Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a bunion is no fun(ion)

some of you probably expected this post to be a race recap. sadly its not. but this post is related to the half marathon i completed on sunday.

i've been a little quiet when describing how the race went. it was a pretty bittersweet event for me and part of that is because i had to limp the last four miles of the race. runners dread injuries, but i haven't experienced such a debilitating injury during a race since my shin splint days in high school. after barely finishing the race and spending the rest of the day with an ice pack on my foot, i knew i needed a medical intervention.

on monday i was lucky enough to get in with the michigan running institute for an injury assessment. i wasn't sure what to expect and i sure as hell wasn't expecting what they told me.

i'm in the beginning stages of having a bunion on my right big toe.

now hold on for a minute. when i hear the word "bunion" i think old man/woman with really nasty feet. how could i, a late twenties something woman, have old people feet?!

turns out, bunions are not what i thought they were. a bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint that's at the base of your big toe. you get a bunion when your big toe pushes up against your other toes, which forces the big toe joint in the opposite direction (away from the normal profile of your foot). over time, this abnormal position enlarges your big toe joint, which further crowds your other toes and causes pain (thank you mayo clinic). so instead of a straight toe, you get a toe that's angled to the right towards your other toes, smashing them together. if this goes on for a long enough period of time, the big toe can cross over the other toes, which requires surgery to fix.

bunion sketch credit to mayo clinic

turns out bunions are not uncommon for runners. they can happen for a lot of reasons, but for me, there are two large factors: very flat feet and very poor genetics. my grandma, my dad and my sister all have bunions (and flat feet). running has essentially exacerbated the bunion problem for me. with my flat feet, i overpronate, which causes me to put more stress/pressure on my big toe than if i was landing on my foot evenly. as a result, i also push off with my big toe at an unnatural angle. pair this with a poor fitting shoe, and i was cruisin' for a bruisin'.

part of me was relieved to hear that there was something wrong with me that i could work on fixing. we detected the start of the bunion early enough that we may be able to do preventative things to keep it from turning into a larger problem.

but another part of me is a little concerned. this isn't a quick fix we're talking about. i'm not sure what the treatment plan for a bunion is like, but i know a quick change in running shoes won't fix it. i have a full evaluation appointment on friday to determine exactly what my treatment plan is.

until then? no running.

yup, you heard me. i am supposed to take this week off. and whether or not i'll be able to run in my race in a couple weeks is questionable, too. someone cue the tiny violins, please. :(

obviously the only thing i want to do when someone tells me i'm not allowed to run is to run, but i'm trying to be patient and follow the advice of people who know better than i do. i'm hoping on friday to get good news and a treatment plan that feels actionable instead of drawn out and hopeless.

anyone else out there have fun with bunions?

19 comments:

  1. I have bunions on both feet, have had them for years (before running) thanks to genetics. The first time they bothered me was during my first marathon and after. This is why I wear wide running shoes and basically NO other cute shoes in my life (no heels for sure.) I'll email you separately for more, or we should chat. Hang in there!

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    1. I'm going to ping you or email you later. Lots to discuss. I never thought that my heels for client visits could be making this worse, but now it totally makes sense! Oy!

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  2. Alicia, I'm so sorry! I don't know much about bunions but I know about injuries and they just suck. I hope you get some answers and the treatment isn't lengthy!

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    1. Thanks Karen! I'm learning more about feet than I ever wanted to :)

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  3. Never had them or known anyone that had one. Ugh, I hope it gets better! And I feel ya on limping during the half, I limped 9 miles of my last half, I HAD to finish!

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  4. This is a family problem for me too. Thankfully I don't have them (and hopefully never will). I never knew what it was called, I just always knew that most of the women in my family had them. I'm hoping that I take after my dad. Anyway, so sorry to hear this. Not being able to run at all just sucks...in fact, being told that you can't do just about anything just sucks because it makes you want to do it more.

    I honestly didn't know there WAS treatment for this, so that is really good news! And it's great that you caught it early. While I'm not running as much, I am trying to find other ways to exercise that I enjoy...I hope you can do that too.

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    1. I'll keep my fingers crossed (and hopefully not my toes!) for you that you never get them. I take after my dad and his family is the one with all the feet issues... joy.

      Finding other ways to exercise is hard. I strength train, but I really don't like doing stationary bikes or ellipticals. Bleh.

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  5. Yeah, I've had them since my early 20s and like you, it's for a variety of reason. I have flat feet, my mom has them, and I was a ballerina for years and a runner now, so I'm sure all of that exacerbated it for me. They regularly hurt but I'm not quite at the surgery point yet, although I know it's in my future :(

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    1. :( I hope there are other things you can do besides the surgery!

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  6. Oh no! I'm sorry to hear about the bunion - what a total bummer. I'm glad you were able to catch it in the early stages though and hopefully will be back running in no time ;)

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    1. Thanks, Sun! All these different body parts you learn about from being a runner :)

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    1. Doing everything I can do avoid the surgery! Thanks for sharing your experience with me.

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  8. I'm sorry to hear about this injury! My left foot has started to look more and more like this over the last few years (it actually started when I went on a bad date one night that included a long, agonizing walk, haha!). Makes me wonder if I should get it checked out. I hope you have a full recovery soon!

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    1. So... high heels can totally make a bunion worse! Think of all the punishment they do to our feet! It doesn't surprise me your feet hurt on that walk. I never thought about high heels making bunions worse until another bunion friend told me she had to stop wearing them. It makes sense and now I can't imagine how I've made it worse over the past year as that is all I would wear during business meetings and travel. OY!

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  9. I also have bunions...no only 1 bunion - on my right foot (just like my mom and grandma). I wear a Bunion Bootie when I run and religiously wear Asics (1/2 size bigger) when I run. 12 half marathons later, still running. The larger shoe gives it space and the Bunion Bootie protects it from rubbing and just FEELS better b/c the toe isn't going to the right on me. Oh and I lace my right shoe funky - I skip the very top left eye on my right shoe - that helps me lace my shoes tight (I have narrow feet) while still giving the bunion room, especially after long runs in warm weather where the feet swell.

    Good luck - but don't give up running!!

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    1. Hi Laurie - thanks so much for sharing all this! I haven't heard of a Bunion Bootie but am immediately going to Google search it :) I hadn't thought about different lacing strategies - that's a great idea. I know my feet swell a lot, so that could be really helpful. Thank you for all of this!

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Getting comments feels as good as a freezing cold glass of Gatorade on a hot summer day. So don't be shy - share your thoughts & opinions! - Alicia