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Physical Therapy

Remember how, just over three weeks ago, I began this blog?  Well, that also happened to be the same day as the Polar Dash, a race that has left me reeling, because I finally hit that point where I couldn’t tolerate the pain of my overuse injury anymore.

I went to the doctor, barely able to walk, and this is what I was told – you have an inflamed IT band,[i] caused by weak muscles in your hips, butt, and core.  Sweet.  “What am I supposed to do about it?” I responded, eager to run again.

“Physical therapy,” was the answer I received.

Doesn't this helpful guy make it better?

Yeah, that's pretty accurate.  Pain, indeed.

I know what you’ve all heard, and believe me, it’s true.  Physical therapy sucks.  They know just how to move you so that it hurts, and then they figure out a way to make it hurt regularly with the hopes that eventually you’ll feel better.[ii]

The first time I went, I was told to pace back and forth while my physical therapist watched me walk, then do some body weight squats, then hop on one leg.  Then try to balance.  It was terribly difficult, although not as painful as I would have guessed it would be.  At the end, he gave me some exercises to do to strengthen said weak hips, butt, and core, and sent me on my merry way with the advice to wait to run until he can watch me at my next appointment.

Well, my next appointment was on Tuesday.  I’ve been dutifully doing the exercises,[iii] and yet, once I got on the treadmill, I could feel my knee start to get irritated again.  But then he dropped a doozy on me.  He said “there is recent research that says taking shorter, choppier steps helps with a person’s mechanics while protecting their joints.  So I want you to start running again, 3 times per week, and work on taking 180 steps per minute.”

That’s right, folks.  Per minute.

He had me hop back up on the treadmill to try that out.  And I felt ridiculous.  He told me that I should download a metronome app on my phone so that I can follow a beat.  Within a minute, my knee hurt to the point where I thought I would start limping again.  So, there’s still work to be done, apparently.

So, by the time I return to physical therapy a week from today, I am supposed to have tried out that running cadence theory, along with adding calf raises to my repertoire of exercises.  Sigh.  No one said physical therapy was fun.  All I’m saying is, it better work.


[i] This is apparently called Iliotibial Band Syndrome, and is common among runners.  You can find more information here.

[ii] This is a terrible description of physical therapy, I know.  But that’s what it feels like.

[iii] With the exception of last weekend.  It was a long weekend, and I would have rather done just about anything other than planks and leg raises.  I know, I know.  If I want to run again. I should be better about it.

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