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.

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Does Yoga Heal?

Can I still do yoga? Here’s a Q & A session with my instructor Espi Smith.

Espi says painful moves should be avoided
Espi says painful moves should be avoided

Me: What adaptations should I make to my practice?

Espi: I guess that depends on how you define the word “yoga”. If you are looking at only the asana (postures), they you will need to modify your physical practice to account for your injury. In your case, you should avoid standing and kneeling postures as well as some seated asanas that involve the outside of your foot putting pressure on the floor. If it hurts, it’s a definite no-go!

She uses a greater understanding of internal energetics and anatomy since being injured herself
She uses a greater understanding of internal energetics and anatomy since being injured herself

However yoga is much more than a physical practice, its a way of looking at life. Pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, proper diet and positive thought will all help keep you happy and healthy throughout your recovery.

Me: Anything I should definitely avoid?

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

Espi: Anything that puts unnecessary pressure on the foot. Remember to listen to your body and not your ego, if there is pain it’s a sure fire way of knowing that you’re upsetting a part that should be healing.

Me: Do you know anyone who’s survived injury to continue their practice?

Espi: Yes, me! A few years ago, before I’d let go of my ego and gotten over my competitive side I decided that I couldtry and jump from Down-dog to Crow (an arm balance that requires a lot of strength).

Good communication is the key to maintaining the fitness lifestyle
Good communication is the key to maintaining the fitness lifestyle

Turns out I had a lot more momentum than strength. I face-planted on the floor with all my might and wound up in hospital with a neck-brace on and some very worried-looking doctors. Luckily I hadn’t broken anything I just had soft tissue damage.

A positive attitude is important
A positive attitude is important
The injury left me with a huge fear of inversions and arm balances. It took a couple of years of very grounding practice to give me the confidence to practice my arm balances and inversions again. Under the careful instruction of my teacher during my teacher-training, I got back into it.
Me: Can injury make people who enjoy exercise feel cut-off and even make them drop out altogether?
Espi: I think this is very much to do with each individual’s attitude towards being injured. If you see it as being betrayed by your body and allow yourself to feel that you have been kicked to the side-lines then yes, your are likely to become isolated.
It's all about mind, body and spirit (artwork by Molly Pepper)
It’s all about mind, body and spirit (artwork by Molly Pepper)
However, if you adopt a positive attitude, respect the road to recovery and speak to your teacher/instructor about the things that you can still do, then you’ll still be able to enjoy the fitness lifestyle.

Me: How can meditation help?

Easier said than done!
Easier said than done!
Espi: Meditation allows you the time to get out of your conditioned mind. The one that tells you that injury means “being out of the game”.
When you do it, not only will you get the chance to clear all the negative emotions that surround being injured, you also bring a deep sense of relaxation to the physical body.
The muscles and the nervous system will get a well-earned break and this will help to relieve any built-up tension and waste products that come up as a result of injury.
Finally, thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak about this on your blog, Emma. Rest, relax and remember to breathe. You’ll be healed in no time.
For more information on Espi, check out her website here.
 

Way To Go

Hi!

Welcome to Em’s Way To Go – in which I invite you to join me as I explore how to cope when injury compromises your exercise regime/goals.

I like keeping fit. I’m not a leading athlete but I hope to meet plenty of them in the near future to see how they’ve conquered something that goes beyond mere inconvenience.

I also intend to get plenty of professional coping tips!

Please, doctor, pretty please can I run? Yep, that's me - and I'm not even in plaster
Please, doctor, pretty please can I run? Yep, that’s me – and I’m not even in plaster

My story?

Off goes the smoke alarm – I jump on the arm of the sofa, swiping at said smoke alarm like it’s a piñata – anything to stop the eardrum-splitting screeching. Result? I fall off – crushing my foot underneath me.

I know something’s wrong – my running, guerrilla training and even most forms of yoga are about to be a serious no-no for the next few weeks. A conclusion subsequently verified by a doctor in A&E after an X-Ray. Fractured metatarsal.

I can practically feel my cellulite-ridden thighs bulging as I write this.

And those bingo wings of mine are as good as cleared for take-off.

Nobody told Coneygree injury would compromise his chances of success
Nobody told Coneygree injury would compromise his chances of success

So? Surely I’m not alone in all this? Right?

Last November, an eight-year-old gelding called Coneygree was pronounced lame by a racecourse vet at the Plumpton track after a two-year convalescence from injury.

His assistant trainer Sara Bradstock explained: “I said to (the vet), ‘It’s not just any horse that you’re f****** me about with here… ‘

“And do you know what he said to me? He said, ‘He’s had two years off, he’s not worth anything anyway’.”

Reader, allow me to introduce the winner of the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Sara Bradstock didn’t give up – and neither did her horse.

I hope to be meeting plenty of human Coneygrees in this Blog – as they share their stories with me of how they overcame injury.

Meanwhile, if you have an injury recovery story – or any tips – then I’d love to hear from you!