Friday, 7 October 2016

Rest, Respite & Recovery

Roughly 3 weeks ago, during a dry land training session with a group of young swimmers, I had to administer first aid. In the midst of handling the situation as best I could, what I didn’t foresee was that I, myself, would ultimately be the one with the worst injury.

During a group game held outside on a football pitch, two of my athletes collided. I promptly stopped the game and assessed the injured swimmer who appeared, on a brief first examination, to have either sustained at best a painful dead leg and at worst a broken femur. Thankfully, it soon became obvious that it was the former! We iced the affected area before myself and another member of staff helped her back towards the changing rooms.

On our way to the building I realised that I’d left my key fob for the door back on the grass, so jogged back across the car park to grab it. I reached the end of the car park and my ankle buckled and gave way. You’ve probably done the same before and can appreciate how painful it is. Two things then made this situation even worse for me: 1) The momentum of my jog took me down a steep slope off the side of the car park and onto the grass, meaning that I was forced to carry on running and 2) I then had to pretend I was absolutely fine and continue administering first aid!
My poor swollen ankle :(

Three weeks later and I’m still in pain. I haven’t been able to exercise as I would normally and I’ve had to be very careful at work. Unfortunately being injured as a self-employed Personal Trainer isn’t ideal, as I’m sure you can imagine!

So, based on my experience I thought I’d list a few basic things that should be done if you ever decide to go over on your ankle.

1)      Stop what you’re doing immediately – movement at this point is probably going to further inflame the area.
2)      Elevate – raising the ankle above the level of your heart will help to reduce swelling (lie down, don’t try to stand up and do this!)
3)      Ice – grab a trusty bag of frozen peas or one of those ice packs from the first aid box and apply it to the affected area. Most ankle twists result in soft tissue injuries from inversion (going over on the outside of the ankle). In this case, expect most pain and swelling to be on the outside of the foot. A less common but equally painful eversion injury will lead to pain on the inside of the ankle. Icing for 20 minutes 4 or more times a day is optimal. Continue this indefinitely.
4)      See a doctor – most doctors will probably send you to A&E for an X-Ray just to make sure that there’s no fracture. I cut out the middle man and went straight to the hospital myself and managed to be in and out in a very respectable 1.5 hours.
5)      Compression – everyone should own a flexible bandage. These are great for providing support and limiting swelling.
6)      Movement – if you’re lucky and haven’t broken anything, you’ll be advised to keep it moving but not to bear too much weight on it for too long. Resting it for long periods of time will stop the vital blood flow through the tissues and will slow your recovery.
7)      Sort your nutrition – eat as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible and steer clear of processed foods. Vitamin C from leafy green veg, Bromelain from pineapples, Omega-3 from oily fish, curcumin from turmeric, and garlic are all fantastic inclusions.

You could be back to full fitness in no time or you might be unlucky with permanent weakness in that area. I’ll just have to sit tight and hope that my own injury clears up because I’m itching to get squatting, running and lunging again!


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