Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My Achilles Heel

We all know who Achilles was right? An ancient Greek warrior, he is known for being the most handsome of the heroes assembled at Troy, as well as the fleetest. When Achilles was born, according to the most common version of the myth, Thetis (his mother, a sea nymph) tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx. But she forgot to wet the heel she held him by, leaving him vulnerable at that spot, the Achilles tendon. It's kind of a bad break, but that's also where he was fatally wounded. Kind of like Lou Gehrig getting Lou Gehrig's disease.

After I did my triathlon last August, it took me a few days to work some kinks out of my legs. One major stiffness was in my right Achilles tendon. I battled soreness in it for a little while, then added an elastic ankle brace to my running wardrobe and things improved dramatically. No more stiffness, no more soreness. Good deal.

I kept wearing the brace during my runs and at some point during the winter the soreness started coming back. Recently it has been getting worse again. Although it never hurt during the run, the morning after (even if I stretched my Achilles thoroughly) it would be very stiff and quite painful. The only things that would help were more stretching in the mornings and some Vitamin I before OR after the run, but even those didn't really help much. My concern was really starting to grow, as this could really turn into an injury like Achilles tendinosis or worse, an Achilles tendon rupture. I was type-cast in the role of Achilles while getting my BFA, so the irony wasn't missed.

Last week I did a four mile tempo run, with the brace, and felt really good. A good strong run, right on tempo, no worries. But an hour or so after the run, the Achilles was really starting to throb and get that pins & needles feeling. It felt like by brace was too tight and it had cut off the circulation to the area. The next morning things were really tight and uncomfortable. So I decided to try running without the brace.

I did a three mile tempo run on Saturday and was fine. Not even a little soreness afterward, some good stretching, no need for vitamin I, and the next morning my foot felt better than it had in a long time. So on Monday I did a slow six miles without the brace. Again, my Achilles was fine before, during and after. I did take some Ibuprofen, as a preventative measure, but never had any stiffness or pain. There was a little soreness, but I'll attribute that to having to run some hills and the longer miles. Once again, the next morning there was no soreness or pain. YES!!!

Weird that what originally helped me overcome an injury in the end almost caused me a worse one. I'm not really sure why I kept running with the brace, maybe out of paranoia, maybe out of comfort, but I wasn't really sure when to stop using it either. I guess that's been decided now.

1 comment:

Marzipan said...

I feel your pain. About 3 or 4 years ago I injured my Achilles Tendon right at the base of my right heel. I too had to wear a brace for quite some time. My doctor told me not to get used to wearing it though. I still wore it at work and during sports for about a year after. Then I tried without. It hurt for a while but the pain slowly went away. I haven't had any pain in about 2 years now but I'm always worried to injure it again. I've been told that these types of injuries can take quite a while to heel...