Road to Recovery

If you’ve ever thought a sports injury would stop you exercising or playing your favourite sport ever again, Chris Peil from the Move Well Project has some good news for you.

“My role as a rehabilitator is to support people in being able to do the activities that they want to do, at the level that they want to do them, without having the injury,” he says.

Like many of us, Chris knows what it’s like to have a health care professional tell you to give up – but understands that could simply be in order to avoid straining already stretched NHS resources.

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Chris is a mobility practitioner and exercise referral specialist

“The easiest way to stop somebody being injured from an activity that they’re doing is to not do the activity. So we will often get the advice ‘Oh that hurts you stop doing that’…

“So it’s a different mentality – it’s much more like a professional sport mentality of ‘Okay we’ve got this person who has an injury, and we’re actually going to help them to get back to fitness for what they want to do’ as opposed to ‘oh it’s unfortunate this person’s injured, they can no longer do that’.”

Refreshingly, the mentality he refers to involves being proactive in your recovery, not passive.

“One of the big issues – and this is what the Move Well Project is about – is that, traditional therapy, traditional medicine tends to take the view that the person comes in and something is done to them.

“They are given a medication or they are given a massage and they just lie there, they do nothing.

“In reality that is not how you get conditioned back – to being resilient enough to do the activity without a normalised risk of injury.”

Chris has helped people ranging from registered disabled who want to improve their quality of life, right through to “the strongest guy to have ever walked the planet”.

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The World’s Strongest Man focuses on recovery too (picture – BBC)

We’re talking Eddie Hall, who was crowned the World’s Strongest Man in 2017.

Anyone who’s seen the 30-year-old from Newcastle-under-Lyme in action will know he can dead-lift half a tonne – that’s the weight of a horse.

I was also pretty impressed by a one-armed “human dumb-bell” display on Instagram!

And yes, Eddie Hall gets injured too – most recently his hip.

“Ed’s injury was from pushing the boundaries, so anyone who’s in elite sport is having to push the boundaries of how much stress you can create in training and then recover from in order to get to be higher performance,” says Chris.

However, there is a difference – in that Eddie Hall incorporates the idea of recovery into his tough, well-documented training regime.

“He focussed on the other side of the equation, because it’s easy to create stress, creating stress in training is quite easy, recovering from that stress enough to actually be fitter, stronger, that’s the thing that you can actually potentially speed up and that’s where he focussed.”

This incorporated plenty of sleep, correct nutrition, hydration, “hands-on therapy” and even using a hyperbaric chamber to increase his oxygen supply.

“It’s the Yin to the Yan…” says Chris  “He balanced out everything he was doing with the most recovery work he could possibly do.”

Chris does see plenty of people who want to train like a Champion without deploying the necessary life-style changes.

Okay, maybe not a hyperbaric chamber.

But one of the most common mistakes, Chris says, is that people will “throw themselves in very quickly once they get effectively ‘signed-off’ by the physio – ‘yes you’re okay to train again’.”

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Kettlebells are just one aspect of strength training

Instead, a gradual, balanced approach is the key – and the good news is – if you’re careful, you can still challenge yourself, even in the process of recovery.

“Too much stress too quickly increases injury risk, not enough stress means that it’s not resilient enough for the demands.”

Chris also believes wearable technology, which gauges things like your heart-rate and even sleep quality, can lead to a more tailored training approach.

But a lot of his work is simply about helping people cope.

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Chris has competed as a strongman, an Olympic lifter and an indoor rower

He sites examples of helping one woman avoid spinal surgery and “another lady literally had a broken back and we got her back to be able to function when she’d been off work for a significant period of time”.

So there you have it, it would appear there is hope for everyone!

Although I’m sure Chris would stress that – if you do have a sports injury – it’s still important to see your doctor or a health care professional before making a comeback.

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I’ll leave this here…

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Worth remembering next time you come up against another hill!

Three years ago a broken foot meant I was one of those people who couldn’t run – but wanted to.

The gift returned in the form of recovery – I’m back in my trainers.

 

Back in the saddle just weeks after appendectomy

British cycling star Lizzie Deignan is taking part in a championship today in Norway today – four weeks after her training was disrupted by emergency surgery to remove her appendix.

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The 28-year-old had to pull out of an event in Holland to undergo the operation on 30 August.

Lizzie, who won Britain’s first medal – a silver – at London’s 2012 Olympics under her maiden name Armitstead, has shown Olympian-style determination in securing her place in the starting line-up – admitting she needed to take to her bed following training sessions for the Norway event.

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Lizzie posted this picture on social media after her operation

In an interview with BBC Sport the reigning Commonwealth road race champion admitted it came as a shock – but she couldn’t stop thinking ahead.

She said, “It’s quite bizarre to be in such form, in such fine form – I was really going quite well – to wake up the next day in a hospital bed and think ‘right, that’s it, it’s over’.

“And I just had this small bit of hope that I could make it here and it wasn’t something that I was ready to give up on.

“Every day I was analysing how I was feeling, which isn’t probably the best thing for your recovery – I should’ve just let it go for a little bit, but I didn’t and I fought on and I’m here.”

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Lizzie at the 2012 London Olympics where she won Britain’s first medal (Photo: Cycling Weekly)

After around 13 days of bed rest, she realised she’d lost around two kilogrammes of muscle – something she admits was frustrating given the fact her training regime involved “sacrificing other races” in order to build up her strength.

Subsequent training resulted in Lizzie “being in my bed every hour after each bike ride just thinking ‘oh, that was painful!'”

But her motivation to line up as part of the seven-strong women’s team remained strong.

Lizzie told the BBC it was partly the enthusiasm of the Norwegian fans that made today’s event attractive, plus the fact did a recon of the circuit back in May and reckoned it would be “perfect” for her.

She added “My career is coming slowly to an end – there’s a few more years in me yet – but I know that if I look back in a few years I would definitely regret not giving it a go.”

THE UPDATE..

Predictably, Lizzie wasn’t victorious, finishing 41st in the event, after “fading” in the final lap.

In a Guardian article, she reflected, “My team-mates kept me going. If I wasn’t in a team as strong as that I would have been tempted to pull out. But I thought: ‘I can’t let these girls down, I have to be there as long as I can’.”

The surprise winner was Dutch cyclist Chantal Blaak, whose “day job” involves working as a domestique for for Deignan in the Boels-Dolmans squad.

Now obviously as an outsider to cycling I thought “domestique” meant something like “domestic” so I had visions of Ms Blaak on her hands and knees scrubbing floors but no, the term apparently means being something like a pace-maker for other, higher-profile cyclists.

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Winner Chantal Blaak weeps (Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Image

 

The Dutch woman’s victory came despite a heavy crash earlier in the event which drew blood on her right shoulder, and which she feared would put her out of the race altogether.

Lizzie Deignan said: “I am so pleased for Chantal…

“She had such a hard crash we heard that she was out. And yet there she was!”

Both women evidently will not let illness or injury stand in the way of their sport.

 

 

Spirit of the Marathon

It’s just hours since both the media and social media celebrated the selfless behaviour of the Swansea Harriers runner who gave up his race time to help another guy who was clearly struggling in the London Marathon.

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Picture: Sky News

Matthew Rees, 29, was shown physically supporting David Wyeth, of Chorlton Runners, whose legs “just crumbled” just 200 yards from the finish line.

A marshal also stepped in, and with the finish completed at a walk, both runners still managed a respectable sub three-hour time.

Thousands of viewers must’ve seen the live footage of the troubled runner, first named by concerned TV commentators as David Wyeth, while he staggered exhausted and jelly-legged and at one point appeared to totally collapse to the ground just off camera.

Maybe this, then, could not have been one of his finest moments?

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Pic: BBC

Rees told reporters he had been preparing to sprint the end of the race, but that helping Wyeth was “more important” than improving on his time.

In a Sky News article he said: “[David Wyeth] was really grateful, but he wasn’t very coherent, he was just like ‘I have to finish, I have to finish’.

“And I said ‘you will finish, you will get there, come on let’s do this’.”

Race organisers Tweeted that Rees “encompassed everything that’s so special about the #LondonMarathon”.

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Pic: PA

 

 

He’s being rightly hailed as a hero – but he’s not the only one.

Wyeth was running to raise money for the hospice which helped his late uncle.

His relatives have since Tweeted to say he’s now fine – and “recovering with a burger and a beer”.

A pic posted by a cousin reveals a confident face totally different to the confused but resolute expression shown in The Mall today.

David Wyeth’s determination to finish – when every reserve in his body had been used-up – is surely worthy of any marathon hero since Pheidippides.

 

 

 

When you can’t run the London Marathon

I’m one of the many runners who won’t be taking part in today’s London Marathon – but that’s for the simple and shockingly straightforward reason that I haven’t entered it!London Marathon - Eddie Keogh Reuters

Consider then, the poor individuals who have – but who’ve had to pull out through injury or illness.

One of my former work colleagues says on FaceBook he’s “gutted” he’s had to sit this one out, but urges other runners “have a great race and soak up the atmosphere”.

But the good news – for those who got in via the ballot – is if you had to withdraw your entry through illness or injury the organisers say they will guarantee you an entry for the 2018 event – as long as you follow these guidelines, that is!

Good Luck to everyone taking part today.

 

We’re still not doing enough – apparently!

Women are 36 per cent less likely than men to be physically active.

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Are we stretching ourselves enough?

That’s according to new research by the British Heart Foundation which claims this lack of physical inactivity in both sexes is likely to cause as many deaths as smoking.

And the study goes on to say a third of British people are at risk of heart disease because of a lack of exercise.

Now if you look at the date my last blog post you’ll see I’m guilty of a lack of blogging activity!

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Feline fine  – I have no exercise statistics for cats

My observations would simply be that if you don’t really like exercise then it’s hardly going to be a regular part of your life (just like the “strict diet” we’ve all announced we’re going on at some stage and which usually lasts the best part of one morning).

We are told two million Brits are apparently not meeting government targets of how physically active we should be.

Government targets? Yes, apparently they do exist for fitness. (Take a look at the NHS-recommended ones here.)

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Nobody LIKES burpees

The idea of the government telling us to get fit and healthy (almost Orwellian!) – once inspired me to write an article for BBC News on how MPs get fit. Do they practice what their employers preach?

Of course I’m going to come back to why it’s women who are taking significantly less exercise.

I don’t see a marked lack of females when I do my Guerrilla training. If anything the men are outnumbered, especially in the morning classes and at weekends.

So what’s happening?

After all, this report has highlighted the fact that even “active” people are at risk if they don’t do vigorous exercise.

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No it’s  the other way round

Now while I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys doing things like star jumps and burpees – it’s stuff like that that can really make the difference – and, as many women will testify, gives them more body confidence when they hit the town or get into their bikinis!

Of course it goes beyond worrying about your appearance – Thank God – and I’d like to think we’re past the idea of exercise being unladylike or unfeminine.

Women’s sport is getting more coverage – just look at the Oxford/Cambridge boat race coverage at the weekend.

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We know, we know

But then I’m looking more at exercise being a lifestyle thing rather than something competitive.

Adele’s gone on the record saying she hates exercise.

And speaking as somebody who heartily loathed P.E. and sports days at school, I don’t think anybody should be forced into it.

So I’m wondering – could this element of feeling one is being coerced be the reason one GP-referral programme of council-funded fitness classes was recently axed?

South Tyneside Council said only 17% of participants completed it and less than 10% became more active.

But whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with gender!