Physical Therapy is Not Fun

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I was planning on doing a few of my world-famous “Monkey Mini-Updates” throughout the week to discuss the latest developments. That all went out the window after my first trip to physical therapy. I decided that a massive (i.e. “non-mini”) update would be required. And of course and “massive” update requires two things. A). time and B). alcohol.

Hey look! It’s Friday night, my fiancee went to bed at 9:30, I just discovered that “Highlander” really doesn’t hold up after 25 years and I’ve got a whole mess of beer in the fridge. Let’s get to writin’.

Let’s just say – for the sake of argument – that I’m chasing after you and wish to do you harm. I don’t know why. Maybe I have that rage virus from “28 Days Later” or you told me that you like “Fall Out Boy.” Doesn’t matter. I’m angry and am comin’ to get you. Here’s a simple tip: Tie an elastic band around my ankles and make walk sideways. I will give up in approximately 5-7 steps.

A bit of background. I’ve been trying to cure my ITBS on my own. It hasn’t been working. I checked online and composed a workout routine full of stretching and hip strengthening exercises. It was not a success. So about 10 days ago, I finally snapped and went to my doctor. Luckily, my doctor is a long-distance runner himself, so he understood right away that I had ITBS. It’s still pretty embarrassing to have this conversation though:

Doctor: Does your knee hurt right now?
Me: No
Doctor: Does it hurt when you get out of bed?
Me: No
Doctor: Does it hurt when you walk up stairs?
Me: No
Doctor: In the past 24 hours, has it hurt at all.
Me: No
Doctor: Well, when does it hurt?
Me: When I run.
Doctor: When you start running?
Me: No.
Doctor: Then when?
Me: After exactly 1.5 miles.
Doctor: And it hurts only then?
Me: Oh yeah, like the dickens.
Doctor: Have you thought of not running and doing something else to maintain your cardiovascular health?
Me: Hasn’t crossed my mind.

I’ve had that conversation three different times in the past 10 days.

So my doctor wrote me a prescription for physical therapy – 2-3 times per week for a month. I finished up my first week of physical therapy this afternoon. Guess what? It’s not fun. My first visit to my physical therapist started out with a similar conversation to the one above. She then took a bunch of baseline measurements – i.e., my flexibility, my leg strength, my hip strength. For those playing along at home, iliotibial band syndrome rears it’s ugly head when a runner has A). poor form, B). a tight IT band and C). weak hip muscles. I have all three. In fact, and I’m not making this up, I have the hip strength of a “65-year old man.”

As for my flexibility – I don’t have any. I’m a toe-walker. I have been my entire life. Anybody knows me knows that I walk funny. I don’t walk heel to toe. The heel pretty much isn’t even in the equation. This allows me to walk with a very manly bounce in my step, but it also means that my I ain’t all that flexible. Trust me, if I could change it I would, but I can’t so I won’t.

So my new workout regime is a healthy dose of stretching and hip-strengthening exercises. Pretty much what I was doing at home, but – of course – I wasn’t doing it right at home at all. Everything I know about stretching came from playing sports as a kid. Touch your toes, count to ten, etc. Not worthwhile at all.

I have about 10 stretches that I have to do every day at home. I am required to do each stretch three times for 30 seconds. That’s a lot of stretching.

But okay, fine, stretching is what it is. It’s boring and everything but it’s not that bad.

The hip strengthening exercises – that’s what’s bad. Remember when I said that I have the hip strength of a 65-year-old man? That’s not good. So during my physical therapy visits, they run my poor hips through the wringer.

The exercise I outlined above – the one where I have an elastic band around my ankles have have to walk sideways for about 20 yards? That sucks. There’s also “the Clamshell” where the elastic band is now wrapped around my knees and I have to — well, you get the idea. The “One-Legged Bridge” is also pretty fun. It’s like some sadomasochist Kama Sutra.

But the good news? Yesterday I took another trip to the gym to jump on a treadmill. I ran two miles without any problems. No sign of knee trouble at all. I’m planning – weather permitting – an outside run tomorrow. I figure the more that my physical therapist makes me cry, the closer I am to being able to go back outside and run 6 miles per day.

Wait, why am I doing this again?

One Response to “Physical Therapy is Not Fun”

  1. The Long Road to Recovery: Part 1 « The Running Jerks Says:

    […] problems. So finally, after two months of being a stubborn ass and trying to fix my own problems, I went to a doctor. Doctor prescribed physical therapy. Physical therapy was not […]

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