Today I got my “On This Day” notification from Facebook. It was a photo from 2011 of me getting an x-ray on my knee. Though it’s improved massively, it’s still an injury that affects my training. Earlier this week I was offered a place in the Oxford Half Marathon which I would have loved to have done, but had to decline because I knew my knee couldn’t hack it. Both these things got me thinking about injuries (it was a slow day).It can be a case of not warming up properly, awkward movements, or simply bad luck, but injuries happen. Almost everybody I know who trains or plays sport has had injuries at some point. These have varied from leg breaks to poorly pinkies. They’re part and parcel of exercise. Who knew exercise was so bad for you?!
There are of course basic measures you can take to avoid injuries. A decent warm-up and stretching before exercising is always a good idea. Then ensuring you’re using the correct form when performing the movement/exercise. A good stretching session after training or sport is never a bad thing either. You can go one step further and consider things like physio, sports massages, and other therapies, but not all budgets stretch that far – I know mine doesn’t.I’ve had, and still have, my fair share of injuries. If I was a player on Football Manager, my ‘Injury Proneness’ would be close to the 20 mark. Injuries still affect my training and, more frustratingly, my everyday life. I thought I’d share my pain with you, because I’m nice like that.
Shoulder / Rotator Cuff
I’ve dislocated my left shoulder twice, and have limited rotation of the rotator cuff. The first time it happened was when I was playing football on astro turf – I tried a volley on the turn (which I could never pull off anyway) and ended up landing on my left arm. The shoulder popped out the joint for a few seconds then went back in. I carried on playing because that’s what men do – stupid men, at least. That resulted in an ultrasound, a steroid injection (the legal kind), and 6 months of physio and rehab work.
Almost a year later, I was feeling strong and back to normal. I was in the gym doing some incline dumbbell presses. I got halfway through the movement and POP, out she comes. No training or sport for 6 weeks, then another 6 months of physio and rehab, and the realisation that it’s likely to dislocate again at some point, as is the nature of the injury.Thankfully it’s not happened again, but that’s due to the preventative measures I take. I always warm up my shoulders and back, and do rotator work before any kind of exercise. I also don’t push myself too hard in the gym when I’m working shoulders. The bigger impact it has on me is the day to day stuff. I’d love to learn to play golf, but I can’t because of the rotation. If I sleep in an odd position, it can give me grief for a few days. Generally I just have to be cautious with it all the time and listen to my body if I’m pushing it too far.
I suffer from patellar tendonistis (runner’s knee) in my left knee. It’s the result of the patellar tendon being over-sressed. This injury came about after a few years of hitting the gym. The issue was that in those first few years, leg day only happened about four times. I was a chest and arms man. I played a lot of football, and enjoyed running, but I never worked on strength training in my legs, and paid the price.
The muscles surrounding the knee simply weren’t strong enough to support the impact from running or football, due to the increase in muscle mass up top. It got to the point where it felt like the knee was about to explode when I was running any more than 10km.A few trips to the physio and the acknowledgement that I needed to train legs seemed to do the trick. Having a bad shoulder was probably the biggest help I had, as I could only train my legs!
The issue still flares up from time to time, but I can alleviate it. Foam rolls on the iliotibial band (IT band) is absolute torture, but it’s a massive help. Then I’ll throw in some stretching, cold therapy treatment, and make sure I rest up. It’s not something that will ever fully go away unless I go under the knife and get the knee cleaned up.
This is less problematic than the other two, and definitely the most ridiculous. It stems from when I was a chubby kid, about 5 years old I think. My older brother was really doing my head in (he’s my brother, so kind of his job), and I decided that the best way to sort him out was to kick him. However, he moved with ninja-like speed and deftness, meaning I kicked the hard bottom of a sofa. I ended up on crutches for a few days.
Ever since then, my right ankle has been weak. It twists or sprains whenever it sees fit. Walking down the road? Gone. Playing football? Gone. Doing squats? Gone. Putting shoes on? Gone. Looking at it funny? Gone
So as you can see I’m an injury waiting to happen. I’m resigned to the fact that something else will come up, but at least it keeps life interesting I guess. Plus you meet all sorts of interesting characters in A&E – ok they’re mainly drunks, but it’s always nice to meet new people.