THE BANE OF MY LIFE – A JOURNEY THROUGH REHAB’
So it’s the end of my first week in rehab. Yes, that’s exactly what they call it, and like you, I also laughed. If one more person refers to me as Amy Winehouse, I think I’ll crack.
As I touched on in my introductory article, I am currently undergoing six weeks of intensive rehabilitation on my knees. I am at the physiotherapists four days a week, for four hours per day, and the course will last six weeks. How thrilled I am.
I arrived on the first day with my swimming trunks and my towel in hand. Feeling like a child being given swimming lessons, I went into the changing room to get ready. Inside were a group of young men, aged between 17-40. All were relatively fit and active, but had encountered some sort of ankle or knee injury. It was explained to me that the first hour of the day would consist of hydrotherapy.
Now...silly me, the description of hydrotherapy sounded quite therapeutic. I had visions of being blasted with invigorating blasts of warm water. I imagined being nursed to perfection by an energizing pool of magic. How wrong I was...what a numpty I am.
My experiences with hydrotherapy this week have been somewhat tough (especially when you get out of the water), but also very enjoyable. The sessions would start with the group walking around, creating a current, then upon the gesture of the instructor, we had to change direction and walk against it. Sounds easy I know, but it is not and it gets harder throughout the week as your aches and pains mount up from one day to the next.
The physiotherapist was very eager to make these sessions as varied and interesting as possible. Therefore, the activities were all enjoyable, but hard and painful with equal measure. I will now list some of the exercises we have done this week:
- Step ups and squats: Now before I describe this activity I think there’s something that needs to be explained. The pool is split down the centre by a step. This step is the difference between deep and shallow water. To start this exercises we had to start against the wall of the deep end, and upon the whistle I had to run to the step and do ten step ups as fast as possible, raising the knee as high as possible. Then I had to return to the wall where I had started. Upon reaching this wall in the deep end, I then had to run to the wall of the shallow end and do ten squats, low enough until my chin touched the water. Heidi (the physio) stressed however that we should not be squatting too low.
- Tag: A child like game, where we had to run and tag other people in the pool. They had to run get away as fast as possible. In order to tag them, we had to use a long tube of foam, holding both ends in our hands, to then put over their heads down until it goes over their waists.
- Crashing Waves: I had to stand on one leg (like gankaku-dachi). Then, two people using floats under the water, had to create a strong current to crash into your leg in hope of breaking your balance. The test here was to maintain balance in spite of their attempts to push you over.
- Pull along: Two people had to stand with their backs to one another. One person had to hold the long foam tube in their hands, with the loop behind them. The other person had to stand within the space of the loop and put their arms over the top of the foam tube. The person holding the tube’s ends then had to walk the length of the pool, pulling the other person along also.
- Leg lifts: We had to place an inflated arm band on one of our ankles. We then had to lift the straight leg up out in front of the body (like a football kick) out and back as fast as possible. We were given 30 second bouts of this and every bout we had to work to beat our previous score. Similar exercises were done to the side and behind.
- Underwater Bicycle: We had to take 2 of the long foam tubes and place them between our legs so one end comes up your chest and the other comes up the back. Unbelievably, if you raise the foot from the ground, you will float. We then had to kick our legs as fast as possible in the motion of riding a bicycle. For every ten or twenty motions of the legs, you will move only centre meters and fatigue set in immediately. We had to reach the other end of the pool doing this.
Above is only a very short list of exercises used throughout the week, but they most certainly had the effect. Every day we would leave the pool, and my legs would be crying for amputation. We then had to gather in the gymnasium for group gym work...as you can imagine, I loved this L
Here’s some of the exercises I have done this week in the gym.
Group Gym Exercises
- Squatting circuits: Around the room there were different stations.
1. Side stepping, where you had to start with the feet together, take the left leg out to the side, bring the right foot to meet the left. Take right leg out, bring the left to meet the right.
2. Holding a big inflated ball, we had to stand with our back to the wall with a chair out in front of us. We had to squad down, bringing the ball down to meet the chair. Then we had to straighten up lifting the ball above our heads until it touched the wall. Etc
3. Lunges, but not too low.
4. Hold onto one of the bars on the climbing frame and put your feet on a bar beneath. Then, without using the arms, we had to straighten the legs to work the calf muscle.
- Yoga Mat races: We had to get into pairs and we were given two mats each, which we were to lay next to one another. Everyone did exactly the same, with everyone’s mats facing the same direction. Together we had to stand on the front mat facing our partner. We then had to step sideways onto the next mat, squat down and together pick up the mat above our heads and lay on the other side of the mat we were standing on. Emphasis was placed here on lowering and elevating the body correctly. We had to go up and down the length of the room doing this in a race.
- Bench slides and Squats: We were all gathered into groups of three. We were all given a long bench (the types you would have had in school – the long wooden ones). Adjacent were three yoga mats laid alongside the bench. We were numbered 1-3. The first person had to sit on one end of the bench, stretch the legs out and then drag themselves forward using only their legs. Once they had reached the end of the bench, they then had to do five squats. It was at this point that the second person started their manoeuvres along the bench. After the five squats, you then had to step from one yoga mat to the next lunging downward. And then you joined the back of the queue to start the sequence again. This exercise also involved moving along the bench backwards too by compressing the legs by the body and propelling the body backwards by straightening the legs.
Again, the above descriptions are only a short few examples of the exercises we did in the session. All however were fast paced and you were pushed to go faster and work harder. This then followed by a session of personal gym work.
Personal Gym Work
· X10 Minutes on the bike.
· X10 Minutes on the treadmill.
· Squats against the wall with a foam ball between the legs. X3 reps of 15.
· IT Band stretches on the bed and standing up.
· Ball throws to the wall whilst balancing on one leg whilst standing on a trampoline. 1 minute per leg in repetitions.
At the end of Week 1
It’s been a hard week, but most definitely one that has been worthwhile. I have trained for such a long time, constantly cautious of hurting my knees, that I am relieved to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It is so odd that the weekend before starting rehab, I did in or around seven hours of training with Sensei Hazard and there was no problem at all. I trained as hard as I could and I was fine...not even a murmur. The following week however, when teaching kokutsu-dachi in my mixed grade session, I could barely move even though the knees had been fine all day. It is completely unpredictable. How can I train for seven hours and be fine, but make only a few movements when I am teaching and I can barely walk without a grimace?
Every morning has been met with aches and pains, but I truly feel that I have already improved. My legs feel stronger and definition in all the correct areas more noticeable. To be truthful however, at this point it will be very difficult to measure the improvement of my knee as it’ll only be when I am training that I will see a difference. It does however simply ache too much to train in the way I normally do, so at this stage I cannot gauge the improvement.
It was interesting that on Thursday evening, my legs were in the most pain they had been all week. Thursday in rehab had been just spiteful and I was dreading teaching my class. In my senior session, I taught Kanku Dai, and being me, I couldn’t just stand to the side and watch. I demonstrated different points and got involved. What surprised me so much was that the next day, my legs were better than they had been all week. There was no stiffness and only mild aches.
The Friday group gym session, my comrades had told me, was the worst session of the week. I didn’t believe them, but I wish I had because it was just awful. We had to do circuits around the room at different stations. We spent one minute at each station and we had to work as hard and fast as possible. We then had to track the development on a tracking sheet, which the physiotherapists would use to track our development. After I had gone around the stations once, I was thrilled I was still walking...then the cheeky bugger asked us to go around again, but only for 30 seconds at each station. Our objective was to beat the half scores of the first round...thankfully I succeeded.
At the end of this week, I must admit that I have learned a great deal about how the body works. A notorious question asker, I asked the physio about every exercise to fully understand the movements and what they were designed to do. I suppose this is the karate technician in me coming out.
Again, can I please stress that these articles should not be followed as guides for self development if you too are encountering knee problems. These are all related to my injury so are specific to my needs. Please seek professional medical advice if you too are suffering from any injuries.
Part 3 Coming Soon
** With thanks to the awesomely talented Great White **