The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

I was told by a podiatrist that I had plantar fasciitis nearly three years ago. I brought it on myself by trying to take up running and using shoes without enough cushioning. To treat it, I was advised to wear these big, bulky splints on my feet at night. I tried to comply, but they kept me from getting a decent night’s sleep, so I abandoned them within a matter of weeks.

While the right foot is better except for some mild stiffness first thing in the morning or after a lot of walking, the left foot has developed a sore spot that has a constant dull, ache. I’ve felt that my left ankle is weaker and the connective tissue that runs up the sides of my ankle (are those muscles or tendons?) feels sore after a lot of exertion, too.

When I was riding last week in a particularly tricky maneuver to better develop my balance — going over the trot poles while in a posting trot — my left ankle rolled in the stirrup. Not enough to hurt, but enough to worry me. (Yeah, I need to write another post about horses and riding soon.)

So I took the plunge and made an appointment with a different doctor. This one’s speciality is sports medicine. I felt that may be a better fit because I want to get better so I can more comfortably do activities like hiking, walking, and riding.

First the doc looked at some x-rays taken when I arrived at her office. Sure enough, I have a bone spur that has formed due to all the stiff tissues on the bottom of that foot. (That’s the sore spot.) Then the doc examined my foot. “Oh dear,” she said, “How are you walking on this?” Well, the thing is I’m *not* walking as much as I’d like, although I am able to manage normal daily activity. I also did a pretty strenuous hike earlier this month on a mini-vacation with my friend Rachael to San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. (Yeah, I should write about that, too.) By the end of this hike up and down Bishop’s Peak, my left foot was throbbing. When we got back to our accommodations, I rolled a cold can of soda water under it for a bit to ease some of the inflammation. And then I pretty much limited the rest of my walking for the day.

I started physical therapy yesterday, and I’m determined to have this foot and ankle much better by October when I leave for a trip to Scotland. That trip will involve a lot of walking, hiking, and riding, so I need the foot in much better shape.

In the meantime, I have stretches and strengthening exercises to do a few times a day on my own. The exercises are painful, but they are supposed to strengthen the weak ankle and calf muscles on my left leg. The physical therapist told me that my left ankle joint had less mobility than my right, although my left hip was stronger than my right hip, possibly as compensation. This must be why my riding instructors have noticed that I “slump” to one side in the saddle at times, and perhaps my why balance is often so difficult for me to find while riding.

There aren’t any activity restrictions for me at this time, but riding today was pretty tough. My left ankle was sore from the therapy yesterday and the exercises I performed this morning.

Oh, well. We can bitch about life all we want, but look at the alternative! So, here I sit rolling a bottle of frozen water under my foot and dreaming about a day when I can walk a few miles through the heather and canter along the green hills of Scotland.