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“I was really down when I was told I had to cut back on running. But then I shifted my focus to rehabbing my injury.”
Thirty-six-year-old high school government teacher, Adam Reitz, initially began running to help with weight loss, but soon found that he loved running more than food, and became a marathoner. When he began having pain in his Achilles tendon while training for the 2015 Boston Marathon, he feared he might not be able to compete. Then he met Coordinated Health orthopedic surgeon Brett Godbout.
Adam Reitz had been athletic in his youth, playing basketball in hIgh school, and was never concerned about his weight. But as he got older and more sedentary, and a love of food supplanted sports, the pounds began to pile on until he topped the scale at 290.
But it wasn’t until he saw a photo of himself taken on a school trip to Hawaii in 2008 that he realized how out of control it had gotten. He was appalled by what he saw.
“I didn’t recognize myself,” he says. “I decided it was time to start eating right, exercise and lose weight.”
Encouraged by his friend and fellow teacher, Kevin Anderko, Adam began running short distances.
“I could barely run around the block when I first started,” Adam laughs. But over time he worked his way up to small 5K races – then full marathons in Philadelphia and New York City. Now at his ideal weight of 175, he runs 60-70 miles a week. And last Fall he began training for the Boston Marathon.
That’s when the Achilles tendon problem began. He tried ice, heat, anti-inflammatories. But the pain and swelling did not subside and began to interfere with his running regime. An athletic trainer at his school suggested he contact Dr. Brett Godbout, who is an avid runner himself.
Dr. Godbout diagnosed Adam with micro-tears in his Achilles tendon and prescribed physical therapy and a decrease in his running to under 6 miles per week.
“He was nervous about his future in running when he first came to see me,” Dr. Godbout says. “I let him know we would make sure he could keep going.”
And he did. Within months of his diagnosis, Adam was able to fulfill his dream of running the Boston Marathon.
“I’m very grateful to Dr. Godbout and my PT for all their help,” Adam says. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Dr. Brett Godbout is an avid runner who has completed many marathons. As an orthopedic surgeon, he can relate to patients like Adam.
“When Adam first saw me he was gearing up to run the Boston Marathon and didn’t want his injury to slow him down,” says Dr. Godbout.
Dr. Godbout diagnosed Adam with micro tears of the Achilles tendon, also known as Achilles Tendonosis. It’s a common overuse injury among runners that can cause pain with movement. If treated promptly, Achilles Tendonosis can be resolved through rest and physical therapy. When left untreated, it can lead to more serious ruptures of the tendon.
The biggest challenges Dr. Godbout faced with Adam were getting him to rest, decrease his mileage and stretch regularly.
“Adam admitted that he didn’t always stretch before or after running,” Dr. Godbout said. “That can certainly affect those Achilles tendons. You need to stretch to keep the muscles from becoming too tight.”
Dr. Godbout also encouraged Adam to do more cross training – like swimming and biking – to give his Achilles tendons a break and decrease the likelihood of overuse injuries.
“Running is a very high-impact sport so it’s important to let your body rest, and to participate in other activities that are less impactful. This is key for any athlete, not just runners,” he says.
Though Adam just completed the Boston marathon, he admits that stretching and cross training are still works in progress for him.
“I still forget to stretch and I know as I get older it will be a problem. So, I’m trying to be better about that,” he says with a laugh.
“As a runner myself, I understand what it means to have your mileage reduced due to an injury and how that impacts your training – and your life.”
“Adam is determined and motivated. Once he sets his mind to something, there’s no stopping him!”
Adam and Kevin Anderko are both teachers in the same school district and have known each other for a number of years. But it wasn’t until Adam began running that they became friends.
“I had been running for awhile,” Kevin says. “When Adam took it up, we began running together and got into a routine.”
That routine includes a 4 a.m. wake up time three days a week so they can get six miles in before they start the school day. Kevin, a father of four, readily admits that is no easy task for him. But he says it’s well worth the effort.
It was Kevin who encouraged Adam to pursue marathon running. Even though the prospect of 13 miles seemed daunting to Adam in those early days, Kevin was able to persuade him to sign up for a half-marathon.
When Adam told Kevin last Fall that his injury would force him to cut back on his running, it took a toll on his own running routine. Kevin found it difficult to get up in the morning to run alone.
“Adam and I definitely challenge each other and push each other to be better,” he says.
Though Kevin didn’t make the Boston Marathon, he wasn’t surprised that Adam was able to complete the run just months after an injury.
“I think it’s a testament to his personality and the physicians and physical therapists at Coordinated Health,” Kevin says.
Right away physical therapist Jess Ciecwisz knew that Adam was going to be one of her more challenging patients.
“The first thing he said was that he didn’t want to stop running.”
Since Adam was training for a marathon and continued to run throughout his rehab, Jessica did her best to instill in him the importance of stretching.
“We did basic hamstring, quad and Achilles stretches that he could do at home,” Jessica says. “I also showed him some additional towel stretches.”
Jessica also treated him with iontophoresis, which uses an electrical current to deliver steroids through the skin. After a topical steroid is applied to the treatment area, a charged bandage is placed over it. The electrical currents push the medication through the skin to increase its effectiveness.
Adam credits his PT with Jessica for his quick recovery.
“Jessica did a great job,” he says. “She listened to me and worked hard to get me back on track with my routine.”
“My biggest challenge was to keep him from overdoing it! He’s is a motivated guy and wanted to keep training.”