‘THE BANE OF MY LIFE – A JOURNEY THROUGH REHAB’
Injuries in karate are not uncommon. Slip, misjudge distance and ‘bang’ you get a split lip. It doesn’t take much logic to figure out that when you practice a Martial Art, contact and injuries may occur.
What you probably do not expect when you first start training however, is that in ten or fifteen years down the line you may encounter a bad injury... but not at the hands (or feet as the case may be) of someone else.
Visit most karate seminars up and down around the world - Iceland, Japan, India, or literally any country in the world - and you will see a common sight. You will see a Karateka with a good few years of training under their belt, strapping up their knees, elbows, ankles or any other body part for that matter. Am I right?
When I was a kid, more advanced karateka would tell me that you could tell an experienced karateka by the wear and tear of his/her belt. Now however, I tend to count how many body parts are in pain to gauge the time served...joke!!!
We expect to get punched or kicked, but do we necessarily expect to injure ourselves?
For the past year or so, I have been struggling immensely with my knees. Chronic pain after training, swelling and regular, unexpected ‘give ways’ that leave me sprawling on the floor. Think I am unattractive on my feet? Imagine me dropping to the ground with sheer disbelief and annoyance spread across my face. In truth, they have been the bane of my life during these past months.
A typical man, I ignored the pain for a good while. I told myself after every session and trip the floor that it was a simply injury that would mend itself. Similarly, like most men who suffer from ‘man flu’ – a sniffle that we convince ourselves is a life or death flu – I complained and complained. Emma, at the end of her tether and sick and tired of hearing me go on and on, chose and shouted a few expletives that told me to go to the doctor. It’s a stereotype I know, but like most men I have convinced myself that I am the ‘boss’ of the house, but in truth I am not. I had been told to go the doctor, so to the doctor I went.
Here in this article, I would like to give you an introduction to a series of articles that I will write (not sure how many at this point, it all depends on how long it takes to get fixed) based on my life whilst on the 6 week rehab program my physiotherapist has put me on.
But before I get there, I will give you a little background.
I am 23 years old and have been training for the better part of 17 years.
When I look back, much of the training of my childhood was quite unhealthy, but due to my young age and my young flexible body, I was able to make it work. Like I tell my students now, ‘just because you can make it work does not mean it is right’. Simply, just because you can force your body to do something and eventually make it work - as you practice it so fervently- that doesn’t mean it is good for you or your body.
When I left the group I was once a part of, I started travelling and reading more. I trained with a wider variety of instructors and started following the man I believe to be finest teacher out there. His karate is based upon not only developing explosive and ultra effective combat techniques but is also very much invested in longevity, and training in a way that looks after the body and operates in the natural way. My training is healthier now than ever, but sadly my body is feeling the effects of a long time of bad habits and a lot of unhealthy training.
I first encountered pain whilst teaching at my dojo. I was demonstrating mawashi-geri with my right leg and my base leg was screaming. It was giving me terrible pain, but thought little of it at first. I ignored the problem for a short while, but I found walking and climbing stairs painful and the clicking in my knee on every step was just grassing me up to Emma. I eventually visited the doctor.
My doctor referred me to the physiotherapist that initially tested my knees, range of movement, and attempted to locate the problem. I was referred to have an ultrasound which revealed that I had no ligament damage, a great sign and a gesture of hope for the future.
From there I was assigned weekly appointments with my Physio Jay. Based upon information he had been given, he then set about administering a course of acupuncture to the knee and interestingly my foot. I went, week and after week and I found no improvement other than easing swelling slightly. I was then passed on to Steve, the head of the Physiotherapy department, to take a look at me. I followed the exercises at home that Jay had given me to no development, so Steve then started to look at alternative possibilities. At first he gave me a type of treatment (I cannot remember the name of the treatment) which sent electrical currents through the knee. This I found very helpful initially as it eased it tremendously.
On my second appointment with him however, he called over a gentleman from a different department who specialises in feet. Measurements were taken of my legs and they said there was a discrepancy in the size of the legs (something that is not all together uncommon), but most significantly that my knees are turning in, due to the arches of the feet collapsing.
He then explained that because the arches have dropped, this means that the knee too is turning inwards, against the natural and healthy alignment.
Now in spite of my sparse understanding of the human body, one thing I have learned is that the body is very adaptable. The muscles will realign to adapt, which they did with the drop of the arches of my feet. This meant incorrect muscles are being used, over developing the wrong muscles and under-developing the correct muscles.
I was therefore given soles for my shoes. Then the bad news came...
Outside of karate, and outside of TSW, I work in a school. I love the 6 weeks holiday every summer and make the most of time to myself. It’s a time to write, read and absorb myself all day into karate. The physiotherapist had a bright idea however...let’s get Shaun in to the hospital during the 6 week holiday break for intensive rehabilitation.
4 days a week, 4 hours a day for...yes you heard me...6 weeks.
I will, over the next few months provide information about my development etc here in these articles.
I hope they are of interest, and give an insight into the problem I am encountering. Can I please stress however that all exercises I detail refer to my condition and should not be practiced by anyone if not given by a specialist.