I developed tendinitis in my left ankle after an injury in 2007. Immediately after the injury (I fell while on Rollerblades and my ankle was contorted pretty badly) I used the RICE [Rest/Ice/Compression/Elevate] method and took it easy for 2-3 weeks. Then I resumed working out as usual. By 2009, I was running approximately 30 miles per week, but was doing so with lots of pain. The pain was often so bad that it radiated up my leg and into my hip/glutes. When the pain was at its worst, I was unable to sleep on my left side.
Finally in 2009, I decided to get an MRI and that was when I was diagnosed with tendinitis. I started physical therapy 2x/week and was told immediately that I had to stop running, biking, and doing ANY cardio in order for my leg to heal properly. I could barely imagine living like that but wanted it fixed once and for all, so I was cardio-free for nearly 6 months. Things were fine for a while, but as my exercise intensity and frequency increased, the pain, swelling and discomfort returned.
Fast forward to summer/fall of 2011. I was approximately 10 weeks into my 12-week half marathon training program when my injury came back full force after a night of wearing heels and dancing at a friend’s wedding. Neither my massage therapist nor I thought I’d be able to run the race, but we were both willing to try everything we could think of to prevent that from happening. I built in extra stretch time both pre and post runs; I had ice on my leg at every chance I could get; I bought new sneakers to help endure the long hours of standing on my feet at work; I received massage treatments weekly and had extra mini treatments after any run over 4miles. I took the last 2 weeks of that program day by day and I was able to get through and complete my race.
Since that time, just over a year ago, I have gone through strength training programs, Crossfit workouts, sprint and Olympic distance triathlon training, etc. and have almost always had some sort of acute issue when I pushed myself to train at my max. It was frustrating for me both physically and mentally; I knew the rest of my body could train harder- be stronger and faster- but my left ankle was the weak link.
Just a few weeks ago, my partner and I were discussing acupuncture and other forms of eastern medicine. We chatted about our shared belief in the power of eastern medicine and both recognized its 2nd class status in most people’s eyes when compared with western medicine. She had started up with an acupuncturist and was seeing amazing results; she felt immediate relief of pain and swelling in otherwise chronically aggravated areas. She suggested I try something different for my ankle and even went so far as to make me an appointment and treat me to a session (thanks sweetie! )
I went for the appointment last night and I must say, I was very impressed. There was a very thorough intake involved, which included the acupuncturist looking at my tongue. Her one line of initial feedback was “your tongue says you don’t sleep well”. Without any prompting from me, she also correctly identified that I woke frequently in the night to use the bathroom. I was surprised she was able to tell this! She then rolled up my pant legs and inserted very small needles into various spots on my left leg and foot. She also inserted a few needles on the right hand side. The needles did not hurt at all; I actually barely felt a thing. While inserting each needle, she said things like “gallbladder 40”, “stomach 6” to her assistant, who was writing things down on my chart. I still didn’t really know what was going on, or what to expect. Then she left me alone in the quiet, dark, warm, calming room and I dozed off for nearly 45 minutes. When she returned, she performed gua-sha on my left calf and the tightness I had previously felt was completely gone.
Flexing and extending my ankle now brings ZERO pain or discomfort. The swelling is down and my entire leg feels great. I’m convinced enough to go back a few more times and try to reverse the “blocked energy” my acupuncturist says is causing the inflammation.
It has been a LONG road with this ankle injury. I have tried so many things- rest, ice, stretching, modifying exercise, different sneakers, massage, etc and I’ve still battled with swelling and pain. I’m excited to see what results will come with this new and alternative type of medicine.