Monday, August 24, 2009

O Soleus Mio (updated)

I have a rule of thumb for injuries/pain and running. To wit: if running doesn’t make something worse, go ahead and run.

I am at baseline a sore person (not a sorehead; it’s hard to offend me). At any given moment, at least two things will be hurting. Doing a rapid inventory right now, I’ve got: right acromioclavicular joint, low back, right elbow. Depending on the day, it can be my head, neck, shoulders, elbows, thumbs, upper back, lower back, knees, right ankle. I get out of bed in the morning feeling like the arthritic sloth I try to mimic when I set off on each run. I’m not sure if this is normal or not; I asked my husband if he typically has pain somewhere and he said no, which I’m inclined to believe since he’s a bit of a whiner like that and if something is hurting he lets me know about it, but I haven’t done a systematic survey of everyone I know. I don’t think this is particularly related to the passage of time; I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. I also don’t know if it’s because I have a low pain threshold. Past experience would suggest I’m not especially sensitive, but how can one ever really know? Mostly I’m used to it and will maybe pop a few ibuprofen tablets if something’s really bad.

One of the coolest things about running for me is that after a run, everything always hurts LESS.

But now I have been felled by my soleus. The left one. It’s ok for about three miles, and then WOW WOW WOW, does it hurt. I’m not sure what happened to it, although I have a sneaking suspicion it’s related to the fact that although I do very little in the way of stretching before running as evidence doesn’t seem to indicate that it does much for you, I have always done soleus/Achilles stretches simply because it feels right. And lately I’ve been skipping them. (An explanation — featuring a Spiderman action figure! — can be found here.)

All of which is to say, I’m taking my own advice and not running through this (honestly I don’t know if I could anyway), and it’s making me insane in the membrane.

However: I at least have some reason to believe that my knees are going to be a-okay when I’m ninety.

You sitting here reading this: is something always painful somewhere on your body?

UPDATE: Reassuring to know that I’m not alone in my aches & pains, though I’m sorry so many of us are in the club. (And no, I don't have any systemic disease process, fortunately.) I think it’s more accurate to say that I’m tender rather than sore — i.e., things hurt when I use them or push on them, usually not if I don’t bother them.

Re: my soleus. It seemed to be responding, albeit slowly, to decreasing my speed, distance, and frequency, plus new shoes, plus stretching, plus ice — BUT! then I got a chest cold, and am now on a program of unplanned rest. I’m actually happy that if I have to get these things, at least for once they happened together. (My rule of thumb for running when sick: sick above the neck: run; sick below the neck, rest.) So I hope it will be fine when I hit the road again, but I will remain in the dark as to which measures worked.

(Oh, and: the barefoot running thing? I dunno. The idea seems to crop up every now and again but never really catches on. Obviously one can’t run truly barefoot through the city, and while I’m sure those new foot-glove things are wildly sexy, they do change the position of your foot unless you’re naturally spread-toed, so I’m not so sure they really count as barefoot. Anyway I’m sticking with real shoes for the foreseeable future.)

53 comments:

ScienceGirl said...

My neck tends to be in a greater or lesser degree of pain most of the time; if it is just a bit of pain, running makes it better. But if it is quite painful, I (subconsciously) try to hold my head really still when running and make the pain even worse. Other than that, I don't think I have random pains on a regular basis.

Cobblestone said...

I generally have an ache somewhere, I think that it has more to do with the 1-year old I carry around than my general nature.

My knees and hips have improved greatly now that I wear barefoot runners to run and whenever I can as my normal shoe {vibram five fingers if you are curious}. I felt my form shift as I started wearing them, and I'm a little lumbering as I start out but it loosens up pretty quickly.

Jul said...

Painful, not really. Sore/tense, YES. When I'm massaged (or when I attempt to relax), I'm always astounded at what my body feels like when NOT tensed up like a zither string.

The minus side of this is that it takes me literally the first two miles or so of a run to loosen up enough to really find my form and enjoy myself. Everything after that is golden. Everything prior to that feels gawky and ungainly (like, "Holy shit, you think you can RUN? Think again, Robo-Girl!").

AnnaN said...

Hello!

Just stumbled on your blog a couple of weeks ago (concurrently with taking up jogging) and am looking for a good shoe and not sure what to get. I currently wear a Ryka sneaker because it fits my foot and they do offer a running model - is that all in which I should be interested or is there a complex matrix (complete with statistical models!) that I should consult prior to purchasing?

Thanks for any advice. Also: love your blog.

Anna

sarah said...

i am with jul, not painful, but definitely sore or tense. and not always the same place but im sure there is something every day.
it also takes me about twenty minutes to feel like my body is moving the way that it should when i start to work out.

Anonymous said...

We are the opposite of you and TH - I almost never have aches and pains and my husband always has something hurting. But he is like TH in that he whines about it.

Sameka said...

I hope my last ost got through.LOL

MFA Mama said...

Something ALWAYS hurts. I was doing great with the running until felled by godawful shin splints (that evolved into a stress fracture on one side--ouch) and a mystery pain in my abdomen that got worse with running. That's when I stopped and saw a doctor, and it turned out I had a fibroma the size of a baseball on one ovary that was flopping around with motion. I'm two weeks out from a hysterectomy and removal of the offending ovary and fibroma and haven't run in six weeks (insert gnashing of teeth here) and just sitting here my lower back and left neck/shoulder junction are KILLING me. That's WITH good pain drugs from the surgeries (ummm yeah they poked a hole in my bowel mucking around in there and I got peritonitis and a bonus round in the OR three days after the first; lucky me). I have pretty much concluded that I'm just an ouchy person; up until the shin splints (which I was running through with taping and RICE) and the "OMFG there's an alien in my belly and it wants OUT!" issue running made it better, not worse. Any tips for easing back into running after big surgery? The doctor said eight weeks for sex but I forgot to ask specifically about running (hey, I have my priorities...).

Sameka said...

Hey Doctormomma,
I am a soon to be nurse whom stumbled across your blog through one of my favorite blogs that I frequent. I just gave birth to my daughter 5 months ago and am looking for a good way to start running again with the little munckin of course, hope you have some pointers. Oh! and your blog is awwwwsome!!!!

Anne-Marie said...

Since I started running, I often have some hip pain, but it is usually really mild. My knees bug a little too, but that doesn't interfere with running or anything else. I initially had shin splints, but now I run on asphalt and have better shoes-- haven't had an issue with those since.
And thank you for all your running rules/ suggestions, because they have been invaluable to this arthritic sloth.

townmouse said...

I started waking up with various aches and pains from about my mid to late thirties. The cure is to go and sleep on my sister's futon for a couple of nights (other people's sister's futons may also work). I don't get a wink of sleep but I get up feeling like I've gone three rounds with an osteopath and suddenly I can move again.

Jenn Benn said...

Love your blog. Whenever I see maggots at work I think of when you call us "maggots". Cracks me up.

Knock on wood, I rarely hurt, since I started running. Before running, I always had something bothering me, such as my lower back or tension headaches. Now I feel pretty darned good, although tired (school+work+volunteering) and can't complain. Running is definitely helping me stay sane.

Flicka said...

Yes, my neck and back always hurt to some degree. I'm pretty sure this isn't helping my migraines any! I'm glad (in a very weird way) that I'm not the only one who's hurting in some way every day. I was starting to think I needed more therapy than I was getting!

xo
Flicka

3 Bundles for Me said...

I can't tell you how relieved I am to read someone else who is always sore. I seem to always have something bothering me, but I never want to say it! It is usually my lower back, knee or neck. Sometimes my ankle that was reconstructed, but even though I expect that to bother me, it really gives me minimal grief.

And running TOTALLY makes it all feel better. I just started the Couch to 5K program, just for a little regimen. It seems easy so far, but I like the structure.

Any opinions on the program?

Hopefully your soleus feels better ASAP so you can get back out there!

S

C. said...

Rt. ankle. Been on the sidelines since January after a bad accident. Orthopod said I can start getting back into shape with recumbent bike and elliptical. Looking forward to strapping on my running shoes again in the next few months.

Coral said...

My back is always stiff, and can get to sore. Knees, stiff and squeak! Left triceps currently feels like I have ripped it somehow. I think I picked up my grandson before my muscle was warmed up.

And this at aged 46 - gee can't wait for 80!

Blue said...

Doctor Doctor!

Good afternoon! I was wondering, have you read the book "Born to Run" that came out a few months ago and is making news? it's FABulOus and anyone who is a runner or is thinking about running or just experiencing runner's envy would probably really enjoy it. my DH has been running for years every other day. Like 20 years...even when he's on an insane rotation with utter sleep-deprivation, he will get up early enough to run before he has to head back to the hospital.

Elle said...

I only have pain when I run, pain in my knees (patellar tibial syndrome).I usually try to run on a softer trail which helps a lot. Generally no aches and pains, though some jaw tenseness/tmj.

BTW, I am the (now) EM resident for whom you answered your questions in the last post. Thanks for all the answers! To be honest I have not been running 3x weekly, more like 1-2x weekly, but I think it's better than no running. My meager milage does help with the stress and all, and i'm always trying to do a little better, so we'll see how things evolve. I'm still afraid to run at night in my neighborhood, which has something to do with it.

Question: currently I have a virus of some type and feel pretty run down, with pleuritic chest pain and coughing on exertion. Should I still be running? I haven't been, 'cause i'm a wimp.

Megan said...

No Dr.Mama, I'm generally not sore. I'm a fairly clumsy person and am always discovering mystery bruises. Have you run an ANA-8 panel on yourself?

Maggot Meg

Blue said...

oh, i submitted before i answered the ?

I haven't been a consistent runner because after a few weeks or even months of it, i get some IsSUe with some body part. ITB, meniscus, foot, etc. i didn't know how to change so that i could be a sloth a few days a week at least. but that book Born To Run has been giving me hope that it might be possible. I know reading a book about running may not seem that interesting, but i have given it to a number of our friends and family, and they've all really enjoyed it and been grateful. so now that school's back in session and i have no time excuses, i shall return to the streets in an effort to stay with it, albeit with the changes mentioned in that book.

thanks for this dedicated source of encouragement and sustained inspiration to keep at it. you single-handedly keep me hopeful that exercise can and will be part of my life, even when i'm down and don't want to do anything. ♥

SEL said...

Yes, something is always sore: neck/shoulder pain is a constant, and lately a bear of a hamstring pull of some sort. I stretch as much as I can, get massage as often as budget allows, and sometimes pop ibuprofen. It is what it is...

The MSILF said...

Yep, running down my left neck and shoulder, down through the ulnar nerve distribution always sorta hurts, much much worse if I'm sleep deprived. Neck C1-3 joints always hurt - they crack a lot, are weirdly lumpy and flexible. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, I figure there must be a disc or chronic nerve root problem there - but what am I gonna do?

Zombie Mom said...

Was in a car accident last week - mean whiplash pain. However, much better thanks to seven hilly trail miles this morning.... I may not be able to move my head- but at least I don't feel like a slug - chronic pain from c5 nerve root impingement. Running really is the best pain med around - I am addicted.

L. said...

Nope, I don't usually hurt. I'm 33. (I figure the older one gets, the more likely it is that random aches and pains will pop up; but IIRC you are not much older than me.)

Sadly I can't say that I owe this to running--I had a baby three months ago and was not able to run while pregnant. I've gotten out a few times and have been trying to get back into the routine but am being held up by a lot of infant-related logistical issues. I'm really eager to get back into it, though, so I don't feel like I'm making excuses!

Kathleen said...

Yes. Emphatically. Just this morning I was thinking about how I am always in some degree of pain and basically just deal. (I'm a physician too) I've also had the thought that if my husband dealt with the same degree of aches I would hear of nothing else. I guess it's better it's me.

discopitbull said...

Used to skateboard for years, and then put on over 100 lbs that sat there for a couple of decades before I decided enough was enough. I thought the hip/knee pains were from the weight and although I've lost 97 lbs I still wake up every morning stiff and sore. I have pain in my thumbs/forefingers that is hard to kill too. Running/conditioning/NOGI jiu jitsu have all really helped, I can walk and climb stairs pain free for the most part now and feel AWESOME after a run or jits session. I can deal with the nagging pains because I think the parts are all still working properly and aren't threatening abdication so what the hey?

Lauren said...

Nothing typically hurts but I rarely feel entirely comfortable, if that makes any sense.

Bethany said...

Just to add another answer:

No.

Also, you don't have anything lupus- or arthritis-related, correct?

monicac2 said...

I have RA, and when I'm having a flare, yes, I ache. But running does make that better. Currently, my wrists and my right elbow hurt like a mother. But when my RA is not "active" (which, thankfully, is more often than not), I wake up relatively pain-free.

Anonymous said...

Yes, something always hurts. I believe it's a product of the lifestyle I lead... Figure skating, rollerblading, running, biking, yoga. All the time.

If you're super active, especially if you're doing an activity that isn't low intensity, I think it's normal to feel twinges. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just a klutz??? Who knows! :P

I do agree that I usually feel better, instead of worse, after a workout even if I was previously sore.

Hope the injury is healing well!

E. said...

I'm rarely in pain. But I don't tend to bitch a lot about it when I am. It does, however, make me very cranky.

I read that article in the NYT magazine. I was glad to read it, since not long ago I took up running again (partly on your advice) at the spry age of 40.

Anonymous said...

I've had pain for as long as I can remember, especially in my neck and back (and my joints have always cracked, much to my husband's annoyance). I remember going to the doctor when I was little and crying b/c he said nothing was wrong with me. I have visited doctors, chiropractors, and acupuncturists to no avail. Now, I just live with it. I don't really remember what it's like to not have pain.

winecat said...

Yep, left knee. It was smashed between a 2 piece boat dock years ago. During surgery last year the doc also found some pretty profound arthritis. Oh Joy

Pending, PA-S said...

23yo m - no i generally never have pain anywhere. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

Val said...

Always a few aches n' pains... Knees & feet mostly - feet have been the worst here lately! Dx'd w/the ubiquitous plantar fascitis, an ongoing series of cortisone injs, custom & OTC orthotics. Early arthritis in knees & hips, runs in the family!

swimmermom said...

42 yr old fairly active mama here (about 4 workouts/wk, running or swimming) and no, I do not generally have body pain or soreness. I do have a chronic lower back issue (bad disk at L5) but it stays in remission as long as I am running regularly. Running is more effective treatment than any chiropractor or acupuncturist I ever saw. Everyone says swimming is supposed to be great for your back, but that doesn't seem to be the case for me. Running is it.

Jenn Benn said...

Here's a weird coincidence. Like Megan, I also bruise easily, but am never hurting. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

question: how do you feel when you see a high school xc team running past? especially the really really fast ones/

Anonymous said...

I've been running now for thirty-three years. In all that time I've really only had one serious injury, and that occurred within my first year of running. So now I have a chronic tendency toward tendinitis in my left knee, but over the years I've learned how to keep it at bay by faithfully doing three things.

One of them isn't stretching. I've never stretched. I hate stretching. I find it tedious and boring. However (and this is thing number one) I always walk for at least five minutes before I start running. Always. Thing number two is that I always ice the problematic knee after I run, regardless of whether it's been giving me grief. Always. Thing number three is that if I increase my mileage I do it very gradually. I've discovered over the years, through much trial and error, that if I'm consistent about doing those three things then I don't hear from my knee, and if I'm not, I do. Pretty simple.

Jessie

My word verification is "punked." I'm sure there's a message in there somewhere...

Doc on Break said...

Hi Doctor Mama, I am also a physician mama who has decided to stay home for a while. Are there many of us out there or many blogs by people like us? I have started a blog, although I'm not sure if I'll keep it up. I'd love any comments or advice you have. (http://www.doconbreak.blogspot.com/)

I also run and am hoping to start strength training. It's one of my goals for myself during this time at home-- though apparently will have to wait until school starts.

Big_Dave said...

No, no pain. That surprises my docs who say they hear a lot of cracking and crunching of the joints. I figure being pain free might be because I'm diabetic (neuropathy). I don't run but I ride my bike obsessively, which I believe has strengthened my quadriceps so that I might be pain free in the knee myself when I'm ninety.

Annika said...

Usually nothing hurts but due to recent scheduling issues I have been forced to run exclusively on pavement for the last few weeks - oh boy do my ankles and knees hurt. My ankles are swollen...I pop ibuprofen..and I am not running for a week to see what happens.

CindyC said...

I had a hip ache for several months which just got worse every time I ran. I took a break for about two months and now it is gone. But, I cut back on the amount of running (swapped with elliptical) overall and that seems to work.

Old MD Girl said...

I'm with you -- after running or swimming, everything feels better. I'll lie in bed in the morning as still as possible because everything just ACHES, and then I get up and get going, and it's ok. Back and shoulder pain is gone now that I'm back to my regularly scheduled exercise programming. I do have this bizarre thumb pain now.... it's been there for two months and it really hurts to open a jar, but I'm sure it will be better eventually.

Rbelle said...

I, too, am someone who is always hurting somewhere - neck, back, hips, wrists, and knees. Unfortunately, most exercise only seems to make it worse. I don't like running, but I did it for a few months to train for a sprint triathlon, and by the time my race was over, I was having severe hip problems that didn't go away until I stopped doing anything at all, including martial arts and stretching, for about four weeks. Now, I do interval running (run a lap, walk a lap), which helps keep my hip problems from flaring up, and swim when I can, but the martial arts starts up again next week and I'm worried. My mood is generally so much better when I get regular exercise, but it's offset by the crankiness I feel from chronic pain. I'm so tired of hurting all the time, and I'm only 30.

Sarah Shea said...

Hello--
I'm a writer for New York Times, and I'd like to interview you, Doctor Mama, about running with a stroller. Can you pls. email me at bowenshea at gmail? Thanks. I'm on deadline. Hoping to hear from you by midday on Friday, Sept. 18.

Sarah

E. said...

So because (as I mention above) I have taken up running again, I've decided to go back and reread all the running posts you've so graciously clumped together for us, in hopes I can glean some wisdom that will help keep me running and prevent my blowing out my knees.

I'm reading the very first post, chronologically, in your "running" clump (I'm sure there's a more web-savvy word for that, but whatever) and I come across your admission that you consider chocolate "food, not candy."

I've loved you for a long time, DoctorMama, but by god I love you even more after that utterance.

Cal said...

Yes, at any given time something will be hurting, and I don't know why; the neck, an ankle, a shoulder, anything. When it gets bad, like you, I take a couple of ibuprofen, which, thankfully, it is not that often.

Laurel said...

DoctorMama, could you elaborate more on pain *caused by* running?

I pulled or strained something the other day. I hadn't run for a year (pregnant), had only really gotten running last year (thanks in large part to you) and just started up again recently. I suspect the injury was a combination of trying to go too far too soon, not warming up enough, and poor form. I think it's my hamstring tendon...? After a few days' rest I tried again today and--ouch. So clearly I should stay off it, and ice it, but what's a good guideline as to when to try running again? When you start again, should you be totally pain-free? And, although hopefully I don't need to know this, when should one think about seeing an orthopedist?

(I suppose I'll see if I can walk or hike instead, but this is totally bumming me out.)

Thank you!

Mignon said...

Shoot, I missed my open-forum for declaring all aches/pains. Oh well, I will forge ahead, because nowhere else will anyone listen without feigning interest...

I have many pains, all related to acute injuries. But they won't go away (right now, I'm pushing a finger to a piercing pain in my left temple from a partially-dislocated jaw injury from last April). Both right and left ankles have stubborn bone spurs from not fully-healed sprains and they cause me to hobble almost all the time. Right knee is tender from strained MCL from February. And there's a mystery pain in my right hand that forces me to drop my tennis racket on occasion when it spasms. Anyway, these are the ones that are requiring attention right now.

Thank you, that is all.

Anonymous said...

I am 36 years old, and for at least ten years that I can remember, the middle finger on my right hand aches and the middle knuckle is slightly swollen. I have vaguely mentioned it to two different doctors and a few other people over the years, and every one of them has made some flip comment about "using that finger too much," which is just annoying to me.

I think it is probably some sort of arthritis and will eventually be bad enough that someone will take it seriously. For now I basically ignore it, although it is always noticably throbbing after a yoga class.

Paige paigewelle@hotmail.com said...

I have commented before as MrsSSG -- I asked the question last " how do you push through the 3 miles slump?" Well I did. I now run about 5 miles on Sundays for my long run and do 3 a couple of times during the week. Thank you for all of your advice and encouragement. Running is awesome.

ozma said...

Oh, I wish I could pay you to:

(1) Move into my house
(2) Organize my life
(3) Make me run every day.

I think you would have to live with me to get me to run.

WHY AM IN NOT RUNNING? I LIKE RUNNING!!! I said I was going to when my life settled down. It's like I need so much leisure time to accomplish anything?

Argh. I'm going to keep going.

For me, two things were just too painful: Plantar fascitis and shin splints. Shin splints just clear up if you don't run, so it seems like a good idea not to run. Plantar fascitis--I could not even sleep with that and it did get worse...otherwise...yes, you do feel much better. However, I did notice that colds go away much more slowly if I work out with a cold.

Also, I should mention that I jog, not run. I'm like the SLOWEST.