Went for a run yesterday after a hiatus since the last posting. The week prior to the last trail run Wayne and I did, I had begun to have some physical issues that culminated after that run into what has for the last few weeks been, a frustrating experience (to say the least).
The background: Somewhere during the beginning of the week of January 7th, I incurred an injury initially unbeknownst to me through cutting tennis balls with an exacto blade. I won’t go into the explanation of why I was cutting tennis balls here, it was for my classroom. Over the next couple of days my left arm started aching dully first in the bicep and then radiating down into the lower arm along the bones. (I have since been told this is a classic sign of nerve irritation). I also experienced some plantar fasciitis in my left heel, I believe these were ironically enough related signs and symptoms of a back beginning to tighten up. After a couple of days of a break and utilizing some stretches a friend told me about the heel issue went away and I felt bold enough to go for the Tanawha run with Wayne. (See previous post). What I did not explain in this post was the increasingly dull ache that accompanied the final few miles of the walk to the car and the recognition that the pain was now eminating from the center of my upper back just between my spine and left shoulder blade.
Russ’s Solution Take One: I have a recurring issue that hits about once or twice a year where I get what I call a crick in my neck or “Frankenstein Neck”. Suffice to say it usually works itself out within no more than a week. I figured this was a similar situation and would just give it some time and rest. Six days, copious amounts of vitamin I, and no improvement later I was beginning to get desperate. If anything it felt like it was getting worse.
Russ’s Solution Take Two: I broke down and went to urgent care on Friday after school. I was diagnosed with a muscle spasm, given a prescription for muscle relaxants and sent on my way. I spent the weekend largely on my back applying a heating pad periodically and watching the boob tube.
Discoveries made during this time.
1. Laying on your back long enough eventually causes pain seemingly everywhere else.
2. Muscle relaxants don’t relax muscles in spasm or at least they didn’t relax my spasming muscles.
3. Intermittent back pain sucks
4. My wife suspects this is just a giant ploy to lay down and watch tv
5. My wife suspects that I am a big wimp when it comes to pain of any kind.
6. My wife could be right on both counts except when I try to sit up for longer than a few minutes and the pain shoots down my arm.
7. Thinking about the running I should be doing to be ready for my marathon does not improve my condition or outlook.
8. Intermittent back pain sucks.
9. In the realm of back pain my current condition probably amounts to something on par with a paper cut for most chronic back pain sufferers out there.
10. And finally I am a huge wimp when it comes to pain.
The weekend passed without change in my condition or position on the couch. A work day allowed me to ease back into the upright position. I thought I sensed a slight improvement but over the subsequent days left me in uncomfortable positions trying to alieve the burning aching sensations in my arm and back. I was beginning to become despondent. How long was this going to take? Would this ever get better? I know it was roughly a week and a half in two if you counted the day of initial onset. A patient man I am not. I figured I would give the muscle relaxants through the weekend before abandoning them. Saturday and Sunday I intentionally stayed in the supine position trying not to move any other muscle in my body. They all seemed directly attached to the one in my back and caused pangs that dropped me into even darker moods.
Russ’s solution Take Three: One of the guys that I run with is married to a Physical Therapist. I know I know why the hell didn’t I just harass this poor woman from the get go. Well after a couple of weeks worth of off and on suffering my resistance to bothering someone I hadn’t even officially met and who I’m sure gets this sort of , “ hey since you’re a p.t. can you check this nagging issue out for me” treatment all the time, was gone. I caved called Maureen up and after offering some thoughts over the phone she threw out the golden phrase. “I could check it out for you.” Twenty minutes later I’m in Maureen’s entry way with a pathetic peace offering of my last home brewed stout (well at least it was a full 16 ouncer).
Maureen gave me the once over and then started with her magic. She manipulated some of my vertibra and gave me some good stretches but most importantly encouraged me to go ahead and try some light running in the hopes that the movement would help loosen things up and possibly aid in the recovery.
Present: After giving myself a full day and a half to make sure the muscle relaxants were out of my system, I headed over to Valle Crucis park yesterday after school. It was glorious. Monday was kind of rough with some pain and discomfort throughout the day. Thanks to Maureen the pain had moved a little higher in the back but was much less intense and the stretches she had given me were helping. Yesterday the ache was much less pronounced and stretching throughout the day kept it at bay. During the run I felt no pain and it felt wonderful to be running again. Unintentionally I was cranking out 7:30 miles without trying to push too hard. After the run as I cooled down the ache returned but I feel it was with an even more diminished intensity.
Today the ache is still there but at least I know that for my run this afternoon I could be putting another nail in its eventual coffin.