Friday, March 20, 2009

Poo-Poo those Peroneals

What scares me the most about any type of ache or pain or even injury is NOT KNOWING. Not knowing the cause. Not knowing how to fix it. Not knowing what the future holds. A couple weeks ago, I didn't know. CRAZY thoughts entered my mind like "I'm going to have to have surgery again" and "I'm just not meant to run" and "I'm not going to be able to lose weight without running." But thanks to some knowledge I've gained from working with MAT extraordinaire Jim Guillory ( as well as my podiatrist, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what is my core issue with my ankle.

This all started, or so it seems, after the Rodeo Run 10K. Ever since running that race, my LEFT ankle has been hurting something fierce. And it only got worse with running. I played around with rest and ice, the normal stuff, for about a week but not wanting to waste any more time, I made an appointment with the podiatrist. I also set up another appointment with Jim Guillory at the Houstonian who Catherine recommended. He does this thing called MAT that Catherine promised would get me going again, provided there was no "real" injury.

The course of action prescribed by my podiatrist was to look into orthotics or to see what an MRI might show. I suggested we shoot it up with cortisone and see if just knocking the inflammation out would get it done. If the pain comes back after a few weeks, we would know it was something more than just chronic inflammation. He actually thought that was a good idea so we did it.

The LEFT ankle felt pretty good after that and I ran a couple times over the next two days. By then, I could start to feel it again, not near as badly but still so, something didn't seem quite right. So, I went to see Jim on that Saturday. Through Jim's "investigation" which included a lot of muscle testing, we found that the root of the problem was the peroneal muscles on the RIGHT side which were VERY weak. I had surgery on that ankle about 3 and a half years ago and somewhere along the way, I just "stopped" using those muscles. I would go so far as to say that they are atrophied (non-functional or greatly diminished).

To make a long story short, the weakness on my RIGHT side has caused my LEFT side to compensate. During the 10K, which I ran very hard, my LEFT quads had taken up for most of the work, trying to compensate for the weakness on my right side. At some point during the race, my LEFT quads gave out and the last muscles to "take over" were the LEFT peroneals. It's so interesting to me that the muscles/tendons that actually hurt and that I considered injured were not at all the cause of the problem. I think conventional treatment that you would get at say a doctor's office or even a sports med clinic would concentrate on the hurt ankle and never address the rood cause. This is where Jim's knowledge as a kinesilogist trained in MAT really made sense of the issue holistically. Jim was able by whatever it is he does to get all my muscles working again and when I was done with my hour with him, I felt great. However, the weakness in the RIGHT peroneals persists and unless I get those strong, I'm going to continue to have problems.

Jim gave me some exercises to do to strengthen those muscles on the RIGHT side. These muscles are very hard to isolate and work on. It's even harder when the peroneals have little or no strength. In the mean time, Jim suggest that I don't run at all, for risk of messing myself up again. DON'T RUN??? Are you kidding? I asked how long it would take to get those muscles strong enough to run. He told me honestly that he doesn't know. It could take a long time. Plus, according to Jim, running does not strengthen those peroneals. When I run, all the other muscles are just going to compensate for that weakness and the peroneals are simply not going to get stronger that way. The ONLY way to get them stronger is through the 3 or 4 specific exercises that he showed me and time.

This really leaves me in a pickle. I really, really, really want/need to run. But because of the issue with my peroneals, I run a HUGE risk of injuring something else. However, I'm optimistic. Through this process, I've learned that knowledge is POWER!!! And knowing what the problem is, what all the risks are, what the prescribed treatment should be, and a little bit more about how my body works, I can make an informed decision on how to proceed. Jim says no running. The podiatrist prescribes a prosthesis (orthotics). Now that I have all the information, I can take responsibility for my own health and decide for myself what to do. I like!!!

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