forgetting something important like my bike or sleeping through my alarm – everything after that is what I’ve trained for).  I think I’m mostly super excited.  Super SUPER excited.

Of course, there’s a lot to be excited for when it comes to this trip.  Rev3 puts on incredible races and the Williamsburg race is definitely one of my favorites.  It’s a fast course and has been my PR course for a few years running.  So it’s a great course to return to.

I also have so many friends racing, both local and from far, far away (guys, Florida is really far away when your running partner abandons you to move there), and I’m so excited to see everyone and get to hang out.  I’m excited to get to cheer at the sprint on Saturday.  I’m excited to eat at the delicious Cheese Shop.  There’s a lot to look forward to.

I’m also just really ready to be back to racing.  I’ve missed the adrenaline of race day.  I’m pretty sure every race morning, I utter the phrase “this sport is stupid,” and let’s be honest, it kind of is, but stupid things can be so much fun.  While I’m far from fully recovered, I’m able to run again and I’m excited to get out there and see what my body can do.

It’s definitely going to be a challenge, since I’m taking the labral tear rehab incredibly carefully.  So far, I’ve been able to run without pain while slowly increasing my distance and reducing my walk intervals, but I don’t want to overdo it.  Right now, my goal is to keep following my training plan, see how this week’s runs go and then decide what walk/run interval I want to set for race day.  And if on race day, my body says “Hey, this running thing hurts,” (and it’s in the bad hurt kind of way and not the “it is hot and running is hard” kind of way) then I will be walking.  And that’s okay.  It’s all about getting back out there.

But I really hope to be able to run at least some of the 10k.  And I fully expect I will be able to.

I’m making a point to not do too much race day visualization just yet.  I have to get through this last week of focused workouts and not think too far ahead.  Next week will be time for race obsessing.

And then figuring out what other races I want to do this season because I miss racing!


Labral Tear Recovery – 4 Month Update

Just over four months ago, I was diagnosed with a labral tear.  Of course, I’ve been dealing with it since November, so it certainly feels like forever.  But it’s been a while since I discussed my recovery, and since I spent a ton of time searching the internet for information about labral tear recovery, I thought it was time to do an update.

So to quickly recap, I started having pain when I ran back in November.  I saw a doctor in January and was diagnosed with a labral tear at the end of the month.  I started PT in early February.  Of course, because the MRI of my hip also discovered the cyst on my ovary, that became priority one, and I lost much of March in terms of hip rehab, since I was recovering from abdominal surgery.

Thus, even though I’m four months into labral tear recovery, in many ways, I’m also really only at month two of solid rehab work.

Physical therapy isn’t a quick fix, especially not for something like this.  After all, I’m working to build the muscles in my leg, hip, and torso to better support the joint and do the work that the torn cartilage is supposed to be doing.  You don’t see results in the gym after just two weeks, so it makes sense that PT would be similar.

But I can confidently say that I am seeing results.  I’m not to the point of being 100% pain free, but I don’t have pain when I run (though I’m absolutely easing back in incredibly slowly), and that’s awesome.  Previously, I was having pain immediately when I started to run.  Walking would be fine, but swinging my foot forward for that first run step was painful.  Now I have some stiffness, but nothing like before.  Some days are better than others – some days my left leg just aches, and after cheering at Chattanooga, I was significantly more sore than I anticipated.

Physical Therapy is easily a 4-6 month process, and even though I’m four months in, I’m counting April 1 as my beginning, since I lost some of the progress I made in January when I had to take off much of March.  But even looking at it 4 months in, I’m really happy with where I’m at.   This reaffirms my decision to go with physical therapy rather than straight to surgery or experimental procedures.

Of course, I’m lucky that my insurance covers a good amount of physical therapy (after my copay, of course), but I’m sure they’d rather fund this than a second surgery for the year.

So for now, I’m just continuing with PT and making sure to do my daily exercises.  I’m sure I’m going to come out of this stronger and better balanced than before, and I’m hoping all this work will help prevent any additional injuries in the future.

Almost back to normal? Maybe?

cat swimmingI don’t want to jinx anything, but I think my energy levels are just about back to normal.  My doctor told me it would be about 2-3 months, and I’m almost 8 weeks out from surgery (I can’t believe it’s only been 8 weeks – feels like forever), so it would make sense that I’m nearing normal.

I’m still training while listening to my body, but I’m definitely pushing myself harder and not letting myself out of workouts just because “I don’t wanna.”  For whatever reason, my most dreaded workout is the swim.  I don’t know why – once I’m in the pool, I enjoy the swim and feel great afterwards.  I suspect it’s the logistics.  I have to pack a bag, drive to the pool, hope I get a lane, etc.  Running (well, walking) and biking are much easier.  And if I’m swimming during the week, it’s an even bigger production.  Pack a bag, making sure I have work clothes.  Leap out of bed (no snooze button), race to the pool, wait for the swim team to get out of the pool at 6am and hop in.  Swim for an hour, then rush to get ready and race (aka sit in traffic) to work, where I’m hopefully only an hour later than normal.

I still haven’t been running, but my PT exercises have been stepped up significantly, which has been a huge boost.  I am still demonstrably weaker on my left side, which I take great delight in, as it means there’s still room for improvement.  I’ve been doing a lot of exercises with elastic bands, and those things are no joke.  I have a set of 5 bands, and I’m doing most of my exercises with bands 2 and 4.  Band 5 is still in its package because it scares me.

I’ve said all along that I’m going to commit to a training plan again in May to get myself ready for my triathlon in July.  I’m still not sure if I’m going to be running or walking the 10k (hopefully a combination of the two, even if I can only run for a mile).  But I’m excited to get back to racing again.  I miss it!