Monday, April 29, 2013

Healing the Heel

Many of you know that I have been struggling with left foot PF problem for about 11 months now.  The pain doggedly persisted over several of my attempts to shake it off and put a question mark over my Comrades participation this year.  But was it really PF or something else?  Here is the rest of the story..

Since my Comrades DNF last year, I may have been trying to 'cure' a problem I wasn't afflicted with.  I am not saying, I didn't have any problem, but just saying I was chasing a wrong 'problem'.

I quit Comrades last year around 55K after my left foot refused to move and I started dragging left leg due to excessive pain.  At that time I contributed it to running in Vibrams and Plantar Fasciitis (PF).  So, I switched back to Asics and started seeking cure from PF.

And to shake off PF, tried several things from asanas to arch support and much much more.  I consulted several folks including runners who have had PF problem to Physiotherapists.  But all that wild goose did not take me anywhere near solution.

I ran 7 marathons since comrades and each of them was a struggle.  I was no longer enjoying the marathons as I used to before.  So, after struggling thru London Marathon, I decided to seek help from a doctor and started getting ready for it.  I connected with Dr. Krishna Raman and he asked me to do foot X-ray and blood tests via email.

But before I could see Dr. Raman, I met with trainer Radha and her physiotherapist Vidya at the Chennai Runners clinic yesterday and together they seem to have nailed the issue.  After listening through my symptoms and examining my foot, Vidya concluded that what I have is not PF but heel fat pad syndrome.  While the symptoms are the same for both, PF starts lower down the heel and runs through to mid and center of the foot.  But, fat pad syndrome is localized to the heel and could felt by pressing the center of the heel.

In my case, the difference between two heels were stark.  While right heel felt spongy, left of rigid and flat.  According to the stuff on the net, fat pad syndrome could be due to age and or heavy heel strikes.

Heal the heel - So, what is the cure for fat pad syndrome?  Vidya suggested I buy silicone gel heel inserts and use them while running.

I bought the only pair of silicone gel heel insert available at Reliance Foot Print before heading to Lausanne.  I was curious to see the 'results', so went out for a 11k run immediately after landing here.  Glad to report that results are encouraging.  My running gait felt better and I wasn't tentative in my strides.

I am gleefully optimistic that, Radha & Vidya may have finally nailed my elusive left foot problem.  I am not declaring victory yet.. but hopeful.

The real test would be Geneva marathon in 6 days.. will keep you posted.