Monthly Archives: July 2015

Heel Fracture


No impact Aqua Running - Loan Belts available
No impact Aqua Running – Loan Belts available

‘I suffered a severely fractured Calaneum (heel) bone during a stag do in Berlin in the summer of 2014. It resulted in open reductive surgery where a plate and screws were fitted and I was unable to weight bear for 3 months.

Once able to weight bear I was limping and in quite a lot of discomfort. I would get easily fatigued after periods of standing and after a day on my feet at work would need to spend the entire evening recovering. If I did socialise out after work I would pay for it the following day or sometimes days with further stiffness and pain.
I received hydrotherapy and physiotherapy sessions soon after fully weight bearing and although this helped to a degree it was still painful to walk. I still had a limp, some days were worse than others and I got to a stage where my physiotherapist expressed doubt about his ability to help me any further as I was unable to perform a heel raise on the one foot, usually doable by this stage.

John was recommended to me by a work colleague who had had a running injury. I was feeling mentally defeated at this point as it had been a year since my injury and I still couldn’t walk without some degree of discomfort. I had recently been to a wedding reception after a day at work and as a result the 2 weeks that followed had been more uncomfortable than usual. I was having severe doubts about ever being able to walk properly again.

After explaining my situation to John he worked the surrounding areas of my foot and manipulated areas in my back. I physically saw a change in my flexibility between the beginning and end of this first session. I could now move my right foot back as far as my left which I was unable to do before and it was noticeably easier walking up and down hills as I didn’t have this flexibility before. I’m now also able to perform a heel raise on the right foot and can hold this position for around 30 seconds. My confidence has improved considerably and I’m optimistic that I may even be able to resume more physical activities in the near future.’

Knee of little faith #01

It’s happened. After merely a few days of setting my (annual) New Year’s resolution of ‘don’t get injured’, I appear to have fallen at the first hurdle. Not literally thankfully – that could be messy – but I’m certainly not in one happy piece. 2015 is set to be my biggest athletic year to date with, at the very least, 2 marathons, a half Ironman and full Ironman, so, naturally, I panicked that the Ironman dream was over.

I am suffering with, what felt like, a twisted left knee; discomfort around the inside base of the knee, but only whilst I am running. The initial cause is unknown, although it may have had something to do with my last pre-Christmas 35 mile run. Weeks of no running and rest, since then, have yet to alleviate the problem, or my bad mood. However, a miracle, in the form of a friend’s advice, saw me booking an appointment with local physio, John Stephenson.

After performing a few one leg squats on both sides, John identified that there was indeed a difference between my two legs; notably that my hip was dropping on my left, but not my right. He explained that this was due to the nerve paths on my left side, specifically the four lumber spine nerves that innervate muscles in my leg and foot. John individually tested each lumber spin nerve path (L1-4) on both my left and right sides, at various points on the leg, via the application of force manipulations (i.e. pushing against my knee in a particular orientation and telling me to push back), and then assess the corresponding strength of my response. Of course, the strength of my right side passed with flying colours, but John identified that my L2 and L4 responses (namely my knee and toe extension) were very weak on my left hand side, including a very unresponsive duff big toe.

Although the anatomical explanations involved are rather confusing, one target of John’s fix is to remove the tightness in the muscles at the base of my back, where these nerve paths originate. This will then hopefully begin to remove the tendency of my knee to bend in during my runs. For now, my homework is a simple exercise (split squats), as well as booking up a few follow-up physio treatments.

Safe to say, I am feeling much more confident, after hearing John’s diagnosis and expertise, that the future won’t be limited to deep heat and ‘rest’. More importantly, Operation Ironman is still very much go-go-go. Consider my resolution reaffirmed.

Physio for knee problem #02

I returned to John for my third physio session this week and we continued to explore the causes and effects of my postural imbalance.

In the week I had been returning to the gym and found that, whilst there have been dramatic and notable improvements in my squat, which had been fairly reduced before, I was still having difficulty at the very extremes of my movement. I found that, when rowing for example, I was able to achieve a very “tucked up’ position only after easing my knee into the posture over a period of about 30 seconds.

I had also been biking, partly on John’s recommendation, as this allows fluid to flow around the knee and promotes recovery. I am finding cycling to be fine, with no real discomfort except upon extreme hills – which I am still avoiding for this reason. Occasionally I experience stiffness the next day but this is only equivalent to what I experience when sat stationary for an hour or two.
Once again John performed some manipulations, this time on my neck. This was both an alarming and enjoyable procedure; I’ve never heard my neck make so many cracks before, yet I felt as though a lot of built up tension had been released. This too had a remarkable and instantaneous effect upon my flexibility.

Towards the end of the session we practised walking and running. It seems that, due to the muscular imbalance in my body, I over-rely upon my IT band for walking and thus my hip rotates forwards. I was shown how to become aware of this and told to practise on an ergo-rower, treadmill or when walking and running.

Physio for Knee Problem #01

I first came to see John three weeks ago after damaging my knee. The injury was caused, about a fortnight beforehand, by performing the (slightly ridiculous) task of standing up with a friend on my shoulders whilst on the side of a fairly steep slope; as I stood up I felt something lock and, as soon as I had put my friend back onto the floor, I felt a painful ‘ping’ inside my knee.

The day after I had sustained my injury I could barely walk, I limped up and down stairs and generally avoided putting any weight onto the leg. The knee had swollen and was fairly painful to the touch, causing movements or weight-bearing to be difficult. Thankfully, at first, the swelling seemed to reduce with each passing day and the pain involved in using the joint subsided with it. This lasted for around a week at which point my recovery seemed to stall and I contacted John.

My first physio session was mainly focused on determining the cause of the pain and swelling: John spent a long time testing my flexibility and movement range, along with probing my knee for ligament damage. He said that, at first, he had suspected my ACL had been damaged due to the injury being caused whilst facing downhill on a slope, luckily this was not the case. By the end of the session John believe the cause was likely to be a twisting within the kneecap caused by muscle imbalance that had caused the fat pad to become upset and possibly to catch.

We ended the session by discussing “dynamic sitting”, a method of adjusting seated posture to relieve muscle tightness and fatigue that will hopefully correct my postural imbalances. I feel that this is particularly important to me as my job involves a large degree of “screen time”.

During my second session with John we continued to discuss my postural imbalances and to try and work through some of their causes, along with trying to mitigate against their effects. We worked through some tests to determine neural strength and found that, in many places, the muscle on the left side of my body had decreased mobility with respect to the right: particularly those associated with the L5 nerve root. John performed some manipulations on my back that seemed to immediately have a positive effect on these areas – I was able to raise my left leg an additional 10° from my attempt before the manipulation!

At the end of my second session we discussed dynamic sitting some more. I have now purchased a standalone keyboard and mouse that I am using to correct my posture whilst at a computer and it seems to be having a positive effect. We also discusses ” neural flossing ” and John set me some homework to investigate and try this.