I started running 20 years ago and have not stopped since. One reason I have not stopped is because I have never been injured from running, aside from general soreness or an occasional minor strain in my Achilles tendon.
Well, it finally caught up to me. In early March, I doubled my weekly mileage while attempting to accelerate my marathon training. I woke up the next day after an intense workout and I could barely walk. After a few weeks of rest (and complaining), I still wasn’t able to run… and it was bringing me down.
Working at Hendricks Regional Health, I knew that we have an outstanding Physical Therapy program, but I didn’t know if they would be much help because I assumed they would mostly tell me to rest and ice. However, I was familiar with another HRH patient success story about his Achilles tendon injury from running. With the ability to self-refer, I figured I would give it a shot.
To get an appointment scheduled, I simply called the Danville practice. The appointment was scheduled within 48 hours. They emailed me a short, online questionnaire regarding my injury to submit prior to the appointment.
I recently completed my first-ever physical therapy session. My appointment was at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville and it lasted about one hour. Shortly after checking in with the receptionist, I met my physical therapist, Nate Austin. Nate was very friendly and easy to talk with. Because of the online questionnaire that I had completed prior to the appointment, Nate already had a good idea about my injury. He made sure I was comfortable and then began his evaluation by checking my flexibility and seeking pain points around my left Achilles tendon. Nate was very gentle and attentive so I experienced very little pain.
My overall goal with PT is not only to safely return to running as quickly as possible, but also to prevent this injury from reoccurring in order to maintain my active lifestyle. To help with the healing portion, Nate introduced me to a specialized rehabilitation approach called Augmented Soft Tissue Manipulation (ASTYM). Nate used some hard plastic instruments to place pressure along my left calf and ankle. Nate explained that this treatment works by targeting the scarring or inflammation of those soft tissue areas to help the body heal faster. I asked if I could do this on my own later and he said that only certified therapists can perform this task because the muscles must be performed in a certain order.
There was some slight discomfort but overall I actually enjoyed this process because I could instantly feel the results. I think I even said out loud, “This is the best my Achilles has felt over the past few weeks, if not ever.”
Eagerly, I then asked if I could start running again this weekend. Nate chuckled and told me I need to wait about a week before easing back into it. He emphasized the easing part.
As for preventing this injury in the future, Nate prescribed to me personalized exercise program to increase flexibility and to strengthen my Achilles tendon. There were only four different exercises that require less than 15 minutes each day. He showed me how to do each exercise and then printed a sheet with detailed instructions and images so that I would have no excuse to not practice them.
Nate did inform me that as a self-referral, he could only treat me for the next 24 calendar days and if I need further evaluation I would then need a physician referral. Fortunately for me, I should only need four to six appointments. I went ahead and scheduled another appointment with Nate for this Friday and an additional two for next week.
As I write out this blog, I am very excited about the possibility to start running again in about one week with Nate’s help.
I started off skeptical, but now I am excited for my second physical therapy session this Friday. It feels good knowing that I don’t have to be a victim to this injury. Having a plan and a new coach in Nate gives me a great sense of confidence and empowerment to get back to doing what I love sooner rather than later.
Adam Scott is the Business and Community Relations Manager at Hendricks Regional Health. He is also an avid runner and serves as the Vice President of the Carmel Runners Club.