As I’ve been sharing the past month, I’ve been recovering from a stress fracture in my calcaneus (heel bone), which went right across the heel from the Achilles to the plantar fascia. From a mechanics standpoint, the stress fracture was likely instigated by a reaction/compensation to stings and swelling in my foot, which caused a tear/tightness/imbalanced pulling between the Achilles and plantar fascia on the bone. I’m not kidding when I say it felt like my foot was splitting in half when I got to the top of a hill around mile 15 at the Quebec City Marathon!
I had my 1-month follow up appt. last Monday. They took x-rays, which showed impressive healing and bone formation going across the calcaneus. You could see bone callus formation where the Achilles attaches and then a bit of a bone spur on the bottom where the plantar fascia attaches. She said the bone spur would go away, as long as I continued to stretch the feet and calves. I can tell everything is getting stretched back out from running.
Any pain I feel right now isn’t from the bone (which is healed) but rather from the soft tissue. I have (or had) a sizeable knot/scar tissue in my plantar fascia/arch, which is gradually getting smaller and less painful. It feels like the running is helping to stretch this out– I notice the knot is palpably getting smaller and less painful each day. The doctor said to give myself the next 2 weeks to ease back into running, to allow everything to stretch and normalize. When I step out of bed each day, I have some soreness/stiffness in my Achilles/ankle, but not really in my plantar fascia. This pain/stiffness is gradually becoming less, and my foot is feeling more stable.
An interesting suggestion I’ve had by 3 people (OCU trainer, Dr. Smith, and my chiro/ART guy Kevin Jones) is to wear a Strassburg sock or nightsplint at night. What happens is when you sleep, your foot is in a plantar flexed position (toe pointed down), which means the Achilles and plantar fascia aren’t in a stretched state. Since your body heals and repairs itself in your sleep, the scar tissue further creates tightness. Then, when you step out of bed in the morning… since you haven’t stretched the Achilles/PF for 7-8+ hours, plus with the scar tissue… it feels extremely tight and stiff (until you’ve walked around a bit to loosen everything up)! Thus, things such as the Strassburg sock and night splint have been created so the foot remains in a stretched/neutral/90+ degree position.
As I talked about with Kevin, the problems with the Strassburg sock and the nightsplint is that it stretches beyond what’s normal for the foot. He believes it’s better/more natural for the whole foot to be held at a 90 degree position. I had an “a ha” moment and realized my walking boot would hold my foot at 90 degrees. Sooo… last week I decided to sleep with my boot on, to see how it feels getting out of bed in the morning. Sure enough… the next morning, I took off my boot and was able to walk around without the usual pain and stiffness! I continued to sleep with the boot on (a little clunky, while trying not to “kick” my hubby in the middle of the night!).
Between ART treatments from Kevin, getting back to consistent running, wearing the boot at night, running twice a day, and also a little barefoot running at the golf course, the foot is almost stretched back to normal… feeling better every day!