Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Hiking Plans Have Gotten the Boot!

Ah, spring is in the air! Time to lace up those boots and hit the trails, eh?  Well, the best laid plans...

Because, for me, the boot on the left is what I will be wearing for a while, not the boot on the right.

I've had ankle pain for over two months, not agonizing, but pain all the same. I've tried cutting back on walking, doing short 2-3 mile walks only. I've not been hiking. But the pain continued, and I saw an orthopedic doctor a week ago. He thinks I have some kind of tendonitis (or tendonosis) in either my peroneus longus or peroneus brevis tendons, or in both of them. These tendons come off the calf muscles on the outside of one's ankle and attach to the bones of the side of the foot and underneath the foot. And on my left ankle, they are quite sore, with noticeable swelling.

It is frustrating for sure, as active as I like to be and with places to hike and things to see. I had two big hikes planned for April - leading a group hike up Cold Mountain and then going on a three day group backpacking trip in Burkes Garden. But not this April as it turns out. Six weeks in the boot. No walking, no hiking. Stationary bike (the one workout that I dislike more than treadmills) is OK. Hopefully things like squats, leg presses, and lunges will be OK. Elliptical machines may be OK, but maybe not. If it causes pain - not! I can continue upper body workouts, which is good, since I also have a painful partial rotator cuff tear as a result of a nasty fall while hiking last September. I'll tell you, start getting a little old, and things just start falling apart! I'd been contemplating doing Team in Training again, but am really glad I didn't because I would be raising money but not following through with my commitment.

So yeah, frustrating, and awkward to walk at all in the boot. But not the worst thing in the world, or even the worst 500, I would say. I will just need to be patient. Hopefully once the boot comes off - April 24, the day I was supposed to leave for Burkes Garden - I can start trying some short walks and then hikes, and see how it feels. If the pain is gone (and if I don't immediately overdo it in my eagerness to move again), then that will be great, and I can start resuming normal activities - sans the boot. By the way, the boot does not need to be worn all the time: not at night at all, or if I am sitting around watching TV or reading - two things I will probably do more of now. I also found that walking very slowly (in shoes) minimizes the pain.

What is it with my left leg? It is always my left side - a neuroma that took surgery to get past it, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, and now this. I actually wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about the conflict between the left and right sides of my body (like our Congress) when I was dealing with the knee pain before the Shamrock Half Marathon in 2012:

After a week, it's not going so great.  The boot is heavy and awkward, and puts one's entire body out of balance.  As a result, I have wrenched the muscles of my back on the left side a few days ago, and am taking time off from the boot until my back feels better.  I hate being sedentary!