So what does "Proprioception" have to do with a running blog. Hold it, I am not even sure I qualify as a runner since it has been 2 weeks with no running.
First about the running, it has been really tough but I decided to quit running until the pain was reduced. I have been getting the ankle treated by a Doctor who specializes in ART (Active Release Technique) and here is how it has gone.
Treatment 1 - Last Thursday - ART and Graston
Pain during treatment - not as bad as I thought, only during one movement was it somewhat intense and even then it seemed like a good kind of pain.
Pain a day after treatment - could barely walk, the pain was different but I had pain on every step.
Treatment 2 - Monday - ART
Pain during treatment - less than the first day, just some minor twinges.
Pain a day after treatment - could walk much better, the pain was less, almost felt like I could run.
Treatment 3 - Today - ART and exercises
Pain during treatment - almost none, just once did I even notice some Before he did the treatment he had me do exercises for about a 1/2 hour, more on that below.
Pain a day after treatment - still not 100% but hopeful.
So for the first time in a while, it seems like the ankle is on the right track.It seems stronger overall and I haven't had stabbing (as in very sharp and intense) pain that would happen when it would seem to catch during movements. He seemed to get that resolved during the first treatment. After the treatment he said he could feel adhesions between the ligament and muscle as he moved across the Deltoid ligament, right where I had had the pain last fall. To me it felt like he pulled something apart kind of like, they were released from each other. No idea if that is what he did, just happy to not have that sharp pain anymore.
Ok, what the heck is "Proprioception (HealthLife definition)" and what does it have to do with me?
He explained to me that I had very poor Proprioception (wikipedia definition) and that he believed that once I improved on that, my ankle would respond and get stronger fairly quickly. He said a trail runner having poor proprioception, well that's a really bad thing.
Here is a definition I came across that seems to make sense (it's from an about.com article on "Balance Training and Proprioception")
The term proprioception refers to a sense of joint position. Proprioception training is highly common in rehabilitation of injured athletes, but it can just as easily be used to prevent injury. Even a strong ankle can sprain when running on uneven ground if the runner hasn’t trained the neuromuscular system to react appropriately. Slight deviations in terrain require slight adjustments of balance to avoid injury.
So he said I needed to do some exercises to make long term improvements with the ankle. He initially just had me stand on a 4 x 4 inch by 8 ft beam. As I tried to stand on the beam he explained what I needed to work on. I could not believe how much I struggled to stand on the beam. After a few minutes he had me walk down it's length, basically taking small controlled steps until I reached the end of the beam, then I had to walk backwards and repeat. He emphasized that speed didn't matter only maintaining my balance. He had me go sideways down the beam and back. He then had me do lunges the length of the beam and back. He said normally he would like me to repeat all of the above with my eyes closed but I wasn't ready for that instead he had me focus on the wall to reduce my visual clues. He said that in a month most people would have it mastered, of course for me he said it could take one to three months. He clarified fairly quickly that was only because my ankle was in bad shape, not because I have no sense of coordination and balance. Sure....
My balance did get better throughout the exercises but still was pretty pathetic and I couldn't believe how much I was sweating just trying to stay on a beam.
As to getting a beam for myself, he suggested going to Menards/Home Depot and buying a cedar beam, sand it down a bit and have at it. He said not to use a green treated beam and that another alternative would be to use a couple of 2 x 4's except that they would probably warp which was fine, it just might would make it harder to compensate for the bowing.
Hopefully I will be running again soon.