If you train hard then chances are you experience the same tightness, muscle soreness and aches and pains as me.  It is probably part of it and not unusual.  I do regular stretching, some yoga and a bit of foam rolling.  And yet the aches and pains persist.  The accumulated fatigue of endurance sport is one reason.  At 38 I am not getting any younger, and I don’t recover as quickly as I did as a sprightly 20 something.  The other thing is that despite a focus on running technique, there are small muscular imbalances that do exist and over time place more stress on certain parts of the body than others.  The result…constant niggles and a greater chance of injury.

And this is where I am right now.  Just 4 days out from the 2018 Amsterdam Marathon I have been experiencing pain in the top of my foot/ankle area that has been slowing me down, and most recently forced me to stop after only 2 kilometres.  Not a great place to be and it prompted an emergency visit to the physio.  I was convinced the news would be bad.

“No chance of running a marathon at the weekend!”

“You have a tendonitis and need to rest.”

To be honest it would have been my own fault for not being proactive when the discomfort started to build about two weeks ago.  Like many other runners I persuaded myself that it was a minor niggle that would simply go away.  It did not cross my mind that it could become much more serious and that I needed professional advice.  Quite why I thought that was a good idea I do not know?

So to the physio I went and after a thorough examination I got some very positive news.  No ankle tendon issues, not ligament problems and no soft tissue injury, despite the discomfort in the area when running.  Then came an assessment of common pressure points in the muscles of the tibialis anterior, the calf, the hamstring, the glute and the lower back.  All of which were tight and had obvious trigger points.  Could it be that this was placing additional pressure on the nerves in the leg and causing an uncomfortable sensation in the ankle when landing and toeing off?  Not something that I knew anything about but I was pleased to hear it when the physio uttered those unlikely words…

“I can’t promise but there is a chance that we can get you in a condition to run this weekend.”

I will take that from where I was and the excitement levels started to increase.  The mood lifted and the doom and gloom of not being able to run after months of training was pushed to one side.  I have “a chance”.  Some acupuncture of the tight muscles, certainly not the most pleasant experience, but has always made a big difference to me, and the pressure build up in the ankle had definitely reduced.  The muscles were a bit tender but the sensation in my ankle was significantly improved.  Two more days of rest were prescribed before a testing the leg on Thursday.  If I come through this run.  I can race!

I then started to think about why I always wait until there is seemingly no other option before I see a physio?  Sure there is a significant cost involved, but could this be money well spent?  I think so.  Some injuries are due to one off incidents, but many are due to overuse and continuous reps.  Maybe the odd visit for a check up is better than waiting for the injury to happen and a series of costly follow up appointments for treatment.  For someone who trains hard, prefers not to live in a state of discomfort, I stretch, I have rest days, eat well , and yet I can honestly say that I have constant niggles.  My glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles are always tight.  No longer do I just think this is simply the norm.  Something to live with as a result of the endurance training.  This tightness might be a sign of things that are not the way they should be, and in the case I put my participation in the marathon in genuine doubt (and I still may not make it).  If so I only have myself to blame.

The physios that I use are absolutely fantastic.  They always give great advice and I can honestly say they have always helped me improve my condition.  So from now on I intend to have periodic check ups to make sure that there is nothing sinister going on, or even small imbalances that put unnecessary stress on the body.  I have booked a physical assessment or “screening” for two weeks today.  I want to do my best to keep my body road worthy and no longer will I wait for disaster to almost strike before getting professional advice.

Featured photo from Unsplash.com