(If you're new here you can read the article describing my project.)
Summary: The last two weeks have been great. The feet feel fantastic. I’ve been doing 30 min of elliptical every-other-day. The hips are engaging and getting stronger. I’ve been able to consistently spend some time out of my orthotics with no issues. Rolfing session #2 has been completed. And my PT has cleared me to experiment with a very very small amount of running.
In the words of that great American George Costanza: “I’m bustin’ Jerry! I’m bustin’!”
Now for some details…………………………
Exercises. I’ve been continuing with the one-legged stance while in a reasonably deep squat position. My PT calls these retro step-ups. I’m not sure if this is his term or a general term. The goal of these has been to make Glute Max take ownership for the balance, and convincing my foot and ankle to calm down. They’ve been going well. One thing I’ve noticed is that I can balance better when my foot has some amount of arch in it. It doesn’t matter whether that arch is there because I have some sort of arch support or I muscularly raise the arch prior to the exercise. The picture to the left is the best image I could find of the position this exercise puts me in. It’s really important to notice that the knee is hardly forward at all. It should be no further forward than the shoelaces.
On another front someone posted on the Runner’s World Forums a link to a great blog – Younger Legs For Older Runners. There is an article specifically on Plantar Fasciitis with some good exercises in it. I’ve been doing those as well.
I tried some of the rope jumping I referenced in my previous blog posting. My first attempts were too much. My feet got aggravated enough where I backed off. I think I just did too much too soon. Fortunately my feet have been in a good enough state for long enough where, by the next day, they were fine.
Physical Therapy. Thanks to a cancellation (I wasn’t scheduled for PT until next week) I saw my PT this week. It was a very encouraging appointment. The next challenge he presented me with is to stand up into a straight-legged position from the one-legged squat position pictured above. Here is the critical piece that just fascinates me for some reason: The motion to raise the torso from the squatting position to standing needs to be done by Glute Max. You don’t want it to be a result of extension of the knee but rather an extension of the hip. Straightening of the knee becomes a secondary result of the extension of the hip. It’s really something. As long as my knee is in the right starting position (no farther forward than the shoelaces) this raising of the torso can be done with the quadriceps reasonably relaxed. I’ve always thought of the quadriceps as having to do this kind of work, but in this position that’s not the case. (One of the things my PT had me do was to get into the wrong starting position – knee more forward than it should be – which causes the quadriceps to do the work of standing you up. He wanted me to understand how it shouldn’t feel. This is one example of why I like the guy so much. He doesn’t just give exercises – but he explains why they’re being done and helps you understand what to look and feel for when you’re home to be sure you’re doing them correctly.)
Weaning Out Of Orthotics. My feet have been feeling so good I thought I might experiment with getting some time out of the orthotics. The feet are getting stronger. I seem to be able to go longer barefoot than before, but I still get an ache when I go too long without shoes (3-4 hours). So I clearly still need to have some amount of arch support.
When my podiatrist first suggested I get out of my old rigid orthotics (not the ones pictured) he suggested I use Superfeet Green inserts. They ended up not providing sufficient support at the time because my feet were so messed up. As a result we ended up going to some flexible orthotics (pictured) and the Superfeets got put in the closet while the acute Plantar Fasciitis symptoms subsided. I thought now they might be a good intermediate step as I try to get out of orthotics and inserts completely.
In my first attempt I went six hours wearing just the Superfeet inserts with no aches or pains whatsoever. Yowsa! I would have never guessed I could have made that kind of progress right out of the chute. So now my plan is to slowly increase that time and see if I can get to wearing only the Superfeets and abandon the orthotics completely.
Rolfing. Rolfing session #2 took place today. This is the one I’ve looked forward to the most: Foundation. This session focused on the feet and shins. There isn’t anything particularly significant to report. There were a few times the pain was pretty intense. I had to ask the Rolfer to ease up a couple of times. It sounds like that is normal. Apparently part of the pain can come from the Rolfer “going in” too fast. If they slow it down it’s easier. Also, she said my left foot (the one I tend to have more trouble with) was pretty stiff and inflexible. The lower legs feel like Jell-O. That’s a good thing. I’m really glad I’m going through this process.
If you have suggestions for what I should be doing I’d love to get them. I want to leverage and report out on as much collective knowledge as I can. Also, if you have any questions about what I’m going through don’t hesitate to email or post a comment.