When Treating Peripheral Arterial Disease With Exercise You Can’t Be Chicken: Further Observations

treating peripheral arterial disease with exercise
Galaxy loves to be picked up and petted. A lovely creature. Don’t be chicken when you exercise with PAD, and NO! We do NOT eat our chickens.

When treating peripheral arterial disease with exercise to improve the painful symptoms of claudication (which is screwing with my running, but not affecting cycling – interesting), there is a number of key issues to consider.

  1. Conditioning: Tight muscles are less readily perfused with blood than are relaxed muscles. Underneath tightness lies weakness, so conditioning is important. This requires dedicated training.
  2. Tightness: Old injuries can lead to tight muscles due to guarding, so fix it, which can be easier said than done – as in the case of the muscles on the outside (lateral aspect) of my right calf due to a motorcycle wreck nearly 50 years ago.
  3. Skill is important, as there are many ways to walk and run, some of which (less tense) can optimize peripheral vascular perfusion, while others (more tense) do the opposite. I’m finding my sweet spot in that regard.
  4. Warmup: Before running, a solid warmup is critical, as is post-run stretching (lengthening).
  5. Patience: Building collateral blood vessels takes time, so expect to make progress slowly.

This morning, I did some speed work at the running track, confined to 8 x 200 meter pickups. I preceded the run with a 2.5-mile steady walk, followed by stretching at the gym. The stretching included plenty of roller work for that tight lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle in my right lower leg – the most apt to have claudication issues.

Result: With the same perceived effort my first 200 was at an 11:07 pace and the last at 8:30. This gradual increase in pace was the result of warming up and settling into a tension-free running style.

Make a plan, log progress, and don’t be chicken. I know it hurts like crap when you stop to re-perfuse those poorly supplied muscles, but so what? It’s better than amputation, don’t you think?

I’m not ready for hoppathons, just yet.

Wishing you happy trails,

kev aka FitOldDog

treating peripheral arterial disease with exercise
Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.