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August 27, 2016
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Strangely Stiff

I've been dealing with odd (as in, in strange places and of undetermined origin) foot pains for the past year or so. Mostly, these have been on the lateral sides of my feet, starting with my replacement of the non-slip lace-up shoes that have been required at work (they've since switched over to accepting white or black athletic shoes, and have not complained about the brown ones that better coordinate with our tan pants). Most of the time I've had foot pain in new shoes, it's been that the shoe that fit so well in the store fits and functions somewhat differently in real-life conditions. That's not been the issue here, at least as far as I can tell. According to my doctor's most recent tests (done in April, while we were still in chilly weather), I have neuropathy from my toes to about the balls of my feet, the distal phalanges of my hands, and a bit further on my right hand than my left. X-rays show some arthritis (WTF?!?!?!) in my neck, mostly on the right side, and apparently in a pattern common to many computer users (frequent mousing comes to mind). We have also determined that I have been living with tendinitis in my left arm and elbow from overextending my left hand to grasp large items purchased, quickly, during the Christmas season. While it's mostly resolved for now, it's only a few months until we're back into Christmas season.

Over the past few weeks, the foot pain has more or less limited itself to the lateral side of my left foot, just back of the ball, and a tendency for my arches to cramp if I've either been standing still for most of my shift, or walking at my sister's considerably slower pace. Once my arch cramps, it will cramp again with pressure on it until it's had a fair amount of time to work itself out.

I've also been dealing with bilateral point pains in the area of my lower back/hip and buttocks. There are two specific points on each side that are painful to point pressure, related to stiff/stiffened muscles. Previously, I've associated pain in those areas with either a bed that needs replacing (ours has, for years), a too-stiff mattress (The Other Half likes a much firmer mattress than I do), or riding "in the drops" (the frontmost, curved sections of road and track bike handlebars) with a heavy load on my back. Now, they seem to be related to tightened muscles, which could be the result of cycling without cross-training, or (just as likely) standing for hours at a time, especially since they seem to be aggravated by movements that stretch the IT bands and glutes.

At the best of times, riding in the drops lessens the pressure on my shoulders and wrists, since my elbows act as pistons, absorbing the road shock. The lower position also stretches out the back and glutes, areas that have been giving me trouble. I spent the last few days riding more in the drops, but finding out that instead of easing the pressure on my hands, they've been going numb less than a half-mile out, instead of the three miles out that is more typical for current weather conditions. Mixed bag, that.

The other issue with this all is that the more I try to stretch out after riding, the more my lower back and hips bother me when I try to fall asleep, and the stiffer I am when I awaken. It would make sense that, based on my activity profile (or lack thereof), I should benefit from a structured yoga or Pilates program — but when simple stretching aggravates the issue, I'm baffled.

My next doctor's appointment is in just over a week. I need to make time to discuss these developments with her then.

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