My lower leg is recovering much faster than expected since my injury the other day. I got the x-ray results back and they were negative. This doesn’t prove I don’t have a stress fracture because they don’t always show up on x-rays. But my recovery has been very fast so far which makes me suspect it is not a stress fracture. My GP agrees but is referring me to a specialist for a follow-up next Thursday.
It helps that I was curious the day of the injury about how impaired the weight-bearing was in the leg. Normally if you’re standing on one leg you’re taking 100% of your body weight on that leg, and this naturally occurs during a normal walking gait. I knew it hurt to walk without a walker or cane for support and was curious how much weight the leg could take, pain-free. Time for a sophisticated science experiment. I got out my bathroom scale and stood on it with the injured leg, while supporting myself with hands pushing down on the counter. I relaxed the support so more weight went on the leg, looked at the scale, and noted when it started to hurt. On the first day, this was 110 pounds, which is 61% of my current body weight of 180. I’m glad I thought to do that because I’ve repeated the test on subsequent days, and it has rapidly gone up. By today I can support more than my body weight on the leg pain-free. I pulled up on the counter to increase the load, and it was not painful until 235 pounds, which is about 133% of my body weight.
This means in theory I could start walking normally, but I’m not sure I should do that while still healing, so I’m still using a cane. The issue is confused by the fact that this is the same leg I injured at the hip a couple of years ago, aggravating the piriformis muscle. This injury never went 100% away, but I control it with some PT exercises and by spinning on my indoor recumbent to loosen it up. When it flares up, the “piriformis syndrome” causes sciatic pain to radiate down the leg, which is hard to distinguish from the pain of the injury. I noticed I was in quite a bit of pain on Thursday in the lower leg but not at the spot it hurt where I injured it. I suspected that was coming from the piriformis, so I did some really easy spinning on the recumbent and it felt much better. I’ve kept that up and also restarted my piriformis PT exercises. I think the spinning, which is only lightly loading the lower leg but increases blood flow, also helps with healing. I even went for a 30-minute ride on my recumbent pain-free this morning (it helps that I have electric assist, I can just use as much assistance as needed to keep the pedal pressure low enough).
I’m curious about what the injury is if not a stress fracture, I guess some sort of soft tissue like a ligament strain (the pain is in the anterior shin splint area). I’ll know more on Thursday when I see the specialist, but it appears I may be looking at a much shorter rehab than I originally thought. That’s great for my state of mind. Being able to do at least 30 minutes of easy biking or walking a day is very relaxing for me. I’m already there on the recumbent, and I hope to get back there quickly for walking and standing up to pedal.
I’ve noticed that before with setbacks like these. When I’m 100% healthy, I always tend to push harder or longer because it’s fun for me (and I think my “inner athlete” still thinks it’s a teenager). But when I’m rehabbing from injury or surgery, I long for the day when I can just get back to nice easy relaxing workouts. There’s a lesson there somewhere.