Back in the early 70’s, while watching the Olympics as a kid, I took an interest in long distance running. Not being the fastest sprinter, I found that I was able to run longer distances at a pretty good pace. My brothers and my friends and I would go over to Mount Vernon Park, now Jackie Robinson Park, on the south side of Chicago and start running around the park. By the time I was a college student at IIT, I was able to run from the campus on 31st Street, down Lake Shore Drive to the Buckingham Fountain and all the way back, a 7 mile round trip. Over time it was apparent to me that I had unusually tight calves. Then there wasn’t show stopping pain, but it was noticeable.
By the time I was almost 50, I started experiencing extremely painful shin splints. Physical therapists tried their best with stretching, exercises and orthotics, which did not help once I started running again. A few years ago, I took on running barefooted and running with minimalist footwear, like the Vibrams Five Fingers, and it all but eliminated the leg pain I was experiencing. Except the tightness of my calves, which was leading to increasing pain in the back of my heels.
The increase in the amount of pain over the past few years came to a climax last week when one evening I ran five and a half miles and then next morning couldn’t walk. It felt like someone had driven a red hot nail into the back of my heel. I called into my office and said that I would not be in, and later that day I visited the podiatrist. He did his examination, and drew a crude picture of a heel bone, the Achilles tendon, and a bone spur at that insertion point. Then he ordered an X-Ray of my foot, which confirmed his crude drawing. I asked was there anything I could do naturally to get rid of this, as I still wanted to continue running, to which he informed me that the only way to get rid of this nicely developed spur was surgically.
Obviously, the option to discontinue my running was not an option for me. He referred me to a surgeon who said that the procedure would consist of detaching my Achilles tendon, shaving off the spur and some extra bone development, then re-attaching the tendon. I would then be in a cast, then a boot for the better part of about 12 weeks after the procedure. Then I would have therapy and after about another 5 or 6 months I would be able to start trying to run again.
To some people, the thought of surgery is scary, but for me it was a relief that I may possibly be able to run pain-free. One of my brothers had this procedure done about ten years ago, and he is still running at 50 years of age, and he says it doesn’t bother him. Hopefully I will be able get many years of relatively pain-free running after this procedure. Taking off the better part of the next nine months is a small price to pay to buy back the upcoming years of continuing my lifestyle that includes running . So that’s it for this season. Pray for my healing after this procedure, that it will be successful and I can continue my running and fitness training!