Heel Spurs: Learn From My Fail!

Heel spurs suck. In my case, the pain is actually from plantar fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis. The spurs are small bony growths where all these tendons attach to my heal bone. The spurs irritate the tendons, the tendons tighten, causing the spurs to grow, irritating the tendons more...

 My heel

My heel

I put off dealing with this for nearly three years. It took a very slow and painful Tahoe Rim Trail 100 finish to get me to really take this seriously. Over the years I had gotten used to running with some amount of pain and at a slower pace. I jokingly called it "getting older". TRT took everything to a new level.

As it turns out, my heel spurs were also aggravating a groin pull that just wouldn't heal (no pun intended) completely. My doctor described my stride as "pogoing" off the good foot, putting an awkward strain on my hips and groin muscles. Anyway, by the time I lined up for this years running of the SF New Years Eve 24 Hour Run I had already seen a doctor with the intention of scheduling surgery. That run was a disaster, I dropped out after about 30 miles.

 The shockwave therapy machine, the part that actually does the shocking looks like a microphone

The shockwave therapy machine, the part that actually does the shocking looks like a microphone

I was eventually referred to a podiatrist in Stanford's sports medicine department. He recommended Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy. I had a few treatments. They ranged from not bad to fairly painful. It's non-invasive and the recovery time after each session is pretty short.

Did it work? I'm honestly not sure. I never felt "instantly cured" as some claim. I am definitely much better. While undergoing the treatment, I stopped running and increased my cycling and weight lifting. What you might call "active rest". I roll out my calf muscles and my heel a few times a day. I use a frozen water bottle as the roller. I'm not sure which percent of what thing has contributed to my recovery.

 My recovery cocktails 

My recovery cocktails 

Ultra running takes up a lot of time. Time I had to fill with something. I chose mixed drinks. Even slightly buzzed the truth is pretty obvious. Putting off dealing with this injury cost me a few years of quality running and a few months of recovery time. Learn from my fail: When you hurt, go to the doctor.