In my last post, I talked about how I was getting back into hiking, and everything was hunky-dory. For the first time in about a decade, I took the week between Christmas and New Years off. I excitedly texted friends about skiing and hiking opportunities for the 10 whole days I was off. Hooray!
Winter Snowtice Re-Injury
The morning of the winter solstice, I saw my physical therapist and asked about running. She said “let’s see how cross-country skiing goes.” There should have been some foreboding music playing when she spoke.
It snowed for a couple of hours that evening. We took our dog for a walk, marveling at the size of the flakes and delighting in seeing houses lit up for Christmas in the snow. It was magical.
Then the snow turned to rain, I stepped awkwardly, and felt excruciating pain in the inside of my right thigh/knee. Oh no. Had I reinjured my MCL? Giving away my compression sleeve was bad luck, I decided. I limped home and iced my leg.
The next morning, it seemed like the pain was more in my thigh than in my knee. I taped my inner thigh with the help of a YouTube video, and limped along with the morning dog walk.
But after a few days of icing, rolling, and easy dog walks, my inner thigh started to feel better and I felt ready to go skiing.
Maybe 5 hours of cross-country skiing is a lot now?
Cross-country skiing is perhaps my favorite non-mountaineering activity. There’s nothing quite like sliding rhythmically through a snow-covered forest. So I was excited to finally get out there a few days after Christmas.
A friend and I skied at a Nordic center in the mountains. We mostly stuck to flat/slightly uphill stuff, and then went off and did explored some trails in the hills that had creeks running across them. There was a lot of stopping to take skis off, cross the creek, and then put them back on, with bindings icing up. Good times. But, fun. One of the reasons I stick to classic skiing is the ability to explore ungroomed trails. It puts a smile on my face like nothing else.
My Achilles hurt a little at the beginning, but the pain dissipated after the first half hour or so. My knee hurt more in the hilly stuff, but I had my compression sleeve and felt OK despite multiple falls in one bumpy section (that’s where some grooming would have been nice). I was surprised to see at the end of the day that we had skied for 5 hours, over 11 miles and 1200 feet of elevation gain. Not bad for my first time out!
Doctor Says I’m Doing Well!
The next day, I went to my doctor, who said that the Achilles seemed to be healing nicely. He also thought that my inner thigh seemed to be my gracilis muscle, but it seemed to be healing on its own.
I then saw my massage therapist, who helped loosen up my hips after skiing. All ready for another day of skiing!
Apparently Skiing Uphill is Harder Than Walking
For Day 2 of skiing, we ski toured some side country.
I was on my touring skis and my friend on her splitboard. The gain was only about 1000 feet, but one part near the beginning is straight up. We kick-turned our way up and worked our way to where the slope flattened out.
I don’t remember my Achilles hurting during the ski tour, but it hurt afterwards. And the next day. And the day after that. But I had hiking plans on New Years day, so…
Probably shouldn’t have gone hiking too
I planned an easy hike with an old friend on New Years day in the Mt Rainier area. It ended up being about 1500 feet of elevation gain and 5 miles. I knew that it was probably a bad idea, but during Covid how else am I going to hang out with my friends?
We did a loop going up the gradual side and down the steeper side. I’m not sure if the hike made it worse or just prevented it from healing. My left IT band was also sore on the descent, so all the old injuries were coming out of the woodwork, I guess.
“I can’t guarantee you’ll come back from this”
Those are the words my physical therapist said to me after my week “off.” She also said that my Achilles post-PRP was not normal tissue, that if it hurts while I’m exercising I need to stop immediately, and that when it feels good is also a time to not push it too much and let it heal. So, basically, don’t do stuff.
My Achilles feels like it did only a couple of weeks after PRP. I’m kind of mad at myself for pushing too hard, too fast. But nothing I did seemed that hard. These were all “easy” activities in my book. I told my PT I need rules.
My PT’s rules are:
- you can ski flat stuff, if it doesn’t hurt.
- Hiking will be easier than skiing.
- If it hurts, you have to stop.
The current state of things
So there we are. The weekend after being told that I may have irrevocably F’d up my Achilles, I (mostly) stayed home, with the exception of taking my dog to a Sniffspot to walk around a frozen swamp. Maybe even that was too much, because both my Achilles and knee hurt. 🙁 I also rode my bike and lifted weights. 14 second crossed-ankle L sit, yay!
Note: Now this blog is caught up, and I will be posting in real time, instead of posting about things that happened weeks or months ago!