Power in My Step

Non-disclaimer: This starts to sound like an advertisement for Powersteps, but it is not–I am just sharing my excitement to have found something that works for me. ¬†I was not compensated in any way, but I wouldn’t say no to a Powersteps sponsorship… ūüėČ

My life continues to be busy. ¬†There’s nothing exciting going on that I can share regarding that. ¬†However, I do want to give an update on the state of my feet. ¬†They are… getting there. ¬†Improving slowly. ¬†Of course, never as fast as I would like.

I took a walk before my exam last night and had some fun.

I took a walk before my exam last night and had some fun.

Beautiful :)

Beautiful ūüôā

My physical therapist and I made the decision today not to schedule any more appointments. ¬†I am supposed to continue doing my stretches and exercises at home. ¬†If I feel I am getting worse or stop improving, the plan is to go back to the doctor to get another PT referral, but we don’t anticipate that will be the case. ūüôā

Last year, I was really stubborn about not wanting to wear supports in my shoes. ¬†I was convinced that if I worked on strengthening my arches, that would be enough to run injury free. ¬†Obviously, strengthening my arches and associated alignment muscles (think calves, butt, hips) is still something to¬†work¬†on. ¬†I even have exercises from PT to work on those things. ¬†However, everyone’s bone structure and alignment is slightly different and some people are just more prone to issues. ¬†So, after a year of on-and-off injuries, I realized it was probably time to get off my anti-support high horse and actually listen when I was advised, once again, to purchase arch supports.

I did have custom orthotics in my preteen years as a competitive figure skater and they completely resolved the knee issues I was having back then, so I’m not sure why I was so resistant to the idea ten years later, but hey. ¬†I came around. ¬†When I first started going to PT in September for this injury, it was recommended that I get some Powerstep inserts, so I headed to the running store immediately after that first appointment and picked up some Powerstep Pulse orthotics. ¬†They felt great and those alone were already a huge¬†help.

This morning, at what will hopefully be my last appointment for a long time, we realized that when I lift my arch, my big toe comes off the ground, too. ¬†This means I’m not pushing off my big toe to walk, nor am I using it to stabilize myself when I stand. ¬†The only way I can push off my big toe is to consciously roll my foot inwards, which puts strain on, you guessed it, my painful tendon. ¬†Or fascia. ¬†Not sure which. ¬†The painful foot place. ¬†My physical therapist told me this rotation is called forefoot varus. ¬†She made some wedges to place near the balls of my feet to help support my big toes so I can use them the way they are meant to be used, instead of trying to get power from the¬†smaller, weaker muscles in my smaller, weaker toes.

Unfortunately, most over-the-counter orthotics only correct for varus in the heel, even though forefoot varus is relatively common. ¬†I actually have a pretty neutral heel and don’t benefit from heel support, so it turns out that a neutral shoe like the Kinvara (which I love) works great with a customized (i.e. added¬†wedges) Powerstep orthotic, since the Powersteps have a neutral heel cup with no heel correction. ¬†After adding the wedges, my feet feel instantly better. ¬†Not 100% better and not healed, but I would honestly say it cut my pain in half this morning. ¬†I’m sure it helped that she worked to loosen up my right foot a little bit, but both feet feel significantly better and I can already tell I am finally able to use my big toes again!

This probably sounds like an advertisement for Powersteps. ¬†It’s not. ¬†I’m just really excited that I finally may have found a combination of footwear and supports that works for me. ¬†And when these wear out, I will probably drop the $300-$400 it costs to get custom orthotics made just for me so I won’t need the taped-on wedges anymore.

Here’s hoping I’ll be out there running again soon! ¬†That is, more than the ten minutes at a time I have been doing twice a week. ¬†At the very least, I hope the ten minutes will leave me less sore in the arch area than it has been. ¬†Baby steps!

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Life Update – Busy Weeks, Fun Weekends

I have been silent on my blog since my last post about not running almost a month ago. ¬†I have been very busy with my final semester and searching for a job for after graduation. ¬†It’s true what they say about the job search being a full-time job in itself. ¬†I have been attending career fairs and career mixers, sending out my resume to every opportunity, networking, studying for interviews… oh and midterms are coming up this week and next for that school thing!

I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely even noticed the time pass in terms of how long I have been off. ¬†It was just the other night that I was lying in bed and realized it had actually been five weeks since my last run. ¬†That’s enough time off for some stress fractures, and I didn’t even realize it had been that long! ¬†So, as you can imagine, I haven’t been too torn up about not running. ¬†It certainly helps to be so busy during the week that I¬†don’t even have time to think about running.

Where my weeks have been filled with work, school, and looking for work for after school, I have been able to fill my weekends with wonderful experiences. The weekend before last, Matt and I went camping in St. Ignace and visited Mackinac Island, which is something we had talked about doing all summer. ¬†We had a mild summery weekend, so we planned the trip on a whim the day before leaving. ūüôā

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Me in a rock formation

I don’t remember what this rock formation was called, but here I am inside it.

Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints.

I liked this sign at the entrance to a wetland board path.

Under the Mackinac Bridge

Our ferry ride back to the mainland stopped us under the Mackinac Bridge for pictures.

Last week Saturday, I went to a WordPress conference called WordCamp Ann Arbor.  It was for work, but I really wanted to go and had a lot of fun.

WordCamp swag

WordCamp swag.

On Sunday of last week, I biked out to the cider mill with some friends.

Cider Mill ride!

Cider Mill ride!

This Saturday, I went on a breakfast bike ride to (and back home from) the Dexter bakery, where I had a huge and hugely sweet apple fritter. ¬†As you can see, I’ve been reliably cross training about once a week. ūüėõ

Bicycle Dexter poster

Poster in the bakery

Matt’s birthday was last weekend, so I bought us two tickets to last night’s¬†Michigan v. Penn State football game. ¬†It was an “Under the Lights” game and the atmosphere was incredible. ¬†Our team (Michigan) won and it was very fun to watch.

Matt and I wearing light-up glasses.

They gave us light-up glasses.

Lights during the half-time show

The Michigan Marching Band’s halftime show.

Fun was had!

Fun was had!

My proofs came in the mail for my senior pictures!  Oh, and I cut my hair short.

"Hi, I'm professional."

“Hi, I’m professional.”

"But also fun."

“But also fun.”

Finally, because I should probably update you on my injury… I have been attending physical therapy twice a week and my foot improved drastically after the first week. ¬†Since then, improvement has slowed, but, this past¬†Friday, my physical therapist cleared me to try running ten minutes twice a week, with the stipulation that I ice after, warm up, and cool down. ¬†So, on Friday evening, I stretched, walked for five minutes, ran for ten minutes, probably didn’t stop smiling the whole time, and then walked another six minutes home. ¬†My feet felt GREAT during the run, but they were extra sore after. ¬†They hurt quite a bit on Saturday, and I was worried standing for so long at the game would make them even worse. ¬†However, I woke up this morning with virtually no pain. ¬†It’s confusing and I am of course going to wait until at least tomorrow (Monday) to try running again, but I’m excited to be making progress. ūüôā