jo skates

Skating in the key of life


All clear! All level!

This morning I saw Megan, my PT, who pronounced my leg length equal and my hips level!!! So we are done with PT for this episode in which, to use her words, “your chassis was all cattywampus.”

We went over a final set of exercises for my foot. Here’s a new (medial) view of the tendons, since in my last post I provided a lateral (away from the center line of the body).384foot6

The affected tendon seems to be the tibialis anterior tendon, so she came up with an eccentric muscle exercise to do. I am to flex my foot with very little effort, then push down on the top of the foot to provide resistance while pointing the toe. I can do this seated using my hands, or use a theraband attached to the leg of the bed or circular weights around the foot while sitting. The trick is not to use force to flex the foot (this would undo the purpose of the exercise) but to really work the foot by providing downward pressure while it is unflexing.

So the recommendation for “professional athletes” on these exercises (which of course I will gleefully adopt) is 15 times a set, with 3 sets per session, punctuated by a 2-minute rest between each one. And I have to do this 3 times a day. For 12 weeks.

No calf raises for a while, and I must take it easy on stressing the foot in other ways, which I hope will be much easier now that my hips are level. (I didn’t really need to put that in boldface, but my rapture level is pretty high right now.)

We also talked about my relearning to walk and run and do other things on my new chassis. She gave me some ideas about Feldenkrais and Alexander technique, which I will look into. But the main thing to try is to pull my lower abdominals as I walk (or skate, or stand). When I do this, I can feel the muscles all around my left hip kick in, front and back, which is a reminder that I haven’t been doing this enough so that it’s instinctive.

So it’s a great day. It’s -6 degrees (F) outside with a wind chill of -28 degrees, so cold that our brand new dishwasher has stopped working and they cancelled school for my kids. But I’ll be singing as I’m doing the piled-up and crusted-on dishes and looking forward to those eccentric exercises and standing tall and level. Hooray!


Happy feet

I’ve been working on this post for several days now, but not been able to finish more than a few sentences. It’s a treat to sit down with a nice steaming cup of something warm (I’ve become quite a fan of Kava Stress Relief tea) and actually try to finish this post. But I have done this multiple times now, and each time something comes up: the email that begs attention, the clock saying it’s time to pick up kids, something cooking in the oven for dinner. Or bedtime for those of us who get up quite early (not to skate, but to prepare for the school bus that picks up at the outrageous time of–gasp!–6:55 a.m.).

It is very very cold here, so the cup of tea (or lunchtime soup, since it is so cold) becomes tepid or down right cold before I get back to it. Still, there are those moments of peace, when the only thing I have to do is tap on the computer–and tap my toes along with the music.

One of my goals for 2015: to have happy feet.

I confess that before last year, I did not give a lot of thought to my feet while skating. Oh sure, I’d have that occasional soreness in my left foot after certain moves. And after a hard-skating session, I’d breathe a sigh of relief after taking off my skates, but who doesn’t? Several years ago when Laurie was teaching us the Paso Doble, she had some great things to say about using one’s feet to help articulate the rhythm and style of the dance. But there were so many other things to think about in that dance that I am only now appreciating her comments.

It’s payback time. The last six months have proven to me how much you use those feet while skating, and how important every part of those feet are. I have been writing mainly about my misaligned hip, but my feet have been much more outspoken (if indeed feet could talk!) about all the posture and balance problems. It was my left foot that gave the clearest signal (ouch! help me!) that something was really wrong.

So after reading a number of web articles, I think I have tendonosis, a kind of degeneration rather than inflammation of tendons (tendinitis) in my foot. It occurs in the area of the tendinous sheath of extensor hallucis longus and/or the tendinous sheath of the tibialis anterior (the long blue thing and the blue thing above it that you can barely see in this diagram).


The difference between tendinitis and tendonosis is that, as one of the articles says, while tendinitis is warm and swollen, tendonosis is “abnormal collagen or protein buildup–the tendon’s microfibers start to resemble sticky, overcooked spaghetti.” (Okay, I’m going to need a moment to recover from that image.) Unfortunately tendonosis also takes much longer to heal (I’ve read from three to nine months), and persists in spite of rest, icing, anti-inflammatories, and all the treatments effective for tendinitis.

I am looking into different eccentric exercises that seem to be recommended by a number of sources. “Eccentric” here doesn’t mean skating around with a bag on one’s head; it refers to the type of muscle contraction. Concentric means that the muscle contracts in the same direction as the joint it moves; eccentric is when the muscle moves in opposition to the direction of the joint. The eccentric muscular exercises presumably help to break down all those sticky spaghetti-like collagen fibers and help the tendon remodel itself. I think this type of exercise is what I did a number of years ago to help with with a dogged case of “tennis elbow.”

The good news is that continued activity (without overdoing it) is actually more beneficial than just sitting around. And the even better news is that my foot does seem to be improving with stretching, massage, and these exercises. Less pain, more mobility.

Speaking of pain–ack, time to shovel snow before it gets trampled into our walk. And then time for bed. I will add pictures tomorrow.

Gotta love those feet!