At the end of January I wrote about the importance of strengthening our feet. I talked about creating a program for my friend Mariana who was suffering from achilles tendonitis. While creating her program, I realized that I probably have a form of tendonitis in my left foot.
Well it has gotten worse.
So bad that I have finally faced reality. If I keep doing what I am doing I will have a much more serious injury on my hands (feet). Maybe something in the form of a stress fracture.
The pain has now spread from just my arch to the top of my foot as well. It certainly did not help when I dropped a 10 lb. dumbbell on my foot a few months ago. Yeah, I am a smarty pants and rested my dumbbells on the squishy bench between sets and paid the price.
I feel pain whenever I walk, stand for too long, stretch my foot or calf, and especially when running. This does not bode well. As a certified personal trainer, I am ashamed that I let my pride get in the way of stepping back and responding to persistent pain. If you experience pain for several weeks, please go see a professional doctor, orthopedist, etc.
(the offending foot)
Of course I have not gone to see any of those professionals (hypocrite much?) because I know that a doctor will just say to get off my foot, stick to low-impact exercise, stretch and roll my foot and calf, and do specific strengthening exercises for my foot and calf. Oh and he will probably put my foot in a boot or brace to immobilize it. All for a hefty price.
So here is what I have been doing for the last two weeks:
1. Stopped running. Instead of running I have stuck to the bike, rowing machine, and slow walking. I get my interval workouts and cardio from spin class. Honestly, I do not miss running at all!
2. Retired my Vibrams for now. I bought these barefoot shoes in January because I believe in the barefoot running approach to strengthen our feet and improve our gait. However, I know now that I started with too much activity too soon in the shoes which only aggravated my tendonitis. I still believe in minimalist shoes, especially for lower body lifting, but am sticking to supportive shoes now to give the muscles in my feet time to heal.
3. Only low-impact exercise. No plyo moves, no jumping, no running, and definitely no sprinting. I have really amped up these moves in the last several months because of their efficiency. Amping up your workout with HIIT, pylo moves, circuit training, and sprints elevates your heart-rate, increases your agility and muscle endurance, and gives you a great after-burn. However, it puts a great deal of stress on your body (which is why it so effective at changing your body!) and right now I need less stress to bring down inflammation in my foot.
4. Focus on stretching and self-myofascial release. Everyday I roll the bottom of my feet on a baseball and stretch my crazy inflexible calves. My calves have always been the most inflexible part of my body, resulting chronic lower-leg injuries throughout my entire sports history. In gymnastics I suffered a sprained ankle, heel stress fractures, and chronic heel pain. In diving I suffered from intense shin splints. Now I have arch and general foot pain. Gaining calf flexibility will decrease strain on the tendons in my foot.
5. Feet strengthening exercises. Everyday I try to walk on my toes for a minute and walk on my heels for a minute. I also have added several lateral leg exercises to increase my lateral hip strength.
I will continue to follow this plan until the pain while walking goes away. If the pain is still present for 6 or more weeks I will suck it up and go to a doctor.
Our feet are the foundation of our body and must be healthy, flexible, and strong. I am finally taking the steps (literally! haha..) to rest my feet and allow them to heal (heel? hehe) so the rest of my body can move in the best possible way.
When you love exercise as much as I do, it is difficult to admit that you are injured until it becomes a serious debilitation. Take it from me.
Listen to your body. Rest. Heal. Repeat.