Monday, February 20, 2012

And the magic number is 3

I started PT tonight.  I wasn't sure what I was about to get myself into, but, I emerged happy with the single hour I spent learning what I need to do to move forward as a runner.  Well, in order to move forward period.

I was seen quite quickly and greeted by a friendly therapist named Helen*.  She led me to a nice little nook with a PT table, and asked me a ton of questions.  You know how someone asks you a ton of questions and you really aren't sure what direction they're going with it?  You aren't really sure if you're answering correctly?  And you don't know why they're asking so many questions?  And you wonder when they'll stop asking so many questions?  What, too many questions?  Sorry.

I wasn't really able to read her at first, but then I uttered two words that got her radar set on high....

pelvic floor

I'm a woman, a mother (2 kids, 1 VBAC, you do the math), and a runner.  I'm familiar with pelvic floor and the complications that can arise from injury to this area.  Am I an expert?  No.  So sue me.
I told her that because I originally felt the pain in "that" area, I worried about pelvic floor injury, which I also mentioned that I later discounted due to the location of the pain.  I'm glad I voiced these two words, because Helen told me that she used to work in womens' health, she's very familiar with issues relating to the pelvic floor muscles and injury to that area.  This made me happy.

I now have a decent PT who is also well versed in womens' health.  I think I hit a jackpot!

How does a mom go from running seven miles at a time to not running at all?

The magic question.  I admitted, it is very hard.  She nodded.  Yes, it is.  I don't cross train.  I don't have a gym membership.  I run.  I like to be outside, I don't like to be in one place, I like to be moving, and I like to pass things on my way.  I have ADD.  Wait, what was the question?

I got on the table after she pretty much discerned that this really is adductor related, not pelvic floor, but, still she felt that I do need to consult my OB to rule any of that out.  Agreed.

So, it's kind of humbling when the PT tells you to push your leg up to the ceiling and don't let her push your leg back to the table, and your leg meets the table as if she told you to go limp.  I did as she instructed, lifting my leg here or there, pushing her hand here and there, laying on this side and that side.  She noticed a few things as we did this exercise.  

I have weakness in my right hip.  Oh, and did you know - not everyone feels a snap across the front of their hip when they move their leg in a certain direction?  Wait.  You did know that?  You don't feel that?  OK.  Let's move on.

So, now we get to the core.  She explains what the key muscle groups are in the core, between the belly button and the pubic bone.  

You mean the ones they sliced through like deli ham when they removed a baby human from my abdomen through a hole half its size seven years ago?

Yes, those.
Laying her hand on my belly, she asked me to suck my belly button into my spine without tiling my pelvis or raising my rib cage.  Ever tried it?  I never had, either.  Now I know why.  Oh, lift my one leg a little?  Then the other?  What?  Start over and don't roll my pelvis this time?  What?  Again?  And don't raise my rib cage?

Does she have any idea how hard this is?

Yes, she does.  That's why you're here, dummy.
She then shows me some stretches that will help target some of my trouble spots.  
  • Adductor, leg to the pubic bone. 
  • Weakness in right hip.
  • Core.  What core?  Ya, get to work, kid.
She wants me to bike and/or swim.  No impact, no running.  Wait, repeat that.


Did you pick yourself up off the floor?  Ya, me, too.  I know, it's what I expected.  Damn, that sucks, though.

Helen and I chatted a little more, and I finally asked her if I could start this core class I've been hearing about from my teammates.  I know, and have known for years, that my core is essentially nonexistent.  I think it went on strike some time after the ninth year of the Presidential Fitness Test in school.  Anyway, Helen said that yes, I can do core class, but, nothing with too much intensity.  I have to build this up slowly, not attack it.  She suggested more of a Pilates approach than a military, drop and give me 30, what did you say, Sissy?, give me 40  more, kind of approach.  OK, I can handle that.

Helen and I ended our session and she walked me to the front desk where she told me that she really likes me and wants to see me three times a week.  OK, so that's not why she wants to see me, but, three times a week for three weeks is the plan.  Three.  The magic number.

I have been assigned exercises to do at home, I must stretch, and I must get to a bike or pool.  The pool part does not excite me in the least.  The bike I could probably handle.  I could numb myself for a short bit of time a few times a week if that's what it takes.  Guess it's time to dust off the iPod and brush up the playlists. 

Off I go into the land of physical therapy with Helen at the helm, steering me to health, getting me back on the road.

You know when I knew I liked Helen?  She asked me almost immediately if I'm training for anything at the moment, and I told her this injury occurred one week before registration opened for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Did you register?

Yes, I did.  

Of course (in a positive tone).
{writes something}
You'll be running the marathon this year (with a smile).

Now that's what I like to hear.

And, for the record - I did shave my legs.

*Her name's not really Helen, I changed her name b/c that's what I do when I talk about people on the internet.