Do you remember my knee injury? The one that started in Barcelona, persisted at the Milan Marathon and gave me grief during the marathon portion of Ironman Zurich? You’ll be happy to know that I finally figured it out and am now completely healed.
I would like to say that it’s been an interesting journey, but what I probably mean is… “Holy f***! How did I not see what I was doing??!?!”
Let me back up here and give you a little background. Every time I’ve seen my osteopath over the last 15 years, he always has to adjust my left ankle. It gets blocked and seized up, which misaligns with my tibia and then I have problems there too.
The first time he looked at it he asked, “Have you ever had an accident or been in a traumatic situation? Car accident? Bike accident?”.
My answer was always no. No accidents. No falls or spills.
After Ironamn Zurich I stopped running altogether while I tried to find a solution for my aching knee. I maintained my aerobic fitness with cycling and swimming. I restarted weekly yoga classes to realign my body. Whenever I did downward dog or an asana that pulled my leg muscles I’d feel a little twinge on my ankle, right where the fibula ends.
I remembered that I’d always had problems with my left ankle and that most likely my actual problem was not my knee, but rather my ankle.
So I started paying more attention to it and how it functioned (for me). I doubled my Storking sessions in front of the television. I bought a balance board to work my ankles in a different way. I paid attention to how I placed my feet in different situations.
Then just the other day I went and sat down to write at my desk and BAM! I got it. I made the connection. And I have to tell you… I’ve never felt so stupid in my entire life.
First, let me show you how I sit at my desk. I use an adjustable stool (it’s for my back) which is super comfortable.
Yes, I sit on my ankle. All the time.
When I made the connection I got up and tried sitting on my right ankle. Nope, not comfortable at all and not the same thing.
Then I had a flashback… whoa… all the way back to elementary school. We had school desks that were melded with the chair, like this…
I remember sticking my foot under my leg. My foot would fall asleep but I really loved that strange position. So much that I’ve kept it up for fifty years!
From January to June I was working on the Up & Running book (more about this very soon!) so my writing time tripled and my anxiety most likely drove me to find comfort sticking my left foot underneath me. Now that I’m aware of it I see how often I was doing it. I probably sat on my left ankle at least ten times a day.
My knee is now healed and I’m rehabilitating the ankle with the aforementioned exercises. I can now run a painless 5K so it’s time to gradually work up my distance.
So what can we learn from the craziest injury EVER!?
- The site of an injury may not be the main source of the problem. Actually, it hardly ever is.
- Know exactly what you’re dealing with before popping pills or ponying up for an injection. I say this because most runners want to get back to running NOW! and would rather take anti-inflammatories or a miracle drug before understanding the real problem.
- “No running” does not mean sitting on the couch and chilling. It means cranking out laps at the pool or hitting a Spin class to keep your fitness up. That way when you’re ready to run again you’re not starting from zero. I can promise you, starting from zero is discouraging and really sucks.
- Pay attention to your own postural habits. The way you eat, sit and sleep has an impact on your running.