Have you thought about your feet lately? Most of us don’t appreciate our feet the way we should. We are too busy and take our mobility for granted. Until we can’t. I recently learned this the hard way.
One day in mid-January I was on the treadmill when my left foot suddenly started hurting. I had gained a couple of pounds over the holidays, so I’d upped my treadmill workout—nothing spectacular, just a bit longer at a slightly higher speed. When the pain persisted for a few days, I hit the Internet for a diagnosis. Yes, yes, I know—I should have called the doctor. However, I’d never had any kind of sports injury before, and I was sure it was nothing serious. Besides, I hadn’t done anything except walk on the treadmill. The pain was very localized on the top of my foot, and after a little research, I decided it must be extensor tendinitis. So I suspended my exercise, iced my foot, and took ibuprofen.
But as the weeks dragged on, the pain didn’t get any better. After six weeks without improvement, I finally broke down and went to the doctor. He sent me to a podiatrist, and the diagnosis shocked me—a stress fracture of the second metatarsal. How could I possibly get a stress fracture from walking on the treadmill? I’ll grant you I’m not as young as I used to be, but I’m not THAT old!
The prescription was six weeks wearing a compression sleeve on my foot and heavy hiking boots. Oh, and I was supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible. Haha! I gave the podiatrist the benefit of the doubt because he didn’t know me, but seriously, there was no way I was going to lie around the house with my foot elevated for six weeks. I’d already been much less active than normal for six weeks.
I grumbled but complied, within reason, and finally the day arrived when I could shed my boots and move freely again without pain. Yippee! I started to exercise again, carefully. Again I was shocked. Three months of restricted activity had destroyed my conditioning, which hadn’t been world class to begin with. It was almost like starting from scratch. I also cringed at every twinge in my foot, afraid I might break another bone. I’ve turned into a freaking little old lady overnight!
When I turned sixty last year, my mother warned me, “This is the time when everything starts to change.” She was right. My injury has forced me to face the fact that my body has changed, and I have to adjust to accommodate those changes. I don’t like that. I’m no athlete, but I’ve exercised six days a week for the past eight years. It’s my slap in the face of menopause.
Since my fracture healed, I’ve gone back to the same schedule, but with adjustments. I’m trying to be kinder to my joints by keeping my treadmill sessions at a lower level for the time being and alternating days with strengthening exercises with resistance bands. It seems to be making a difference. I do feel better and have actually lost a couple of pounds.
The best thing about being back on my feet is being able to walk outside again. It’s notmuch fun looking at paradise through a window. Here are a couple of pictures of one of my favorite hiking places. Point Lobos State Park is one of the most picturesque places on the planet and only fifteen minutes from my house. If some of us get together for a writer’s retreat here next year, I promise to share it with any interested hikers. Trust me—you won’t be sorry.