The torture rack
OK, now THAT was a workout.
I just got back from my first visit to the physical therapist.
Yes, I finally decided to seek professional help for my lousy iliotibial band, after 10 months of stretching, icing, resting, praying, hoping, meditating and sending positive thoughts to the Greek god of distance running.
Nothing I had tried on my own had really cured the problem.
So like an alcoholic who finally realizes he needs to turn a greater power, I put myself in the hands of a nice man named Mike and his student assistant, a happy, upbeat, very fit young woman named Casey.
They listened to my sad story, about how I only wanted one thing in this life: to return to the trails with mud under my shoes and wind in my hair. Then they got down to business.
They pulled and stretched and pushed and prodded. Every 30 seconds or so, one of them would say to the other: “Oh, that muscle is really tight.”
For an hour, they ran me through drills for all kinds of stuff. Strength. Flexibility. Range of motion. They stretched muscles until I winced and pleaded for a bullet to jam between my teeth.
Mike, the experienced guy, kept asking Casey anatomy questions as they studied my legs.
Mike: “What other muscles are connected to the IT band?”
Casey: “The tibia fibula flux capacitor Carmen Miranda.” Or at least that’s how it sounded to me.
Then they gave me the diagnosis: Tight quads. Tight hamstrings. Tight calves. Tight piriformis. (A “tush muscle,” Casey explained).
Apparently, all these things attach to each other or to IT band. And they all needed to be loosened up.
So Casey rubbed white cream, called hydrocortisone topical, on my right thigh. They she ran an ultrasound wand over it. She said it would help decrease inflammation.
Then Mike got brutal and started kneading my thigh with his hand and a series of metal tools. One of them looked like a big, flat butcher knife. The other looked like a car axle. He rubbed and pressed and scraped. After a few minutes, my skin started to turn red. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned purple by tomorrow.
Finally, Casey guided me through a series of stretches that I need to do twice a day. Then she plopped a bag of ice on my leg for 10 minutes.
They said they want me to come back twice a week for a month.
“But will I ever run I again?” I asked, hope against hope, with tears in my eyes.
“Oh, this looks very treatable,” Mike said. “Don’t worry about it.”
OK, you heard it. To me, that sounded like permission to register for a fall marathon.
Boston, you bitch, I’m coming after you.