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”.

Eddie Hall
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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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.

 

Jonty’s Journey – Brief Update!

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Remember sports presenter Jonty Sargeant? Well he’s featured in two of my blog posts here – and it’s good news of a very modest nature.

He informs me he’s playing five-a-side every Tuesday night, and has been doing so for the past month.

As you will recall, Jonty twisted the Anterior Cruciate Ligament of his right knee in a tackle during a game playing for his radio station’s team two years ago.

This resulted in surgery, a long recovery period and arguably, a wariness about playing sport that could remain with him for life.

Jonty’s philosophical and enjoys his work interviewing top players and presenting sports programmes.

But it’s still great to know he’s back playing football – albeit in five-a-side.

And I like good news. Don’t you?

 

From football pitch to operating theatre – and back?

How does a football club manager deal with injury – when it’s his own?

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Taking it easy ISN’T easy

Meet Richard Ibbs, 32, who is in charge of AC Milton.

Now it’s not as if he’s got access to the medical support and physiotherapy enjoyed by the likes of David Beckham, but that’s no reflection on his dedication to his club.

Rich sustained his injury whilst helping out his men.

“Basically didn’t have enough players to start the game with, we only had ten players so I decided to help the lads out and actually play,” he explained.

“So during the course of the game I was passing the ball with my left foot and a defender came through my standing right knee – and as they’ve taken it straight through, that’s literally thrown me in the air and snapped my patellar tendon.”

He wasn’t prepared for the pain!

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A team-mate donated a new pair of jogging bottoms!

“It felt like somebody had literally blown my leg off. It felt like I’d stood on a landmine or something like that – that’s the only thing that I could imagine it would feel like. The whole of the bottom of my leg felt like it was hanging off.”

After a disagreement with the referee about exactly how he was to leave the pitch, he ended-up having to be “manhandled” off by his team members, then taken to hospital.

Initially Rich thought he’d “just sprained something” but ended up undergoing surgery to replace his kneecap and stitch back his tendon, because there was a five-to-six centimetre gap between the ends of it.

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Rich in action on the pitch

He’ll be in a leg splint for four weeks, then in a brace with restricted movement for six more – and that’s before he even starts physio on the leg.

“If I was a tradesman, you’d be talking 10 weeks off work. Because I do have an office-based job, hopefully, I can possibly even start work from home maybe in four weeks, but it’s going to be quite a substantial amount of time off work.”

In the short-term, those 10 weeks will compromise pre-season training, and in the long-term, Rich has to come to terms with some very harsh realities.

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Anyone got a staple-remover?!

“I’m not going to deny it, it’s almost made me cry while I was in hospital when they said to me after the ultrasound, you know, ‘You’re probably not going to play football again’ or ‘You’re very stupid if you decide to play football again at a competitive level’.”

Rich has taken his side to Sunday Coors Premier League from the Third Division.

He’s keen stress his club is a work-in-progress – ” a group of friends who are trying to evolve a community football team that everybody can be proud of”.

I’ve got a hunch that no injury’s going to get in the way of this goal.

Crutches versus Glamour

Gratitude, as I said in my Blogiversary post, is a many-splendoured thing. gratitude

I had a glorious Guerrillas workout again this morning, as opposed to this time last year, when I was rocking the granny shoe look.

This unflattering form of footwear was the only equipment offered me, and I have looked at many accoutrements made available to others who underwent leg injuries.

For example I would’ve enjoyed the services of a knee scooter and so, I’m pretty sure, would my friends in the pub!f0c9ae3cfa7bd1d3445449e01db4150a

The magical Marilyn Monroe knew that crutches certainly were NOT a Girl’s Best Friend – but that didn’t keep her away from the cameras.

Note the interesting combination of stiletto heel with the bandaged foot shown right – she doesn’t look too happy does she?

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Marilyn out jogging in Hollywood in 1951

I had imagined that, as Marilyn was no stranger to the joys of exercise, (regularly going jogging before it caught on as a trend) her frustration could only be imagined.

She sprained her ankle whilst filming in 1953 and not happy with the conditions in which she was injured, reportedly insisted on wearing a cast and taking time out of the schedule – to get back at the director!

If I’m wrong on the above please let me know – I’m admittedly no expert on Monroe, but I like her spirit.

MEANWHILE!

Hopefully, most leg injuries are temporary in the great scheme of things, but – for those who do currently have a broken foot like I did – and/or need crutches like Marilyn – here are some questions to ask yourself/your doctor/your best mate etc etc:

  • Will you be able to rest your injured limb on the ground? If so, can you use it for balance while walking?
  • How can you bathe? Can you stand in the shower, or do you need to use a bath tub?
  • Can you just use one crutch as a cane? If so, what’s the best way to walk with a cane?
  • Can you go swimming?
  • What are the best ways to position your arms and maintain posture while using crutches?

Blogiversary!

Well – give or take a couple of days, it’s my first Blogiversary!

In plaster

Breaking a bone in my foot which stopped me doing my favourite workouts was just the catalyst I needed – as I never have been an “ideas woman”, yet knew I needed to blog.

The idea was ultimately to give hope, not least to myself, but to anyone else for whom exercise is a way of life that’s suddenly taken away from them.me-xray-foot

I broke my fifth metatarsal in my left foot falling off the arm of the sofa whilst swatting at the smoke alarm – my boyfriend had been cooking sausages.

Gratitude is no bad thing. Today I just threw on my kit and did what I normally do, just go out for a run. This time last year that simply wasn’t an option.

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Ugh – just LOOK at that shoe!

We are talking a crazy-sized granny shoe and the geriatric “hobbling” which easily made me appear much older than my years.

And I’m comparatively lucky.

During the course of this blog I featured the story of Austin Rathe, who faced the real possibility of leg amputation after a road accident – and developed his resolve to run a marathon whilst recovering in hospital.

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Flab fear – I don’t want to look like this

I wanted a dancer who’d recovered from injury – and she came along in the unlikely form of Amber Kershaw, then aged nine, who’d recovered from a broken arm to street-dance on a competitive level.

Blogging is a steep learning curve and I’m still learning.

Part of the fun, of course, is seeing how well each blog post does – it really is quite fun looking at the stats.

In that respect, by far my most successful post was Maxing Out, which featured fellow blogger Christian Boyles, from Illinois, US, of Maxed Out Muscles.

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Nerves? Yes! A shaky selfie just before my return to Guerrillas

 

Having suffered depression and flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease he told me: “I wanted to take control of my life and not allow myself to become sick again.”

Another high-hitter was Does Yoga Heal? a Q and A with my yoga instructor Espi Smith.

My inevitable fears over putting on weight led to an article on my pet hate – dieting. And I’ll level with you, the inevitable flabbiness caused by lack of exercise did impact on the choice of clothes I could wear for work in the unforgiving summer.

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Yup, I’ve learned to be grateful

Of course there were land-marks along the way in my recovery – getting the six-week all-clear at the fracture clinic, my return to running – and Guerrilla Training!

And whether I was able to run or not, I kept in regular contact with ParkRun – where, much to my surprise, I returned to do a Personal Best.

In the end it was simply a question of patience and letting the bone recover, as it inevitably did.

But this blog did (and still does , as I have no intention of finishing it) help tremendously.

So it’s true – Time really is the great healer.

Along with blogging!

Where’s That Duck?

This has got to be my happiest post since I started blogging.

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A young runner honks the duck to mark a personal best

Yesterday I ran a ParkRun personal best.

Believe you me I thought I would never improve – but I smashed my last time by a minute!

The last time I visited ParkRun, a broken bone in my foot simply meant I was unable to run.

It was then, however, I learned for the first time that, when you run a personal best, you get to Honk The Duck!

Even once my recovery was sufficient for me to start running again, concerns about finishing near the back – or, God forbid, even last – kept me away from Hanley ParkRun since March. And that’s nearly a year ago.

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At the start

 

Getting into the mind-set is everything – but I find this quote from John Bingham can help:

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

So, run I did.

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That’s him

 

Personally I really think the Guerrilla training really does help – particularly my least-favourite bit, the cardio!

The three-mile course does have quite a sharp hill right at the start, before you’re really into your stride.

Most times I immediately feel my lungs/heart protesting as the rest of the group surges ahead, but today that didn’t happen.

 

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Real live ParkRun ducks!

Needless to say, the support you get on the way round from marshals and other runners is fantastic – and towards the end a guy I know came back for me, and accompanied me on the last section, before letting me sprint to the finish.

Any duck-honking traditionally happens when you’re still at the bandstand, before said duck is packed away along with all the other equipment.

However, that only really applies to those who have timed themselves, as opposed to people like me who wait to get the result texted to them. I want to be accurate!

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Bryn’s daughter Millie was race director (here they are organising the data ready to send out)

 

By the time this happened I was sitting in the ParkRun “café” (a church hall), drinking tea and eating hot buttered toast!

Today my body gets a High Five from me for its ability to fully recover.

And it was a special day for the kids involved in ParkRun too – all the volunteer positions were manned by youngsters, who had an adult present where applicable.

Director of the Hanley event Bryn Holmes explained: “Well, we often have juniors that volunteer on a weekly basis so we decided to have juniors like the event director, all the way down to the marshals, the scanners – and even down to the ticket sorting-out…”

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Poppy, seven, sorts out the tickets after the run

 

“Hopefully one of the event directors of the future would’ve been here today – you never know!”

He admitted it was mainly the idea of his 11-year-old daughter Millie, who, with another girl, got to be run director – addressing the 232 runners before they all set off.

She admitted: “Yes I was nervous, because it could’ve all gone wrong! It was fun, but kind of harder than I expected.”

You can find out more about Hanley ParkRun here.