I’m a meathead—plain and simple. I can’t deny it. Well, I used to deny it—but those were the old days. A douche de jour would imply—not so covertly—that I am, in fact, a meathead. At the time, while I was in college, this was too much for my ego to handle—so I’d fire back a hasty reply. Of course, I didn’t want to deny that I was made of meat, so I’d keep the word in my clever (I’ll let you be the judge) response. I’d fire back with something like, “meatstick, dude” or “meatface, brother.” Each term implied that I was meaty, but that my brain still worked. After my latest debacle, however, it’s clear that my dome is just for show.
A Hill, Frustration and My Cuboid Plays the Victim
It had been a long day and stress levels were high. A few things hadn’t gone my way—no parking space in front of my house, a few personal issues, and my caffeine high was quickly dwindling. In searching my tiny excuse for a lizard brain, I found only one option. Sprint up a hill.
Judging by the information that I’ve given you thus far, running a few sets of hill sprints doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. You’re right. You’ll judge me differently after I fill you in on the rest of the details.
I’m a strength coach—well at least I play one on TV. So I’m privy to a lot of information on warming up, mobility training, and activation exercises yada, yada, yada. I’ve always heard that information is power—but that’s only true if you use it.
On this fateful occasion I decided to ignore everything I had learned up to this point in my career, what I preach to my clients every day, and skip out on that whole warm-up razz a ma tazz. I jogged to the hill—roughly a quarter of a mile—hit a couple of sprints at fifty percent and then tore off like a banshee.
When I was done I felt better. I walked back to my house, had dinner, read and wrote for the rest of the evening. It wasn’t half bad.
The next morning, however, a monster was waiting for me.
As I arrived to train my first client of the day on a clear, but breezy, Monday, I stepped out of my car and put my left foot on the pavement. I made contact with the ground and my foot and ankle lit up like a drunken Irishman playing the pipes!
I scanned the rooftops. To my surprise, I didn’t find a second-rate sniper that snapped off a shot too low. But I did find my knee buckled and half a protein shake on my seat. Super.
It had to be a fluke, right? I wasn’t really injured—there’s no way! I took another step—bam! The pain train plowed its unwelcome self into the lateral part of my left foot and ankle—starting on the bottom and running just under my lateral malleolus. A proud meathead had fallen (figuratively).
I ran a mental comb through my brain—trying to figure out what happened. Nothing hurt last night. Hell, nothing hurt up to this point in the morning. There could, however, only be one possible group of offenders. The hill sprints.
My lizard brain had hidden from my consciousness my left ankle’s awful dorsiflexion, my tight lateral calves and my navicular collapse (flat feet)—three distinct risk factors leading to cuboid syndrome.
The Cuboid and the Blockhead
I’ll preface the rest of this section by stating that I’m not a doctor, nor am I a physical therapist, chiropractor or manual therapist of any sorts. What’s more—I diagnosed myself. I think I’m right, but I also still laugh at Sponge Bob. If you learn something new from the following descriptions—awesome! But understand that this is all based on my best guess and I’m just a dude.
Shitty dorsiflexion, flat feet and tight peroneals—I own them all, and they all lead to foot over pronation. Consequently, over-pronation during landing is thought to cause cuboid syndrome. Cuboid Syndrome, by the by, is described as pain in the lateral foot accompanied by general weakness. This happens because the cuboid dislocates by everting to the extreme.
The crap of it is Cuboid Syndrome is a bit nondescript. It can occur as a nag overtime, or appear acutely after an intense episode (a la a meathead sprint expedition). Associated pain can feel dull and achy or sharp and fierce (1).
My pain was sharp and appeared quickly, out of nowhere. But, being the quasi-reasonable person that I am, I’m sure that the issue was cumulative. My feet didn’t flatten out of the blue and I’ve been playing sports since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. The sans-warm-up hill sprints merely awoke the sleeping dragon—aggravating the cuboid of a blockhead.
Of course, the pain doesn’t come from the bone. The surrounding muscles and ligaments are exasperated and inflamed. In laymen’s terms, they feel like a bag of smashed assholes.
Treatment, Self-care and a Parable’s ending
Mom always told me that if I don’t care for myself no one else will. She’s also told me that I’m a great dancer and that it’s not dorky for grown men to love Star Wars. Funny thing is she can never look me in the eye when she says this stuff. It makes a guy wonder.
I decided to trust my mom and care for myself. I’d like to convince you that my decision was based on scholarly pursuit and self-liberation. Learning was definitely part of the process, independence is an admirable quality, but let’s be honest; I was being a stubborn meathead. A doctor probably would have told me not to lift. So I researched typical treatment protocols.
Luckily, I found that there is a general consensus on how to reverse Cuboid Syndrome symptoms—reduce inflammation, mobilize and manipulate the bone. It was nice to see folks agreeing with each other.
I put my foot in the deep freeze for twenty minutes at a time, at least two times per day, since the incident. I also popped some NSAIDS.
After the swelling dropped I harnessed my inner MacGyver and figured out how to mobilize and manipulate the cuboid all by myself. I can feel your judgment through my computer screen. Like I said, I’m aware that I’m no doctor. So unless you have a law degree, stop judgin’ me. Like Tyrone Biggums, I had moves to make.
Now that I’ve got you interested, I’ll tell you what I did. But don’t you do this. You go to the doctor.
First I located the cuboid by moving medially and superiorly up from my styloid process. Then I mobilized my cuboid back toward inversion by applying pressure to the outside of the bone. After that I put my foot and ankle in traction for one minute with a jump stretch band. The band was positioned across my cuboid—again promoting inversion. If you’re thinking, “Todd, you’re a goddamn magician”, don’t worry—so am I. (Of course, I’m kidding. I’m not that arrogant, nor have I had any formal magic training. I can’t even pull off a card trick).
I repeated the process a few times. After a few rotations I felt my cuboid move. Of course, this process isn’t therapist approved, but it seemed to work—at least a little bit. I felt like a king upon his throne.
It’s been a cool learning experience, but, predictably, the moral of the story is, don’t be an idiot. Avoid meatheaddom at all costs.
My haste, frustration and ignorance hurt me. Had I followed any semblance of a purposeful warm-up, I wouldn’t have damaged my foot. Had I followed my own advice, calmed down for minute and used my brain, I would have hit the two other sprint workouts that I planned for the week. Instead I’ve hobbled like a pirate, popped ibuprofen like a junky and iced myself cryogenic.
After this fiasco it’s obvious me to me that I’ve retained meathead status. Unfortunate as it is, I can’t deny it. I hope you’ve learned from my mistake and some good comes from my stupidity.
My meatface has in reality revealed a meathead, but keep your faith in me. I’m on the road to redemption.
1. http://cuboidsyndrome.com/ (8157)