Bullet-Proof: Stories From Rehab

Half of the fun of training is getting hurt. The benefits of hurting yourself are threefold:

  • You get to tell a (hopefully) rad story about how you did it. Show scars/bruises/cuts/stitches/broken equipment for bonus points
  • You have months worth of excuses for poor performance
  • You have a get-out-of-jail free card for being lazy and sitting on the couch for at least 4 weeks (unless you’re this guy, who broke his leg and trained himself to walk around on his hands)

After you run out of Netflix series to binge-watch you’ll want to get better so you’ll need to take action eventually. I’ve normally been of the ‘it’ll hurt less eventually so let’s just get out there’ school. However, I’m lucky enough to have health benefits through my employer so for the very first time, after what is likely a dozen sprains on each ankle, I decided to pursue rehab. This is my story.

I’ll be chronicling my experiences with physiotherapy to try to repair years of ankle damage. I’ll take you through each visit to my physiotherapist to talk about her assessments, treatments and prescriptions for exercises. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. If you take my word for how to treat ankle sprains you’re dumb and deserve to hurt yourself further. Go see a doctor. If you can’t afford a doctor, Google someone else’s blog and follow their advice instead.

Today was visit one. She was very friendly (we realized we had met at a wedding over the summer) and was interested in my ankle-ruining life history, right from my very first sprain through to the most recent trip to ibuprofen-ville. Here’s how the visit went:

  • Watched me stand on either foot to assess my balance with eyes open and closed
  • Had me move my foot through each of the four major directions of movement
  • Did a physical examination to determine areas of stabbing feelings of pain
  • Did an assessment of strength through each direction of movement to assess neurological something something
  • Had me do a knee-over-toe test
  • Had me squat as deeply as I could without pain. I could get to a little higher than parallel. Normally I’m able to go ass to grass

Her general assessment was that, while both ankles were indeed sprained and needed rehabilitation, my left ankle was far worse. I wasn’t even able to move my knee forward past my toe at all.

She moved into forcing my ankles through a range of movement to get the joint moving, then attached me to some sort of electric machine with pads attached to both of my ankles. With the juice running, all of the muscles south of my knee would alternately spasm and release. She said this was to encourage blood flow to the injured areas. It was weird and awesome and I wanted to do it forever but my coverage probably wouldn’t allow that.

She left me with three exercises to do for a week then come back to see her and assess improvement. The exercises are:

  • Stretch each ankle forward to the pain boundary for sets of 10 on each side
  • Stand on one leg with my eyes closed for 30 seconds. If that got too easy I could stand on a pillow to increase muscle recruitment
  • Trace the alphabet with each foot while sitting

All in all it seems pretty easy to follow. I’ll update everyone after my next visit. I’m stoked to get this moving so I can start working on my eight month plan to get ready for the Bugs in August.

– Matt

***Again, I’m not a health professional. Feel free to correct me in the comments but please don’t take any of this as rehabilitation advice because it’s probably wrong and definitely not for you!***

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