Thursday morning I slipped on a pair of running shorts and my Run The Bluegrass shirt and headed out the door…to my physical therapy appointment. I went into it with a little bit of excitement but also a little bit of nerves–I didn’t really know what to expect.
My PT, Ryan, is great! We sat down and he asked me the usual questions to get going like if it there was anything that might have suddenly started the pain or if it just showed up. What sports I do, etc. I was quite impressed when I said that I did dog agility with my Corgi and Swedish Vallhund, he asked “Which type of Corgi? Pembroke or Cardigan?” (Most think a Corgi is a Corgi, just one has a tail and one doesn’t.)
Then he got down to manipulating my legs to really pinpoint the pain. He checked the strength in my quads, hamstrings, and hips, as well as their flexibility. He was impressed with how flexible my hamstrings were (“That’s not always normal for a runner”) and how strong my legs were in general, except for my hips (“That’s normal for a runner”). One interesting note: While laying on my stomach, he had me bring my heel to my butt one leg at a time. My right heel came within two fingers of touching my butt cheek, but my left heel was a full hand (including his thumb) from my butt cheek. While he noted that it’s normal for your body to not be symmetrical, this was a concern because of the large difference. Which means I need to work on stretching my quads more.
Verdict: Patellar Tendonitis (cue the “dun dun…DUUUUUNNNN!”)
Then we moved into the gym where, after a quick warmup on a stationary bike, he showed me some stretches and exercises he’d like me to start doing three times a day. The stretches were already ones I incorporate almost daily: standing quad stretch, pigeon pose, and crossing one leg over the other and bending down. I just need to do them more often and hold them longer. The exercises were also ones I have done in the past, but I’m just not as diligent as I should be. I was giving a nifty blue rubber band to do these workouts at home:
To wrap-up the initial appointment, he hooked me up to a little electrode pack to deliver some anti-inflammatory medication straight to my tendon. He said I might feel little pricks, but I didn’t feel much of anything. Twenty minutes later, the appointment was over and I was already scheduled for my second one next week.
Ryan said he felt like we could take care of “my little problem” in about 4-6 weeks, as long as I’m diligent about doing the exercises and the stretches. He said he was impressed that I came in after only a month of discomfort–most runners wait until much longer to come in. He said I could still run, but just know that it could prolong recovery. He told me he hates to tell runners they can’t run, even for short periods of time, because he knows it would drive them crazy (haha, how’d he know??). So I’m going to just do some short runs once or twice a week outside (no jarring on the treadmill any more) when I’m feeling froggy, but I’ll end them with my exercises and extra stretching, as well as icing the knees, like usual.
I’m not going to push it with the running, but it makes me happy to know that I can get back to doing something I’ve come to love, even if I can’t really train for any races at this point. But I’m OK with that.
What’s been your experience with physical therapy and getting back into your sport?