calf stretch

Safely Returning to Exercise?

Monday morning I had an appointment with the podiatrist. Thankfully the referral from last week was fast and I got in to see him without waiting weeks (which is typical).

I slept in a little bit (even though I didn’t sleep well Sunday night) and then went to the doctor.

The doctor was very nice. I liked him much better than Dr. Asshole from last week–plus he spent about 40 minutes with me.  Dr. Asshole diagnosed me in 3 seconds.

He did a full exam of my feet, ankles, calves. He checked stability, range of motion and other exams on the my left ankle. His conclusion?

I do not have Achilles Tendinitis.

After all the testing he did, he determined that I did not have Achilles problems. That my ankles are strong and not swollen, bruised or painful to the touch–all good things.

He thinks that I strained a muscle or maybe even the medial tendon–but not the Achilles. He was leaning more towards a strained muscle which is good news for me! He asked me about my activities. I explained that I’ve been doing swimming and upper body weight training.

He asked me if  I stand while lifting weights–I said no. He said good (for now). He said that I can stop wearing the boot tomorrow because it will cause more harm than good (back pain, hip pain, leg pain) when I don’t even have Achilles Tendinitis. Good news.

Now onto the other foot.

More good news: I do not have Plantar Fasciitis!

It was such a relief and I’m so glad I went to the podiatrist. He said that the area of my arch where I was having the weird twinge wasn’t plantar fasciitis. His recommendations:

  • Don’t go barefoot.
  • Wear shoes with good arch support.
  • Wear my good running shoes when I just walk around all day (I do that).
  • Wear my good running shoes (a new pair) when I run only (I do that).
  • Do calf stretches!!!!

The above photos is the calf stretch I now have to do every day for the rest of my life so that I do not develop plantar fasciitis.

His directives:

  1. Don’t be too far back from the wall.
  2. Hold it for 30 seconds minimum at a time.
  3. Release, repeat for a total of 3 times.
  4. Always do the calf stretch before physical activities.
  5. He recommends the calf stretch first thing in the morning.
  6. Skip the calf stretch on the stairs.

He also said that anything less than 30 seconds is detrimental. Holding the stretch for 15-20 seconds only means that the muscles and fibers just tighten up, shorten, and then eventually tear. Good to know.

What was my next question for the doc? When is it safe to return to exercising normally?

You can safely return to your sport when you meet the following conditions:

  • You have your physician’s “okay.”
  • You are pain-free.
  • You have no swelling.
  • You have full range of motion (compared to the uninjured side).
  • You have full or close to full (90 percent) strength (again, compare with the uninjured side)
  • You can jog straight ahead without pain or limping.
  • You can sprint straight ahead without pain or limping.
  • You can jump on both legs without pain and you can jump on the injured leg without pain.

I’m cleared for exercise! He said that swimming is excellent (which I knew). He said to take it easy the rest of this week then try easy exercise on Saturday. For example the exercise bike at a low resistance. Yay!

I’m also supposed to continue the anti-inflammatory medication for a few more weeks then stop. It’s basically a one-a-day extra strong Motrin.

After some thought I’m wondering if I just strained something in my ankle on the elliptical machine last week. It was a machine I don’t normally use and maybe I wasn’t doing it properly (i.e. lifting my heel too much). Quite possible.

I’m happy with the doctor visit and I’m happy with the outcome. I hope he’s right! Thank you all for the well-wishes and positive thoughts!

QUESTION: Have you ever been mis-diagnosed?