Last spring I was training hard for my summer Scotland trip. Having done two previous trips to Scotland for a week plus of 36 holes per day, I knew I needed to be in good walking shape. My home course is quite hilly and provided a great challenge to get in walking shape.
I overdid it.
A few weeks before Scotland, after pushing myself quite hard, I started to have pain in the arches and heels of my feet. Eventually the pain was so bad I could hardly walk. The training, combined with testing out new shoes which had very poor arch support resulted in plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. If prolonged and untreated the condition can worsen and turn into other problems in the foot and other areas like the back.
In mornings and after prolonged times sitting writing incredible blog posts at the computer, the first few steps were quite painful. It was very painful getting to the finish of my swing. The right foot would nearly buckle since the arch and heel were so inflamed.
To prevent the issue from worsening and to help it heal, I had to stop the problem: walking a lot on shoes with crappy arch support. I bought a set of inserts for my shoes at a running store which “ran” about $40. The arches were very different. The bottom was very hard. The arch was very high compared to what I was used to. It took some getting used to. Since last summer, any pair of shoes I wore, street or golf, I’ve used those supports. Those inserts helped me start to heal a bit before Scotland, and helped me survive the walking I did there, a total of 125 MILES. Despite walking 125 miles, the inflammation subsided and I did not make the injury worse.
After a year of dealing with with this situation, I know much more about arch support and shoe design. And about a year later I can gladly say that since adding the inserts to my shoes the problem has completely gone away.
Early this season I was approached by Aline to test out shoe inserts designed for golf. I eagerly accepted and shortly after put the Aline inserts into action. I first wore them in my street shoes, to work and around town, just to get used to them. I’ve grown so accustomed to the comfort and feel of the Alines in my regular shoes that I feel like I can’t wear any shoes without them.
For the past few weeks I’ve now graduated to putting those old running inserts in the garage and using the Alines 100% of the time for my street shoes and golf shoes. They provide great support in the perfect places, and they’re not as hard and uncomfortable as the running store inserts. My feet aren’t as fatigued and achy as now and of course, there are no issues with the arches or heels in my feet.
I’ve just realized something else as well. This could be related to the fact that we are in the high heat of summer, but my back does not ache after golf rounds. While reading up on Aline’s inserts I happened across some information that says the inserts will help with spine alignment and help prevent back pain. Whether it’s the heat or the inserts, or both, I’m thrilled about it.
ALINE patented technology optimizes a golfer’s performance by properly aligning the back, hips, knees and ankle. This helps reduce lower body fatigue and improves swing mechanics, resulting in maximization of ground force reaction for more distance and accuracy. Proven by 10 Professional wins, Olympic Gold Medals, over 100 X Games medals and doctors across the country, ALINEs are designed for performance in sports and life. ALINE makes similar equipment for Skiing, Snowboarding, Hiking, Cycling, Gym Workouts, Running, Walking and General Fitness activities. ALINE…what’s inside counts.
At this point I’m not going to take my Aline’s out of any of my shoes. In fact, I need to get more units so I’m not constantly moving the one pair I have from street to street to golf to street. I’m walking more with less fatigue and feeling no pain in my feet or back. If the inserts could help with my chipping…. one can dream.
“Back” is a 4-letter-word in my house. It is usually followed up with another 4-letter-word, “pain.” To help combat those to bad words, I’ve started testing out a very simple product, the 10 Minute Cushion.
The concept is simple. Too often and too long we (I say “we,” as in humans) slouch, sit, hunch over our computers etc. All that time the vertebrae in our back is compressing. That compression puts pressure on the nerves around our spine, which can lead to serious problems. Trust me on that. I have plenty of first hand experience.
The 10 Minute Cushion is designed to help counteract that compression and help us flex and bend the opposite direction of the slouch. It helps separate the vertebrae and gets healing fluids moving between them, which reduces swelling, inflammation and pain.
I’m in the initial testing stages now and I’ve really felt a benefit. After a few weeks of regular use I’ll post a final report and review.
Yesterday I had my first in-water therapy session for my back. I’m a little stiff today. Following a recent MRI I was diagnosed with arthritis, narrowing of the gaps between the vertebrae and a couple of discs slightly bulging. Somewhere in there a nerve pinches once in awhile and puts me down with massive back spasms and insane stabbing pain.
My latest back doc recommended aquatic therapy for the back, to strengthen my core and help relieve some pressure on the lower vertebrae. It was an interesting session. I was in a small pool with a moving floor. The doc had me do core exercises like walking in the water, forward, backward, sideways. He even turned on jets to provide more resistance. I also did some kind of water weightlifting and resistance training.
At the end I did a relaxation session where I floated vertically to let gravity help the back loosen. It was not a difficult session and I had to remind the doc that when my back isn’t tweaked, I’m pretty much 95% and no pain. That said I can have some stiffness in the morning or after sitting for a while. The doc told me I did great and can “take a lot more” than most people, so he will be working me harder in the next session. Bring it on.
He also said if I tweak the back to call or text him and get in the water right away. He says some water therapy can get rid of the spasms quickly. I have my doubts on that, but the next time I tweak it I’ll be giving that a shot.
I consulted with my back doctor yesterday. We looked at my recent MRI and discussed some of the issues going on with my back stiffness and spasms. There’s good news and bad news.
What I Hoped For
I had hoped that the doctor would look at the MRI and find an obvious issue to be addressed. “See here? This bone is pushing on a nerve. We can do x procedure and your problems will go away.”
What Really Happened
The doc said I have arthritis in my lower back and in some areas the vertebrae are bone on bone. In some areas of the back there is limited room for the nerves which causes them to pinch and produce pain. Also I have a couple of discs which are slightly bulging.
Good News/Bad News
In a way, this report is both good news and bad news. The good news is that I don’t have anything super major wrong. No risky surgery required. The bad news is that there’s no simple solution and my pain and discomfort is likely to continue, and probably get worse.
The doc said if I have more pain or can’t shake the issues, he could try doing some steroid shots. He said they could last a varied amount of time, even as short as a month. He prescribed physical therapy to strengthen my core and supporting muscle structure. I start that next Thursday. He also set me up with a prescription one-a-day anti-inflammatory.
I’m a little miffed there’s no quick/simple solution, even surgical. At the same time I don’t have to worry and endure the stress and risk of back surgery at this point.
I’ll give the PT a worthy effort.
Mornings are quite painful for me these days. After the initial pain of looking in the mirror wears off, I notice some back stiffness as well.
Lately I’ve been hitting the back and the golfer’s elbow with Reliefor. Reliefor is a topical ointment which provides temporary relief from arthritis, muscle strains, bruises, sprains, aches, joint discomfort.
Reliefor utilizes five ingredients to help reduce or relieve minor aches and pains: menthol, aloe, Boswellia, vitamin E, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
Menthol: analgesic, pain reliving properties.
Aloe: natural skin-soothing agent.
Boswellia: an herbal extract which helps reduce swelling.
Vitamin E: protects cells against damage.
Methylsulfonylmethane: (the longest word ever written on this golf blog) a remedy for chronic pain, like arthritis.
On and Off The Course
I need all the help I can get, especially with the bad back. This topical cream can help take the edge of some of the aches and pains I experience on the course or at the computer writing awesome blog posts.
One great feature for the golf game is that this topical analgesic dries and does not leave the hands or the treatment area greasy or slippery. Nothing worse than treating your back with some pain relieving gel, then having your $500 driver slip out of your hands and knock the windshield of a car in the parking lot. Naturally the only Bentley in town…
While Reliefor can’t relieve me of the pain of looking in the mirror every morning, it can help loosen up the aches and pains that can make golf even more difficult.