Monday, November 21, 2011

My Physical Therapy Visit

As I mentioned in a previous entry, my marathon-ing career is in jeopardy.  Unless I find a reason why I keep getting debilitating calf cramps in every marathon and buck the trend, then there is really no point for me to keep having the same (sad) story unfold each time I decided to tackle a marathon.

All the Google-ing in the world hasn't really helped me over the years, so I finally decided to see someone about it.

Luckily, I'm in a good running area that had lots of options for physical therapists, some more geared toward runners than others.  I finally decided to visit Catz.

Not that cat.  He wants nothing to do with running, unless it's for kibble.

Catz Physical Therapy Institute operates in a few cities across the country.  When I visited my local branch, I was paired up with Melissa for a consultation to see whether my issue was really one that physical therapy could handle.

Melissa is a super-awesome licensed physical and lymphedema therapist.  She is also a runner herself, having done five marathons and is currently training for the Disney Marathon

After explaining my predicament in detail and answering her questions, she said she was stumped but went through a slew of recommendations.

- fueling: She thinks I'm fine in this area

- hydration/electrolytes: She thinks I'm fine in this area, too

- stretching: I'm doing OK here, maybe more ice baths after running 14+ miles

- medical issues: She doesn't suspect chronic inflammation or something inherently wrong with me, medically, because I don't really have these issues during training, at least not to the degree of the marathon.  However, I can go to the doctor if I want, but most likely, she won't "understand."

- compression socks: Already wear these during runs/races and recently got a pair for pre/post-runs (will review it later).

- gluten or other sensitivity that is causing inflammation in my body: I brushed this one off.

- training: No more concrete for me, street is preferable, but trails work best. Also, no more training runs over 20 miles.

- insoles/orthotics: She looked at my walk and looked at my feet and said they are very flat.  I have a few pairs and should be more consistent with wearing them (I switch shoes and forget to pop out the insoles) to keep my foot in the best position possible as to not have shock affect my calf.  If these don't work, might need $$$ custom ones done for me.

- Galloway method: I have seen this around but didn't want to incorporate walking, ever.  She says it might help "save" my muscles and shouldn't affect my race times if I employ it properly. *need to research*

- running gait analysis: There is likely some biomechanical problem that I have when I run, probably related to some of the other items above, that is essentially screwing my calf.  These issues likely can't be caught in the PT setting because running forms tend to get more sloppy as you go (mile 2 vs. mile 18).  Therefore, she recommended a running coach/gait analyzer.  I haven't had a coach since high school (RIP).


I'm not exactly sure where to go from here, though I may be going to a chiro for a second opinion soon.  Even though I was worried about the expense of physical therapy, I'm kind of bummed that I didn't get my magic bullet, "Hey, let's give you six weeks of therapy, and you'll be cured" answer.  And without an answer, I don't know if I will have the will to run another marathon.

Giving my insoles a permanent home in my shoes is easy.  Avoiding concrete will suck because I don't want to drive to run, but I'm willing to try to see what's possible without it. 

More research is in order, and then I'm going to be more mindful of my running form as I ease back into running.  At some point, I hope to have someone analyze my running, maybe running with "The Ukrainian" instead of solo will help, and then maybe with one of the local running clubs a couple of times.

To be continued.


  1. I think you need weekly massages and spa visits. And less stress Miss. What about yoga?

  2. I wasn't open to run/walk before either. Tried it and my body has thanked me for it! My times even improved and my body wasn't so beat up at the end of a marathon (got rid of a few nagging injuries and the usual cramping -- calves, diaphram, etc, that came with the marathon distance). I'd recommend you give it a try, at least for your long runs. To be honest, (and not to be critical) I've followed your blog for a while and think it's great... but wasn't really sure how the training plan you were following was going to help you e.g. repeditive short sprints??? I think you were just wearing out. Try running more consistant miles, taking walk breaks (personally, I like running 8 mins, walking 1 or 2 mins), and I betcha you'll improve your time and feel way better! Let go of your ego about running straight miles. You will improve and feel better for it.

  3. To the ^^ above person who posted, thanks so much!!

  4. Well, it's a start, right? I agree - I'm always hoping for easy answers... but at least she didn't say that it was hopeless. Maybe these smaller tweaks (especially the walk/run) will make a big difference!

  5. My first marathon I did the run walk strategy. Half time, I beat my half marathon pb, and nailed the marathon. The next day, I ran with no problems. You should think about giving it a go through at least one marathon. If you don't like it, you can always start running cuz you have not depleted your muscles too much.

  6. ok you sound like me...lots of advice none of which you are interested in :)

  7. About Galloway method - just keep in mind - training is different from racing! Take it easy training and your body will still be able to race.