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By Dena Goldstein, Buzzworthy Blogs

I knew something wasn’t right the day before the race. Tender and stinging, a subtle pain in my hip begged me not to run the next day. I dismissed the warning, patched on an Icy-Hot, took some Advil and went to bed, hoping for the best.

The date was August 20, 2011, only four days after my 22nd birthday. I laced up my bright blue Nike running shoes at about six that morning for the Mini-Madison half marathon, a 13.1-mile course in Madison, WI. Those four days between my birthday and the race were significant—I rotated my pelvis, misaligning my center of gravity. I don’t know the exact moment or how it happened, but it did.

At the time, I had no idea; all I knew was something wasn’t right.

The race officials decided to hold the race, even with the rain. By mile three, my socks were soaked, a blister had developed on my foot, and even my stupid headphones stopped working. That wasn’t enough to deter me from running the next 10 miles; I ignored all of those signs. About halfway through, I stopped to stretch. Mind over matter, I pushed through and crossed the finish line. I looked and felt awful.

I obtained a finisher medal as well as a limp. I could not walk with a normal gait; my left hip hurt too badly. The pain did not let up the next day and I decided to take my bum hip and defeated spirit to University Health Services, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s onsite health provider. The physician diagnosed me with hip bursitis. Bursitis is the inflammation of one or more bursae, fluid-filled sacs, which serve to reduce friction between tissues of the body.

I wore crutches for two weeks, iced my hip and prayed for relief. It came for a couple days and then the pain came back, worse than before. I started my senior year of college with a sense of uncertainty and imbalance. The next nine months took a toll on not only my physical health, but also my psycho-social well-being. I cried. A lot.

I felt broken, confused, and frustrated.

The many stretches and strengthening exercises the sports rehab specialist suggested didn’t help. Chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy failed to achieve anything. Rounds of Advil left me with an upset stomach. Even a cortisone shot only helped for a month or so. Hot baths, pool exercises, and meditation temporarily relieved the pain. I kept trying, maintaining the persistence and drive which got me into this situation in the first place. Occasionally, I would lose hope. While I tried to stay positive, the pain was overwhelming.

It wasn’t until I combined the philosophies of Dr. Rachel Feinberg and Hanna Franke that I experienced relief. Dr. Rachel Feinberg, an anesthesiologist, runs Injury Specialists, a progressive and holistic rehabilitative practice in St. Louis. Hanna Franke, a Certified Neuromuscular Massage Therapist, is founder of the Neuromuscular Pain Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin.

After rounds of trigger point injections, foam roller/myofasical release techniques, and orthotics, Dr. Rachel restored my sense of balance. Hanna empowered me with a shoe lift, BioSomatics, and a regimen of neuromuscular massage therapy. I am now able to walk and run pain-free. My goal now is to run a 5k this summer without stopping.

On May 2, 2012, I wrote in my journal: “My hip pain is minimal. I took a biosomatics class yesterday with Hanna. It helped release some constrictions. I woke up and felt like jelly. Every atom of my body is smiling with delight.”

I am forever grateful to Hanna Franke and Dr. Rachel. They helped me navigate through my pain when I lost a roadmap. They believed in me. Most of all, they made me feel whole again. My spirit sings. To this day, I stretch almost every morning for at least 20 minutes.

From this physical challenge, I refined my resiliency, strength, and character. I gained a new appreciation for being able-bodied; I am grateful for the ability to walk. This experience molded me into a more empathetic, understanding, and well-rounded person. I learned patience, self-love, and acceptance.

Dena Goldstein is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her personal mission is to use communications as a vehicle for social change. She enjoys trying out local cafes in Chicago, visiting the farmers’ market, and attending Turbokick classes.

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