Eleven days ago I was out running on the North Downs Way on a gloriously sunny day with a plan of completing 15 miles. However, a brief lapse of concentration when looking to overtake some other trail runners ended up with an acute ankle sprain. After the nauseating pain of the injury and the feeling of fluid pooling around my ankle, I knew my run was over and in came an embarrassed call to my wife and kids to come and pick me up.
I do not normally run these distances but I was in training to complete a 10 hour non-stop run at my children's school to raise money for the special educational needs department, and this was meant to be in just under four-weeks time. If I had seen this injury in my practice then I would have suspected a grade III ankle sprain, with a possible fracture which would need to be excluded. Recovery time? Upwards of 8-12 weeks. Clearly I didn't have this time available so it was time to practice what I preach in daily practice and see how quickly I can get back to running.
Initially it was all about reducing swelling, pain and maintaining function. Deconditioning happens really quickly so I was also conscious of maintaining muscle strength, balance and proprioception. Very quickly I was cycling on the turbo training, performing aggressive rehabilitation with kettlebells, and constantly using ice and heat to reduce swelling and to encourage blood flow to aid in tissue healing.
Today is now eleven days since injury and I have just completed a five mile run, half trail and half road with decent inclines. Rehabilitation will continue until the run in two-weeks time but this is testament that we should be guided by our signs and symptoms and not be afraid to start the journey to recovery sooner than what the books say. Obviously I have nearly 12 years of osteopathic practice under my belt to draw from, which is why anyone who becomes injured should seek professional help as soon as possible.
No-one likes being injured, and the psychology behind being injured is just as painful as the tissue damage itself. Being able to engage in cardiovascular, strength and functional training at an early stage really keeps you motivated and engaged in the journey to recovery. It is crucial you seek professional guidance and not guess at it. Aggressive rehabilitation takes careful planning and execution which is a constant drip feed of exercises and therapy to getting better. I feel confident that in two-weeks time I will be ready to run for 10-hours straight.
Lets be honest, the children who need the special educational needs department at school have a much more difficult time every single day of their lives, I just have to endure 10 hours which is very easy in comparison. Neuro-divergent children, like my daughter and many others, have significant challenges every single day which neuro-typical people would not even think about. This could be something like their toast not being buttered in a certain way, their clothes don't feel right or their hair hasn't been tied up perfectly which could all result in a 'meltdown'. This is all in the first hour of waking up. Is there something in the day which is going to cause significant anxiety to which they will have to 'mask' and supress all day until they can come home to their safe place. I cannot tell you how hard neuro-divergent individuals have it each and every day, but we do know that early intervention is crucial in preparing our children for the big, frightening world that is completely set up for neuro-typical people.
If you would like to donate then please follow the link below. I will be completing this challenge with Russell Dixon, another dad at the school, who will be sat on a bike for 10 hours.