I begin my weekly Wednesday night run through Nail Can Hill Reserve with 4 of my O-mates, we turn off the tarmac, onto a fire trail and approach the first step onto singletrack.
I jump onto the trail, then fall like a sack of spuds – going down with a searing pain in my right ankle, having misstepped onto a tree root and going over my foot – badly.
The 5 of us stop, have an impromptu clinical chat (2 physios, 2 osteos and an EP are good company to have on hand!), and then I hobble home to nurse my ankle. Part of me angry, part of me really upset, the rest of me in a state of anxiety and pain.
As I’m sure many of you reading this will know, I have been training for the Port Macquarie Ironman. As I write this, the event is in 12 weeks exactly, and just as I felt I was starting to really get into my groove, I’ve only gone and injured myself! The timing for this is really poor – not only am I in the middle of Ironman training, but my water polo season is approaching the business end as well.
Whilst the pain in my ankle and foot was initially really bad, the long term prognosis is quite the opposite. I was able to be seen in a timely manner by two of our amazing physios and promptly put into a moon boot. There is a catch though – I know that in order to return to water polo and my ironman training, I’ll need to be compliant! Imaging was also discussed and after orthopedic testing, we decided that an MRI wasn’t worth the wait time and the cost for my scenario. Diagnosis – a Grade 2 sprain.
With an acute injury – I preach that timeliness is important; I scheduled two appointments in 5 days to help overcome that initial pain spike and also address a short term plan and prognosis, as well as get the ball rolling with rehab. Ellen was excellent at guiding me through this and this really decreased the fear and anxiety that I had surrounding the pain and my prognosis. I began my rehab immediately and also decided to miss water polo games and any training scheduled until I had the green light from my therapist.
I also made sure I followed advice on pain medication – I avoided anti-inflammatory drugs, however took Panadol regularly over the next few days – even when I felt like I didn’t “need” it. This was to make sure that any improvement to range of motion in my foot wasn’t impeded by feeling pain and stiffness (this is the most common reason reported why acute injuries don’t improve!) My pain relief regime allowed me to rehab my ankle with a greater range of motion each day; which I am certain allowed me to make rapid improvement.
Once out of the acute phase, I gave my ankle plenty of LOVE:
- Load – returning to appropriate activities within my pain tolerance levels.
- Optimism – remaining positive about my prognosis because I knew I was doing all the right things.
- Vascularisation – doing pain-free cardio activities that increase blood flow to the injured area. This meant I could continue to train on the bike.
- Exercise – an active approach to my rehab restored strength, proprioception and mobility to my injured tissues.
What does this mean for my upcoming water polo and ironman training? For starters, I’ve missed a necessary amount of activity to give my body a chance to recover and I’m easing back into it. I still need to protect my ankle and I’m going to continue using treatment aids (taping, bracing, pain relief) whilst my tissue is still repairing.
I’ve modified my weekly training schedule: Running is off the cards for me for the time being, however I am using this as a chance to do more strength training and rehabilitation.
All things going to plan, I’ll be right for water polo finals and ready to do about 6-8 weeks of running before Port Mac ironman. This is a MASSIVE challenge for me to ease back and listen to my body during the next 2 weeks to recover, however I know it is necessary.
If you want an update on my rehab or training, please don’t hesitate to ask or comment on my moon boot – good thing they’re in this season!