Monday, February 8, 2010

Recovery: Week 2 day 1

Since I misbehaved on Saturday and my piriformis won't make peace with me, I decided to make up by keeping today's workout sober. It was lower body strengthening day in any case, so all I had to do was keep the running in check.

Here how the session went:

Treadmill: 20 minutes walk/run (14 minutes run)

Free squats: 2x15
Standing lunges: 2x15
Seated leg press: 2x15
Calf press: 2x15
Seated calf press: 2x15

Leg curls: 5 reps > crazy sciatic pain > abandon
Toe raisers: 3x15
Leg raises on decline: 3x15
Glutes on machine: 2x15
Hip adductor/abductor: 2x15

Stretch routine with some yoga asanas sprinked in.

Tomorrow is cardio day and I promise not to be silly.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recovery: Week 1

Since I started with the physical therapy sessions, I’ve gone from being an injured couch potato for 2 months to kick-starting a workout schedule at the gym, including cross-training, dreadmill walking (yeah yeah), and a weight training regimen specially planned keeping in mind the piriformis.

In spite of the torture of starting afresh, I have to admit that getting back into an exercise regime has been the best thing ever! I don’t feel so useless (and hopeless) anymore. Nevertheless, learning to walk before running has been hard and over the last couple of days, I managed to hit both extremes of the emotional barometer.

A few days into dreadmill walking got me wired up and since there was no discernable pain, I cranked up the speed to a fast walk just short of breaking into a jog. The next day, I jogged for 10 minutes. Of course, I could still feel a slight pinch at the back of my thigh, but it was a far cry from the excruciating hurt I had felt for the past few months. So far, so good. On day three, jog turns into a run. Slow and on the dreadmill, but a run nevertheless! And 30 minutes too. How cool is that!

And now, here's the part where reckless enthusiasm gets in the way of caution and sound logic. If 30, then why not 45? I think there’s a very good explanation for why not. But no, stupid me had to give it a shot. Of course I finished the run and of course the piriformis revolted. So I’m back on the couch for today, in pain but wiser.

Note for the future: When injured, curb the enthusiasm!

The search is over

A B.I.G. announcement is in order: After much consternation and failed medication trials (thanks to the uncertainty of the ortho), I unraveled the "dead leg" mystery. Acute piriformis syndrome. Phew!

So it’s been a combination of various treatments for the last two weeks. I’m still on the medication prescribed by the fancy neurosurgeon and I have to say it has helped reduce the pain dramatically. But this time round, I’m also working with a super cool physical therapist (it was she who first suggested the piriformis syndrome) to include:

Interferential Therapy
This uses electrical stimulation for pain relief, muscle stimulation, increased local blood flow, and reduction of oedema. My therapist straps on electrodes along the pain path down my leg and shoots electric impulses over 20 minutes, increasing the voltage every 2-3 minutes, as the muscles get used to the stimulation. It tingles and can feel a little weird when a muscle twitches, but leaves you with a deep-tissue massage after-feeling. Fabulous!

Short Wave Diathermy
SWD is a high frequency alternating current that produces heat for deep tissue heat treatment. So, I sit my ass cheeks (targeting the piriformis muscle) on 2 heated pads and lay like that for about 10 minutes. This feels so damn good; I’ve snoozed off on more than one occasion!

Stretch Routine
A set of stretches that specifically target the piriformis and other surrounding muscles, and the spine. I hold the stretches for 10 counts and do 5 reps of each. This is something I’ve been advised to weave into my everyday post-workout routine.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks and I’m happy to report that it’s all paying off! The pain is diminishing and I’m finally on a slow but sure recovery path. Can I just say "woohoo"? Woohoo!