Commentary: Fear and loathing of a limp

I treated the persistent pain in the ball of my foot the way I cope with other pains: ignored it and I didn't tell anyone.

My sister had a neuroma surgically removed from the same spot. I didn't want to give my nuisance a name. The thought of surgery terrifies me since I'm beginning to increase mileage for the March L.A. Marathon.

Before readers call me an idiot who is in denial, I have to say that ignoring pain is an excellent strategy. Most running aches dissipate into nothing.

When pain's acute, I take time off, hit the gym or walk. The two times when a knee injury didn't respond to rest, I saw a doctor and requested physical therapy. I love physical therapy. It gets me back on the road and teaches exercises that I repeat for years.

"Hey, you're limping!" called Brad, a hiking friend, from the window of his Subaru.

Why do friends always spot me when I'm used up, finishing 15 miles?

However, Brad's observation made me face it. The pain in the ball of my left foot affected my stride. Favoring it could lead to problems with knees, ankles and back.

So, I revealed my malady to runners. Happily, I found they'd solved the problem nonsurgically. Here are some of their responses.

Bill Sumner: Ice and foot massage.

Evie: Spacers between the toes and reflexology.

Judy: Whole body massage.

Murph: Cotton balls between the toes.

Jake: Stay away from cortisone shot, try anti inflammatory, ice.

Whenever I complain of injury, my spouse chases me around the house with an ice pack from his voluminous ice pack collection. I run the other way. Why? It's a wife thing. Never listen to your husband's good sense.

Therefore, I ignored the ice idea, the ibuprofen idea, the massage idea, but I did stuff spacers between my toes. Relief, but no cure.

I ran 15 miles and power-hiked nine miles, my foot protected by beefy running or hiking shoes. Walking afterward, in girlie shoes, killed.

And, yes, distance running sometimes ended in limping. Face it, even if I'm able to work out for the L.A. Marathon, I'll never achieve a personal best with a limp.

I gave in and called my doctor, who was on vacation, so I asked, "Is there a physician's assistant who runs?"

I feared a nonathlete would say I had to have surgery or needed to stay off my foot.

Stephanie, the physician's assistant — who was young enough to be my granddaughter — listened as I opened with, "I promised Daily Pilot readers to run L.A.," just so she'd understand how much I had riding on her diagnosis.

"We're looking at keeping you on the road," she said.

"Runners put makeup wedges between their toes while they're running," she added.

"Here's a prescription for physical therapy. You could try ibuprofen, 600mg, 3x-a-day, but only for a week. Hard on the stomach and kidneys. Good luck on your marathon!"

Phew! I left hopeful.

I did seven miles today with wedges between my toes.

And as I type this, I have wedges between my toes and an ice bottle under foot.

Plus, I'll be calling for a physical therapy appointment.

But I'm holding off on the ibuprofen.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is training to run the Los Angeles Marathon at age 70.

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