On being betrayed

I hate my body. It’s an untrustworthy piece of rubbish that turns against me the moment I try doing something nice for it. Here I am, trying to get fit and stay healthy, and all it rewards me with is pain.

About a year ago I wrote how I started running. For those of you who missed it, an elliptical trainer gave me false confidence regarding my physical fitness, resulting in a painful case of shin splints when I actually took to the road. That eventually cleared up, and I managed a few more runs. Then winter arrived with  bang, I got a cold, I stopped running, and didn’t start again. I did keep up with other exercise, but not running.

Then, a few weeks ago, I actually felt like running. We had a bout of late-afternoon load shedding (the reason we don’t have to participate in Earth Hour in South Africa – government switches the lights off for us on a weekly basis) so I couldn’t use the computer, I didn’t feel like reading, and the urge to run simply overwhelmed me. This isn’t something that normally happens to me (I regularly amuse myself with quoting Proverbs 28:1 at runners: “The wicked man runs away when no one is chasing him…”) so I dusted off my running shoes and hit the road.

Having learned from last year’s experience, I made sure I warmed up properly and I kept the distance short. No overdoing it this time. All went well for two weeks. I ran four times a week, just under a mile at a time, and after some initial stiffness I considered myself well on the road to becoming properly fit once again.

After last Tuesday’s run my knees hurt a little. Nothing severe, and Wednesday was a rest day in any case, so I didn’t worry. Thursday it was still hurting, so I decided not to run, and by Saturday I could barely walk. The wife consulted Dr. Google (in a complete break with character I didn’t even think of that) and my symptoms perfectly matched what is commonly known as runner’s knee (or patellofemoral pain syndrome).

I read up a bit on the condition, and as it turns out, PFPS isn’t caused by a problem in the knees, but by weakness in the hips (well, that’s one possible cause – as one article put it, the “syndrome” part means nobody’s really hundred percent sure what’s the problem). So I started doing the hip exercises (Did you know you can exercise your hips? I didn’t.) suggested in the article. They were easy enough, though they did introduce me to muscles I didn’t previously know I had.

Come today. My knees were feeling better – still painful if I got up after sitting a while, but I could climb the stairs at my apartment without basically pulling myself up via the hand rails – and I decided to walk to town to fetch my new contact lenses. Big mistake.

I guess subconsciously I must have adjusted my gait to compensate for my aching knees, for after only a few hundred metres my calves started protesting (I walk on average between ten and fifteen kilometres a week, so it’s not an issue of fitness). Luckily the wife was meeting me in town so I could ride home with her. We had a quiet afternoon, having lunch, reading, watching House, a typical Friday. Then I stood up.

I’ve never been stabbed, but the sensation emanating from both hips at that moment is what I’ve always imagined getting stabbed must feel like. It would appear my compensating during the walk did a number on those joints as well.

While sitting down it’s okay, but the moment I try to walk I’m crippled by pain in both my hips and my knees. And my ankles. I can’t think what I could possibly have done to offend them, but they’re hurting as well. I reckon they just saw all the other joints rebelling and wanted to be in on the fun.

Earlier I got up and the wife’s first remark was, “You’re walking like an old man.” Now, I won’t deny that a few strands of silver have started making an appearance in my otherwise black hair, but that hurt, possibly even more than my hips.

Luckily I have ibuprofen to help with the hips. The pain of the insult, though? I’ll just have to live with that.

Stupid, treacherous body.

16 thoughts on “On being betrayed

  1. Shin splints are awful. Hard surfaces lead to them. My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller for my shin splints, great tool for massaging, worked surprisingly very well helped and me recover faster than any other treatment!

  2. All such injuries are generally put down to overuse.
    If you have run previously you should know this – sorry, the mind remembers the fun of running but the body wont let you get away with it unless your fitness is up to scratch.
    And if you have put on a few extra kilos add those to the poundage hitting the tarmac and there go the knees. Buggered.
    And the extra pounds (kilos) make your gait different from when you are fit.
    I have run for years – but after I had a long layoff ( 12 months plus) it’s almost like having to start from scratch.
    Forget to do the Wall Stretch? Three days later, shin splints.
    Forget to do side stretches and tendon stretch – touch of ITB.

    Patience, Herman!
    Remember, Comrades beckons.
    🙂

    1. I don’t think my mind remembers the fun of running – it has yet to experience it 😉 Which begs the question: why on Earth am I torturing myself like this?

      I’m actually a few kilos lighter than this time last year, and quite conditioned in terms of general muscle tone and strength – I’ve been following a regular workout schedule since spring but apparently missed a muscle group or two. I guess the elliptical trainer helped in that respect a year ago, but its bearings are worn out so I haven’t used it in a while.

      Stretching I do. I did cross-country at one point in school, and while the coach did not train us much beyond making us run around the rugby field, he did teach us to stretch properly.

      At least I can walk again today without my wife calling me old, and I managed to climb my building’s stairs without my knees hurting, so I’m mending. I think I’ll give it another week before hitting the road again, though.

  3. Oh, yeah, running. My knees never did entirely recover from a bout of enthusiasm for it when I was in my thirties. These days I walk. I enjoy it more, I see more, and as far as I’ve been able to figure out, it doesn’t do any damage.

    1. I actually love walking, and hiking in particular, but I don’t live near any mountains (which is where hiking trails tend to be located) and we don’t have public rights of way like in the UK, so taking a stroll across the farms in the area isn’t an option, which leaves walking in town. I walk to town often for shopping purposes, but for exercise/enjoyment it becomes a bit boring to just traverse the same side walks day after day.

      And I actually got the daft idea into my head that I want to start doing marathons, so walking won’t cut it.

  4. Aitoggenee! Dit is da’m jammer dat jy so geneig is tot runners knee. Dit wil lyk of jou enigste troos en hoop vir oefening jou stappery is.

    Ek weet nie of dit jou sal troos nie, maar my knieë was ook maar my grootste seer die 2 dae na daai lawwigheid wat ek laas week hierdie tyd mee besig was.

    1. Op hoërskool het ek van stap ook seer knieë gekry. Opgeklaar toe ek ernstig begin fietsry het op kollege, en toe ek laasjaar begin oefen het, het ek spesifiek ook oefening begin doen om my bobene en knieë te versterk, presies om iets soos die te voorkom. Egter nie geweet my heupe is ook sondebokke nie. So leer mens…

      Een van die dae kom doen ek daai lawwigheid saam met jou (mits ek my lyf kan oortuig dis eintlik ‘n goeie ding). Ek dink egter ek sal die half doen vir my eerste keer.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. I am so mad at my body! I’m trying so damn hard to lose weight and get fit and oh it hurts, hurts, hurts ALL the time! Now I have what appears to be a stress fracture in my ankle – not from running, no, from being fat and unfit while WALKING. I spend half an hour gardening and have to come inside for an hour to recover. It makes me SO SO MAD!

    1. It’s like our bodies don’t want to be healthy, the way they punish us for exercising. A stress fracture sounds particularly bad. Careful you don’t make that worse.

      They say gardening can give one a pretty good workout, though.

  6. If it makes you feel any better, try to remember that it’s quite possible to get a lot of exercise in a wheelchair.

    I also recommend chocolate cake to ease the pain. Lots and lots of chocolate cake…

    1. Luckily I’m not at wheelchair-level pain yet (and my building doesn’t have an elevator).

      I’ve actually heard of this chocolate cake theory. Sadly, our oven can’t heat up past 160 degrees (Celcius). My landlord has had people out to look at it multiple times but no one has been able to find the problem. As it’s just the two of us it isn’t a great inconvenience – we do most of our cooking in a small counter-top convection oven – but it does make baking quite impossible (and supermarket cake just never tastes as good).

      1. Herman, you live in South Africa. That means you have access to home industry bakers! ENJOY THEM! Here, in the Eww Ess where EVERYTHING is potentially deadly and no one can sell baked goods unless they are approved to do so by regulators grappling them with moneybags and beating them with giant wodges of paper, you either bake or make do with the disgusting (but legal) heavily medicated crud sold in the stores.

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