Medical Check-Up

I had the chance to meet my orthopedic doctor when I requested a Medical Team and Ambulance for the conduct of the latest Tagaytay To Nasugbu 50K Ultra Run on the first week of December 2013, last month. I asked him to make an schedule of an appointment for medical check-up on my knees after my participation in the 3rd Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run and after taking a break/leave from running during the Holiday Season. The doctor readily told me that I could see him either on the last day of the year (december 31) or on New Year’s Day.

Fast forward. After the TD 100 where I DNFd at Km 110, I have observed that there was swelling on the upper part of my right knee and felt some pain after I did a recovery hike and run for about two hours two days after the TD 100. It was a good reason to really force myself to go on a rest period on the following weeks & days before my appointment to my orthopedic doctor. So, from December 17 to December 31, I had only two “outings” on the trails which are mostly hiking in nature. But the swelling and pain were still there until before I finally met my doctor.

On the afternoon of December 31st, I went to my orthopedic doctor to have my knees for medical check-up. My meeting had also served as my maintenance check on the results of my bi-monthly rehabilitation on my injured knees on the early part of last year (2013). The doctor immediately made an ocular check on swelling part of my right knee and he recommended me to have my knees to be x-rayed.

I could say that one of the most important benefits of being a retired military officer and a Major General at that, is that I have lifetime free medical service from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Philippine Army’s Hospital & Medical Center has all the services and facilities that I need to support my passion in running. With a written slip/order from the doctor, I was brought to the Radiology Department and in 10-15 minutes, my X-Ray was done and the films were developed for the immediate analysis of my orthopedic doctor. Very fast and efficient as there was only ONE soldier-medical technician who did all the works.

The doctor analyzed and read the films as he flashed the films on a lighted monitor. The following are the findings:

Left Knee: It is healthy, normal, and strong with minimal “spurs”.

Right Knee (Swelling One): There are “pointed spurs” which are causing the pain inside my knee and these “spurs” should be flattened immediately.

X-Ray Of My Right Knee
X-Ray Of My Right Knee

The doctor asked me if I have a stationary bike and I said, yes! He advised me to immediately include a stationary bike workout, at least, 30 minutes every day without any force or weight that would make my leg muscles exert any effort. He said that my legs should be made to move on a circular motion in order to maximize the full movement of my knees. It is due to my running, in quick and small strides, that the full motion of knees were restricted. He made a personal guarantee that the “pointed spurs” will be removed, if not, flattened, if I will do my stationary biking regularly.

On the night after I left the hospital, I was able to manage a 20-minute stationary cycling without any force but I have to cut short with my workout due to my butt being in pain as I am no longer used to using my bike.

Stationary Cycling Without Any Force/Weight
Stationary Cycling Without Any Force/Weight

After 4 sessions of 30-minute stationary cycling, I was surprised that the swelling had greatly reduced and I could no longer feel any pain on my right knee.

The doctor’s advise is very good and my orthopedic doctor is the best doctor that I really admire! He deserves to have that wine which I gave him as a present for the Holiday Season.

This is a testimony that any runner, old or young, marathoner or ultra marathoner, needs to have a medical check-up to his/her knees and be able to expose themselves in cross training. As I am getting older and my the full range of motion of my body parts are being shortened and restricted, there is a need to do other forms of exercise which will serve as “cross training” to one’s main sports.

So, lace up, get out of the door and run!

Finding The Cure

1. Simply Rest—This is the first thing that I did after the PIM Pasig River Marathon.  For one week, I ate foods rich in carbohydrates and protein, drink a lot of water, and had full-time 8-hour sleep during nighttime. I tried to walk slowly with a limp around the house. It was a painful experience walking for the first week after the race.

2. Massage—Coach Salazar’s deep-tissue massage was finally introduced to my affected muscle on the 2nd week. I think I had 2-3 sessions with him for the duration of 3 weeks. My stiff Peroneus muscles slowly loosened up but there was still some inflammation and pain to other muscle strands located in between the peroneus and calf muscle. Coach Salazar taught me how to stretch my Peroneus muscles.

3. “Water Treatment”—My regular weekly visits to the Laguna Hot Spring in Calamba, Laguna had greatly improved and maintained my endurance level of fitness without much pounding on my legs. During these visits and immersion in the hot sulphuric water for a maximum of 6-7 hours, I did “water jogging”, leg kicking, leg flipping, and then later, swimming. I’ve been to this place for four times already and my stay here were fruitful as I came to meet more people and get more “insights” from the different sectors of the society.

4. Pain Reliever, Ointment & More Protein Drinks—On the third week, I started to take Alaxan FR before going to bed. Charlie Chua, one of the BR Runners with the Professional Group, suggested an ointment, Fastum Gel (Ketoprofen), for inflammed muscles which I’ve been using for the past two weeks. I also maintained drinking milk, Ensure and MILO’s 3-in1 For Adults (2x a day). All of these contributed to my recovery.

5. Join Road Races as Photographer & Cheerer—Watching the runners at the Start and Finish Lines during Road Races and taking their pictures while cheering them gave me the feeling and urge to recover immediately. I believe that positive thinking has a lot to do when someone needs to recover at a faster rate from any setback.

6. “Brisk” Walking & “Slow” Jogging—Last Thursday, I forced myself to an 8.5-Km distance “brisk” walking and jogging even if I felt pain on my affected leg. I was able to finish the distance in almost 1 1/2 hours. My workout was done in the mountains, 70 kilometers east of Metro Manila!

7. Deep-Tissue Massage (More Deliberate)—Aside from Coach Salazar, I have another staff who had been trained as “masseur” by the members of my Elite Team. He gave me a 1 1/2-hour massage after my 8.5-Km workout and I was crying and shouting in pain. The inflammation of my Peroneus muscle had gone but there is a tiny strand of muscle beneath the Peroneus muscle which needs to be loosened and my staff just patiently did the right thing. After an overnight sleep, the pain on my left lower leg is entirely gone!

8. Rest Some More & Start With a Training Plan—My injury is a blessing in disguise as I was able to rest from the grinds of training and joining in the past marathon & half-marathon races. However, I need more time to rest and do strengthening exercises through Pilates, Yoga, and Weight Training before finally hitting the road, track and trails. I will start a training plan for a 100-Mile Run soon!