It was bound to happen eventually! No matter how careful you are and no matter what sport you choose to take part in being active always carries the risk of injury. That said, I think the health benefits of being active far outweigh the risk. Being fit and active might mean I have to deal with the occasional angry muscles or joint but I will take that over the deteriorating long-lasting effects of a more sedentary lifestyle any day! In my case, the injury that chose to plague me is Peroneal Tendonitis and if I am honest I brought it on myself. Running after peroneal tendonitis was a challenge I would rather not go through again – but it did teach me a lot!
There are ways to help limit your chance of injury and I was slacking on a lot of them. I wasn’t following my own advice and adding in the desire to beat a yearly challenge on the running app I overdid things. You know what the say though – do as I say not as I do! So don’t be like me and train yourself into an injury!
When you are truly passionate about reaching a goal, however, it’s very easy to push just a bit too far a bit too fast. So if you find yourself in the same boat, or you just want to read a cautionary tale here’s my running injury story!
Running after Peroneal Tendonitis, Recovery and Motivation
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Running after Peroneal Tendonitis – The Initial Injury
This one kind of crept up on me, to be honest. I had been increasing my mileage slowly as I normally do but had been adding a few more short runs in between. I couldn’t help it, I just love the way I feel after a run. they were short runs and I wasn’t pushing it but in retrospect, the lack of rest between harder runs likely attributed to the whole situation.
On my long run day, I managed 6 miles for the first time. I was sore, especially on the outer edge of my left foot, but strange aches aren’t overly unusual after increasing my distance. I went home, took a shower and the soreness faded away so I forgot about it. The next day was supposed to be a rest day but I noticed that I was only a few miles off completing a challenge on my running app.
Making it Worse
What are a few extra miles? I felt fine. A Bit stiff, but that would probably work itself out as I went. In fact, I convinced myself that a run would probably be good for working out that stiffness. About halfway through the run, I noticed an ache on the outside edge of my foot. It was annoying but it wasn’t getting worse so I ignored it and kept running (mistake 1).
The pain got infinitely worse when I stopped running. The slight ache I felt while running compounded into actual pain during the walk home. By the time I got to my door, I was limping. Okay, maybe I stepped wrong. I’ll just rest it for a bit and see how it feels. I didn’t ice it (mistake 2) nor did I do any after running stretching (mistake 3), I just took a shower and tried to stay off it.
Running after Peroneal Tendonitis – The Early Attempts at Recovery
When the pain faded but still stuck around after resting for a day I knew I had actually hurt myself to some degree. But! I thought it was just a pulled muscle or a sprain. There was no swelling, no bruising and no sharp pains. Just a dull ache on the outer edge of my foot when I stepped on it. Probably nothing serious I’ll just take some reluctant time off running and it will probably go away.
Rest seemed to help, over the next few days the ache lessened a good bit. But it never entirely went away. I resolved to not run until it did. I took two weeks off running, increasingly panicking because the St. Jude Race was coming up and I was quickly running out of time to prepare.
Two weeks of rest would give me three weeks to prepare. Sufficient but not optimal. By the end of two weeks, I was thoroughly frustrated with my foot. One day it wouldn’t hurt and the next it would flare up again. Rest didn’t seem to be making a difference to the lingering ache.
Putting my Finger on the Problem
By this time I had figured out what was wrong. Peroneal Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons which run from your calf muscles to the lower edge of your foot. Although my pain was mostly on the edge of my foot there was some tenderness behind the ankle and I was negative for the myriad of other tests that would have pointed to another problem. It wasn’t a stress fracture or a dislocated cuboid bone.
A great amount of research was done (If you are capable of going to a Doctor this is obviously preferable and wiser! I fully encourage you to do so! But for many reasons that’s not always an option and such was the case for me.) Piecing together all the information I could find I came up with a plan.
Peroneal Tendonitis is considered an overuse injury. I pretty much trained myself into injury even though I felt fine right up until those last two runs. BUT! there are other causes as well – tight calf muscles along with weak ankle and core strength all play their part. I had admittedly been neglecting to stretch or do any sort of strength training. Many people also reported that changing shoes helped. I loved my Charge Bandits (still do and I still think they are marvelous shoes) but perhaps with my increased mileage and progressing form I needed something different.
Running after Peroneal Tendonitis – More Serious Attempts
Putting all my research to use I started getting serious about fixing this problem. It wasn’t easy! Having a lingering injury that refused to respond or fully heal using the typical remedies took a serious toll on my mental fortitude. I was distressed because I couldn’t run, worried about making things worse and completely frustrated by the ghost-like here one day, gone the next tendencies of my pain.
I basically had to hit rock bottom and be in the midst of ‘am I ever going to get better?’ despair before I decided to really be proactive. Clearly, my lackadaisy rest/ice routine wasn’t going to work.
I started by stretching before I ran. I looked up and followed stretch’s specifically designed for Peroneal tendonitis and did them 2 -3 times a day and before and after every run. Even now, two weeks after the pain disappeared for good I still do them before and after a run!
Following the typical advice for soft tissue injuries (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) I ordered and started wearing some toeless compression socks during the day (Ideally you should also sleep in them but they drove me nuts while sleeping so I did not). This did seem to help some with the ache.
A New Mindset
I started running again but I was very careful about it. Yes, my foot ached when I ran. It didn’t seem to matter if it hurt when I started or it was on a day my foot felt fine. No matter what, at the beginning stages of this, my foot ached when I was finished. I severely cut back my mileage, I made sure there was at least one day of rest between every run.
I went out on each of these runs with the mindset that I was not training, I was going to go easy and slow and just until the point where my foot went from dull ache to slight ache. I never pushed beyond that no matter what distance it happened. Somedays I could do a mile or only a half mile. Sometimes it was two. It was hard, it felt like running after peroneal tendonitis was slowly washing away all my hard work and I was back at the beginning again.
I started out icing my foot after every run. I started out using an ice pack but it never felt like it did all that much so I progressed to a full on ice bath for my foot. Ice baths are not fun. Much cussing was involved the first few times I put my foot in the water but I got used to it. Most importantly it seemed to cut down on the time it took for the ache to vanish between runs. Now it only hurt for a couple of hours afterward rather than the whole day,
Okay, so I was making strides. My foot wasn’t getting any worse and while initially, it seemed to be responding well things stalled out and it wasn’t getting any better either. Clearly, something else had to change. I started incorporating ankle and foot exercises to my workout routines. I knew this would take some time to really make a difference but I made up my mind to keep at them.
There are numerous opinions about the usefulness of KT tape but I was at the point where I was willing to try anything. I looked up taping methods for running after peroneal tendonitis and after some trial and error managed to do it properly. PS – don’t buy cheap KT tape, I know it’s expensive to get the good stuff but it’s worth it when it doesn’t come off almost as soon as you put it on or roll up under your sock.
I started wearing the KT Tape with the toeless compression sock overtop and a running sock over top of that everytime I went running. There was a lessening of the ache and I was able to go further before it increased. Great! I was able to complete the St Jude race at this point but my time was far off what I originally hoped thanks to my severely cut back training.
But it still wasn’t right. There was still that nagging ache in my foot which refused to go away no matter what I did or didn’t do. I love running but I didn’t want to run in pain forever! My beloved Charge Bandit 2’s were nearing the end of their lifecycle anyways -at nearly 400 miles. I knew it was inevitable that new shoes were in my future.
But the ultimate question was which ones? I did some more research. I specifically looked for shoes other runners stated helped with running after peroneal tendonitis. Although the general consensus was that the absolute best option would be to get gait tested and fitted at a running store that wasn’t really an option for me! For one gait testing is expensive – upwards of $150 dollars and we are only a couple of months away from Christmas! For another, there’s no place to get it done in our area even if I DID manage to scrounge up the money.
There was one model that continuously got brought up, however – The Brooks Glycerin.
I was intrigued enough to check out their website. I have never tried a Brooks product but I was willing to look into them! On their site, Brooks has a tool called ‘Shoe Finder‘. It promises to find the best shoes for our feet and workouts. I was dubious – I mean I have done a few of these before and the questions they asked were very vague and didn’t seem very specific. It was typically the equivalent of being told you needed shoes for the trail running or shoes for road running which you probably already know!
But I figured why not?
This tool turned out to be far more in depth then I figured it would be. Not only did it ask me questions about my typical running conditions and my overall training goals but it had me do several, walking, standing and pacing tests with multiple available answers.
It even asked me about previous or current injuries. It made me think about more than just the basics of do you run on cement or grass. But took into account the way my body stepped, moved and even balanced on one foot.
And then it surprised me even MORE by pairing me up with the EXACT same shoe my previous research had made me curious about. The Brooks Glycerin 16. This shoe fits all the parameters that my research said I needed after running with peroneal tendonitis and this crazy internet tool had zeroed in on it too! I was amazed! Of course, I emailed Brooks and explained both my predicament and my amazement over this tool and my desire as a blogger to spread the word about this tool if the recommendation panned out. They sent me a pair of shoes to test.
Running after Peroneal Tendonitis – The Final Piece
Of course, I was elated to receive brand new running shoes. Who wouldn’t be? But all I really wanted was for the nagging on again off again pain in my foot to vanish. I wanted to run again without constantly stressing over my foot and mentally checking it every step. Is it hurting? Is it getting worse? Should I stop or keep going? It was mentally exhausting and really sucking the joy out of something I loved.
All the steps I had taken up to this point were improving my foot but running after peroneal tendonitis was proving to be a pain. Literally. The strength training was finally taking hold and my routine of stretching, rolling, taping, icing and using rest days kept most of the aches at bay. But it was never really 100% and it always felt like I had to baby it along on the verge of another flare up.
But here I was with a new pair of shoes. I continued all my previous steps and took them for a few runs. The first one was short and there wasn’t so much as a twinge from my foot. It had been handling short runs pretty well lately however so I wasn’t going to take that at face value. It was the long and speed runs that always brought things on the worst.
I used my old shoes for that week’s speed run because I didn’t want to transition to the new ones too quickly and the aches returned as I had come to expect. At that point, I said to heck with it and used my new shoes on my next run which was scheduled to be a long run.
No pain – and I went farther than I ever had before. After my run, there was a slight bit of cramping (after the ice bath) in the tendon that I got rid of with some stretching. The cramping after the run and ice bath continued for a few runs and then vanished. My last couple of runs, long, short and speed have been completely pain-free. But I expect I would still be dealing with that nagging off and on again ache without the suggestions of my fellow runners and the Brooks Shoe Finder Tool.
Running after Peroneal Tendonitis – The Conclusion
In the end, I don’t believe that any one piece of this puzzle was the magic one that got me back to running after peroneal tendonitis. All of them had to come together to make this recovery possible. I had to strengthen my feet, ankles, and core. I had to get more serious with my stretching and rolling to prevent the tight calf muscles and I had to find shoes that matched the way I ran.
Running after peroneal tendonitis has changed the way I view my training. I still roll, stretch and perform my strength exercises on a daily basis. But its no longer to reduce pain as to make sure it never comes back again. I am going farther and faster than I ever have before and yet – even in that, I am very careful not to push myself too far, too fast. I have started to wean my foot off the compression toe socks, and KT tape and I only ice it after long or strenuous runs. I expect that I will be able to stop the Ice baths soon as well -they are more precautionary then to treat anything because I have developed a paranoia about it coming back!
It’s so wonderful to run again without worry. I was able to fully enjoy a trail run with my husband and have recorded my fasted 5k to date on a training run. The injury could have been avoided and there’s no doubt that I brought it on myself but I have come out stronger then I was before and I learned a lot in the process. I can’t say I’m happy it happened… But I am happy for what it taught me and how I came out of it all.