Early November 2014 I landed up in a hospital in rainy Chelmsford, I had sustained a couple of injuries racing that day.
I had both knee and shoulder damage, the shoulder was an obvious one as it wasn’t where it should be. After the medics had collected me from where I crawled off the track, it became evident something was wrong with my knee. As I walked away with them every step was met with a clunk in the joint.
This was later diagnosed as a grade 3 MCL tear, about as bad as it gets before it completely separates. Evidently, with this type of injury you can walk away from it, not so for the next 3 months though.
Along with the MCL there was grade 1 LCL and grade 1 ACL, these lot hang out together it seems, do one and likely you do them all.Mine was caused by the knee bending inward and twisting, something that I used to feel sick watching when playing Rugby.I must say it didn’t hurt at the time, it was horrendous the following three weeks though.
I had great care at Chelmsford but quickly returned to my favourite Hospitals “John Radcliffe” and “Nuffield Orthopedic” Lots of x-rays and consultancies followed, which resulted in a three month period off work. In this time I couldn’t walk unaided, or bear weight on the left knee. Bear in mind, I also had a left shoulder that didn’t work, so was left with only a crutch to walk on with the right hand, a rather hideous leg brace made of metal from ankle to mid thigh. Along with this I had my left arm in a sling, what a mess.
For the first week I didn’t much make it out of bed, this is miserable enough if you like exercise and the outdoors as I do.
It gets a lot worse than this though, having to rely on someone to shop for you is awful, there was quite a few weeks of this until I found a way to drive a car, an Auto.
So my first trips out alone were met with people politely opening doors as I obviously couldn’t. Now I like that people are helpful and care but after a while for people like us (I am presuming sporty types are reading this) it gets frustrating looking so shit.
My reaction was to remove the sling, get mobility back earlier in the shoulder so I could use two crutches and kind of looking less injured. Feeling a little better about myself I took myself off to do my own food shopping.
Standing in Sainsbury’s and realising you cannot push a trolley was demoralising, I must admit I felt a bit stupid at this point.
So back home I returned, the reality of my situation is beginning to set in. This is around week four by the way, at this point mental lethargy is setting in. Instead of using my time to programme or work on other gym stuff, I settled in and watched horror films.
Quite quickly in my absence my garden company began to loose contracts, a lot of them in fact. Around fifty percent of my yearly income had disappeared.
In this time I had always worked hard on re-hab, but the improvements were so minimal. It pretty much took all my mental energy. I stuck with it and it improved to a point where I could go somewhere else and do physio, I was sick of being home at this point.
So I spent some hours reading on the internet on the knee injuries I had, found the exercises that made the best sense to me and implemented them.
I had a good Physio looking after me called Ryan from the “NOC”.
I did everything he gave me. I also reported back to him what I was doing.
I even began to take my own measurements of flexion and how they were improving. I did this with brace they gave me, which you can set the range of motion on. One notch on the brace was a big deal at this point.
I was told this was a bad injury by the surgeon, I let it gloss over me as usual.
I found that adding self-massage in the sauna was beneficial, avoiding bad scar tissue really helped. I spent weeks in the sauna with Lavender oil -being on my own it wasn’t as exciting as it sounds. It worked though!
Caution obviously needs to be taken acting on your own like I did, but remember I am surround by Physio’s and people who had the same damage, all quite high level. Plus I had Ryan who is an “adventure racer” type and understood my need to get back and how much work I put in.
Around week ten I had enough mobility that I felt I could squat. The “Supermarket” feeling came back sharply. At this point I am in a heath club, full of the normal people with headphones on. Talk of eating 4500 calories if you want to “get big” when it is clear that this individual is partly responsible for the increase in Steroid abuse in the leisure sector.
It’s worth noting at this point that with this injury your leg muscles switch off, not in a “go soft” way, I mean it looks like someone else’s leg. Completely turn off.
Along with the glute, I don’t need to explain this to the Weightlifting people.
So the need to Squat becoming VERY important.
Looking for a way to improve the musculature and function of my dead leg(s)
I found a really good glute machine, leg extension, hamstring and leg press.Normally I avoid this stuff, but have always understood it has a use for re-hab. A lot of people use them just for aesthetics. I work on these machines willingly now.
My sessions were now looking like this;
- Mobility/massage – I would do this sat on the Plyo boxes, which annoyed the OAP ladies not the young Bodybuilder types.
- I would then just rotate around the machines with sets of 20-30 reps.
- Leg press
- Glute Thingy
- Leg Extension
- Seated Hamstring
- First single leg then both.
One session I noticed the much ridiculed “Smith Machine” I watched people bench, press, upright row, partial bench and deadlift on this versatile thing. Yes “deadlift” I bit the bullet and tried a squat in it as I couldn’t even get a quarter squat with a bar, because you can squat with limited knee movement over the toes I could really start to improve my mobility.
I also thought it a good idea to walk on a treadmill, after all I haven’t walked unaided for three months. Recently I walked twenty kilometers in Slovakia for “Pierogi Ruskie” – a type of dumpling with cheese and vegetables, covered in crispy Bacon chunks.
After a few weeks of this stuff the progression of my recovery has taken off, I am back at work and squatting with a bar. It’s no where near where I want to be but I can actually train, I’m confidant it’ll all come back quickish. I was given a nine month re-hab period, It is month four now. I have work to do but I want to be “back” to normal in a six month period.
I was discharged from Physio yesterday and it’s made me happy. It was suggested that I write about these last few months, I resisted thinking my injury is of not much interest.
The best part of my ongoing recovery was sparked by “tales” of amazing recovery periods in professional sports teams.
So I thought it would be ok to write my recovery, Unlike the “Pro” sports team guys, I was treated within our NHS system.I am fortunate however to have had years of functional training and good advice around me, which has helped.
There is no doubt someone who is “Fucked” at the moment. If it helps, that’s good.
Just do the work.
Don’t let mental lethargy get hold of you like I did.
Also, go race something.