Jo Shares Marathon Training Tips for Dealing with an Injury
Jo’s feeling the hurt both physically and mentally as she continues to prep for the Twin Cities Marathon. Read up on her latest adventures to the physical therapist.
Taking Pain Seriously
Woof! That is about all Jo can get out after a long tempo run at marathon pace. Things have been going pretty well up to this point, except for minor bathroom incidents and very humid days; she has had a fairly uninterrupted training stint. This week she was instructed to do a big workout at marathon pace. While the workout itself went well, she couldn’t help but notice some aches and pains, that have been persisting for quite some time now.
Has this ever happened to you?
We all are aware that marathon training is hard. It’s grueling, time consuming, and produces somewhat of a constant ache that radiates throughout your body. Aches are different than pains, and it is good to be aware of each of them. Aches can be treated with ice, Advil, and foam rolling. Pains can occasionally be sidelining, and occasionally the end of your marathon before it even begins.
Jo has been having some shin trouble for the past few weeks. She has been constantly icing and taking medicine to try and reduce the pain, but it hasn’t worked. Post-hard tempo, she knew that something needed to be done. After stretching well, showering off the white around her hairline (aka salt from the copious amounts of sweat), and eating a well-balanced meal… with a little vanilla almond butter to cure her sweat tooth, she scheduled an appointment with a physical therapist.
Lucky for us Minneapolitans, we have a plethora of PTs here around the area. One of her co-workers, Missy recommended she see Dr. X who has run many marathons and treated many runners. Dr. X knows what he is talking about. She schedules an appointment for the following day and decides not to run until she knows what is going on with her shins. She has heard of the notorious stress fractures and is keeping her fingers crossed that this is not her diagnosis.
Dr. X, Magic Hands?
Entering the PT clinic is a little daunting at first. She sees a fancy table that looks more hi-tech than the ones at her family doctor’s office. There are metal tools on a table that could be mistaken for torture devices, and a bunch of random machines that don’t look like a whole lot of fun. She sits down and waits.
Dr. X waltzes in a few moments later and introduces himself. He begins by asking her a bunch of questions about herself, her health, and what brought her in. After explaining she is training for the Twin Cities Marathon for the first time and has been having shin pain, she is asked to lie down and Dr. X begins to work his magic.
Initially, Jo feels like he isn’t doing anything. She paid good money to have this guy fix her and all he is doing is poking and prodding at various points in her back, hips, and legs. Five minutes pass and he looks up at her and states, “Your calve muscles are basically rocks.”
“What does that mean?” Jo inquires.
“Essentially, you calves are so tight that they are tugging on the fascia in the front of the shin bones. This causes pressure on the bones, which results in shin pain. I believe this is what you are experiencing, but I think I can fix it. I am warning you, this might hurt a bit.”
“Do whatever you need to do!” says Jo, relieved it is nothing major and that the death sentence “stress fracture” did not come out of his mouth.
“How painful can it be?” thinks Jo.
Using Graston to Treat a Running Injury
Painful cannot begin to describe the next thirty minutes with Dr. X. He had mentioned he was going to do a massage. Jo got excited at the thought of a massage, as it is one of her favorite ways to pamper herself. This massage was not the kind she had in mind. In fact, she doesn’t know anyone who would ever have that massage in mind.
It was brutal.
She could feel his fingers bulldoze over the knots in her calf muscles. After a few minutes working with his hands, Dr. X grabbed the shiny metal “torture” tools. Jo was right, they were for torture. Dr. X mentioned they were tools used for a technique called Graston. Not only did he Graston her calves, but he moved up to her quads and hamstrings.
Dr. X covered every single muscle fiber in her legs and left her feeling wobbly, bruised and defeated. Although the room was air conditioned, Jo found that she left the office with a sweat ring on her back. Her teeth hurt from clenching the entire time and she was concerned people might think she is getting beat up because of the bruises the Graston left behind.
Bitter about the appointment she decided to take the rest of the day off from running and see how she feels the following day. He told her to come back in a week or two to get some more work done. Yeah right!
The next morning she woke up, still bruised, but revived nonetheless. Her legs felt livelier than they have in a long time. Yes, the PT may have been one of the most horrifyingly painful experiences of her life, but it also worked! She’s not totally healed, but she was able to run for the next few days without much pain.
She decided to make a second appointment with Dr. X the following week. Apparently, no pain, no gain.
Personal Experiences with a PT
If you’ve never had a sports massage of some sort, you may consider it for a nagging ache or pain. Many of us hate those retched massages. I for one despise them, but I also know the more they hurt, the better I feel. I occasionally bite on a towel to help relieve my stress and reaction to the pain. I have only cried on the table once, and that was in college. I’ve gotten stronger since then.
Bottom line, if you’re experience pain, take a day or two off from running. If you’re still experience the pain, make an appointment to see someone who specializes in treating runners.
Have you ever had a painful PT appointment that left you feeling beat up, but magically fixed? Tell us about it in the comments below!