Posts Tagged With: sports massage

On a quest to catch pearls of running wisdom … mingling with the stars and the onset of maranoia.

Digested read: time is running out now.  Mistakes are being made. Went to Nicky Spinks talk. Sigh, she is such a legend, that helped me believe (temporarily) that of course I can run a marathon.  Had a sports massage.  Ouch. That made me lose some training and with it confidence in myself that I can do this thing. Then I read a book and tapped into support from friends and got some motivational running bling, and well, who knows?  I’m beginning to think the actual marathon will be the easy bit, if I make it to the start, it’s all these mind games and faffing about in advance that is the real challenge.  Oh well, I am where I am, and only time will tell how this will  unfold. Did you know there is an alternative definition for maranoia by the way?  See if you can work it out for yourself!

I’ve contracted maranoia now.  I’m becoming so risk averse it’s a miracle I can even venture out of the house.  My London marathon virtual running buddies (there’s a group of us spread around the UK who met at a London running weekend and now share a Facebook group) seem to be similarly suffering.  Whatever the scope of our London marathon training programmes to date, as the countdown to London seems to be speeding up, so too our individual and collective anxiety seems to be increasing.

As I understand it, with about 4 or 5 weeks to go, you probably can’t do all that much to increase fitness in the time remaining, but there’s plenty of time to jeopardise everything through injury, illness or an over or under enthusiastic taper.  Of course I don’t feel I’ve done enough training.  Constantly rubbish weather has really not helped, I’m so over snow now, can’t believe there was ever a time when I enjoyed the beauteous novelty of it all.  The point is, I can’t change what’s happened up until this point, so instead I’m becoming totally obsessed with controlling those things I can. With this in mind, I’ve reluctantly pulled out of a Smiley mass trip to take part in a running event in the Lakes the week before London.  A mass cohort of us went to the lakes over the summer, and that was epic taking on both Helvellyn and a route round Ullswater.  At the time of booking I was thinking it might be good to hang out with Smilies whilst tapering, and a 10k is modest enough to keep the legs moving.  Now though, I’m fearful of falling on unfamiliar ground, but more so, the thought of two sleepless nights in a dorm, and not being able to control what I eat and drink and I think it’s just not worth it.   This London Marathon is a once in a lifetime opportunity, being a Smiley is a permanent state.  Not just for Christmas, but for life indeed.  It’s like joining a (hopefully) benign cult.  Once touched by its embrace, you can never leave.  I was a bit sad about pulling out of the Lakes, I may have got something in my eye whilst typing the email cancellation note out – but having seen some photos of the terrain it does look gorgeous but treacherous.  Those are ankle breaking stones I’d say.  Normally love a good trail run, but not with this timing.  Also, part of the route is known as The coffin trail.  Not a moniker that instils a runner with confidence about taking on the path with vigour…  Having made the decision, I actually feel quite relieved, so that means it must be the right thing for me anyway.  Looks lovely though doesn’t it?  Fortunately there is always next year…


I’m also seeking advice from all over the place.   I don’t know if this is actually helpful.  The problem is a lot of advice is contradictory or relates to faster, fitter runners with different goals.  There is also a huge temptation to just keep asking loads of different people what they think I should do until I land on the person who tells me what I want to hear.  Maybe that’s what we all seek ultimately, some external validation of our thoughts and experiences.  Fragile creatures aren’t we?

Anyway, in the spirit of advice seeking, and also finding things to do which might help my running without actually having to put myself to the trouble or unpleasantness of actually running, I got wind of the chance to go to a talk by the living legend that is Nicky Spinks. She of the double Bob Graham challenge.  Hosted by Kim Baxter physiotherapy it had the promising title of ‘how to stay injury free and run further with Nicky Spinks‘  The blah de blah said:

Nicky Spinks is a British long distance runner, specialising in fell running, who set women’s records for the major fell running challenges the Ramsay Round, the Paddy Buckley Round and the Bob Graham Round. She is the holder of the overall record for the double Bob Graham Round.

She returns to talk for the third time due to popular demand. This time her talks takes on a new theme and focus – she will be giving you her best tips and advice on how to run longer distances and train for ultra marathons whilst staying injury free.

A great informative informal evening for those who like to run, thinking of upping their distance or for those who just want to be inspired!

Nicky left us truly inspired last time, and we cant wait to see and listen to her again.

Though frankly she could talk about anything at all, just to be present within her orbit would surely be enough to gain endurance by association?  She exudes such straightforward positivity that I reckon it would just radiate outwards from her and so anyone in her vicinity would benefit.  Unless you were wearing lead underwear that prevented the rays from reaching you I suppose.  Lead underwear is more a diving thing than a running thing though, so I reckoned it’s be ok.

I stomped up to the venue which is up Ecclesall Road.  I’d forgotten just how long that road is.  I mean it’s only about a two-mile walk from where I live, but what a trudge.  It occurred to me that I’m going to have to run up this route – and back down again – in a couple of weeks time for the Sheffield half.  I loved the Sheffield Half marathon when I ran it two years ago, but for the life of me I was struggling to remember why that was as I walked upwards and onwards.  Hope I feel a bit livelier on the day.

A fellow smiley had prompted me to go, and got a ticket for me.  She rang me as I was making my way up, and said I just needed to mention her name to gain entry.  I joked that I was rather hoping that mentioning her name and mine too would lead to a plush red carpet being rolled out and a glass of chilled champagne being pressed into my hand.  Oh how we laughed.

So I arrived at the place up at Parkhead shops (entry round the back) and gave my name and… guess what!  No really, guess.

That’s right! We were indeed given a glass of prosecco on arrival.  This was great news.  It’s the first drink I’ve had in months too, I’ve been completely abstemious during training.  I wasn’t about to turn that down though, and it went straight to my head, I’ve got a low tolerance to alcohol anyway, but the benefit of that is just a single prosecco  bubble up my nose and my body thinks it’s an instant party.  The downside of this is that I crash and burn quite quickly, but then again, no hangovers.  It was great arriving, an intimate sort of space, nicely set out and welcoming, and the place was packed out with people I knew.  People from woodrun, people from Smilies, people from parkrun. This is most excellent.  I saw some I’d hardly seen all winter the weather has been so grim, so it was good to catch up on people’s running goals.  A fair few are taking on the Sheffield half.

Eventually, we were called to order and Nicky was given the stage. I’ve seen her Double Bob Graham film ‘Run Forever’ before, and heard her speak before as well, but I enjoyed this event the most. It was very informal, and Nicky (yes, I feel we are on first name terms now) comes across as very genuine and ‘grounded’.  Her physical achievements and mental fortitude are astonishing, but even so, she admitted to at times being intimidated by other people’s strava records, and harbouring self-doubt.

There are too many points to summarise, but a few things stood out for me/  For example,  how relatively low her mileage was given the ultra challenges she takes on. Hence, train smarter not longer seems a wise mantra.  On an easy week she might just be doing 24 miles, up to say 45-50 on a hard week (though of course she is working from a base line of phenomenal endurance and experience already banked).  Some things sounded like common sense when she said them out loud, even though they went against some accepted wisdom.  I’m thinking of her observation that you should train to what your body needs and responds to and not just blindly do things because a training plan says you should even though you are exhausted and your body is crying out for a break.  She also tends not to ever do three hard weeks in a row (lots of training plans advocate three tough weeks, then pull back for the fourth).  She showed us some of her plans, and indeed it was true, only ever two or three at a push hard training weeks consecutively.

She told us that ultra marathon running is more an eating contest than a running one.  She recommended learning to eat at weird times, sharing how a breakthrough moment in her training programme was waking up in the middle of the night and feeling peckish. Result, her body was getting used to shoveling down food in the small hours. Staying awake all night and dealing with sleep deprivation goes with the territory of being a farmer, she seemed to be able to cope with that with at least resignation if not enthusiasm.  The main thing though that I got from her talk was a sense that you don’t know your limits unless you try things, and you shouldn’t assume things are impossible from the outset.

It astonishes me really, that you can come away thinking you can do anything after a talk from Nicky Spinks because she is clearly super human.  However, there was something in her demeanour that made the likes of me believe that there is certainly no harm in giving things a try.  When it comes to covering distance, you might surprise yourself with your endurance potential.  You don’t have to train insane distances, you don’t have to slavishly follow programmes that don’t work for you, but you do have to have an inner quiet tenacity and for endurance at least, a team to support you.

Inevitably, there was a fleeting moment of disillusion.  I’ve always been particularly impressed with her ability to down chips and curry sauce mid the double Bob Graham round.  Alas, today she revealed the devastating news that she is apparently ‘known’ for being sick on her runs!  Turns out it’s not just an eating competition, eating is only the first part of the dual challenge, you have to keep it down afterwards for long enough to gain some nutritional benefit, the initial ingestion is just the start.  She went on to explain that initially this used to bother her, now she’s learnt to just have a little gander at what’s come back, and from that revise her nutrition planning according to what may now need replenishing!  I’m never sick, well, hardly ever, consequently I don’t think I could be that laid back about the whole thing, but good to know that there are strategies to be deployed should the situation arise.

The talk went quickly, and afterwards, a few of  us shamelessly asked for a photo.  In my defence, I thought we were all supposed to be doing The Cabaret Pose, I hadn’t understood the whole thing was a set up.  Oh well.  At least I have a celebrity picture.  I still have a gap where I want one with Jessica Ennis, (oh the photo that got away) but what with this of Nicky Spinks and the one of us Smilies with Paul Sinton-Hewitt I’m doing OK.

hanging out with the great and good nicky spinks

We left bubbling over with enthusiasm about the talk and feeling inspired.  Somebody, I can’t remember who, said ‘she’s the sort of person you just want to go up to and say please let me be your friend‘. I know what they meant.  However, I’d be happy just to follow her around gazing on her from afar, and being allowed the honour of passing her her sick bag for review when the occasion required it.

Despite being inspired to do loads of ultra-runs in future, clearly it is tremendously important to pace myself properly, so I availed myself of a lift home.  Tomorrow is another day after all..

One consequence of going to this talk, was that everyone who attended got a voucher towards either a physio session or a sports massage.  I’ve been wondering about getting a sports massage pre the marathon, so took the opportunity to sign up for one the following Monday.  I did check first that I’d still be able to run the next day.

Well, I duly went for the massage.  There were good points to this, the high point being when I asked the physio if she could feel anything untoward in my legs.  I don’t think there is anything, though my calves are really tight, I’m not aware of anything sinister.  Well dear reader she just said – unprompted – ‘no they’re fine, they just feel like runner’s legs‘.  Get in!  Get me and my ‘runner’s legs’ not a label I ever expected one of my body parts to be prefixed with.  This was very exciting indeed.   It also turned out that she’d done the London marathon herself, so loads of me downloading everything in her brain to learn from her experience.  Fortunately, she was massively positive about the whole thing, and about my capacity to complete it – albeit based only on what I said about my preparation, and really who knows until they do it.

Then the actual massage.  The thing is, I’ve not really had one before, not a full one hour massage.  I’m sure it was ultimately beneficial, but oh my it was like doing a legs workout.  I expected to feel it a bit at the time, and to be a bit spacey in the evening afterwards. What I hadn’t expected, was to feel completely wiped out for the next two days.  I was supposed to be doing a long run, but I just didn’t feel my legs had it in them, and reasoned it would be foolish to head out if I was in trouble just walking around the house.  It took a few days for them to settle.  So frustrating.  I can’t regret the massage entirely, because it was reassuring that there are no niggles there, and probably the deep tissue massage did make them loosen up a bit by the end of the week.  However, I am most definitely not taking the chance of having another one between now and London.  I hope it wasn’t a mistake, it has cost me one long run, but then again it’s done now.  I suppose if I was used to having them regularly then it might be different.  Oh well, not being able to tolerate them will save me a fortune in my future ultra running career.


I tried to keep my running spirits up by reading inspirational literature, and by sharing needy messages to my London marathon superstars Facebook friends.  Interestingly, a lot of us seem to be struggling this week with cumulative fatigue and drop in confidence.  The end is so near yet so far I suppose.   The thing is, I look at all they’ve done and its ‘easy’ for me to see that for them, of course they are exhausted, they’ve trained really hard, they’ll be fine after they’ve tapered.  I on the other hand, well, obviously my fatigue is entirely different.  In my case it’s my body saying best not bother, I’m way out of my depth and this is not ‘fatigue’ it is my body actually disintegrating in protest in a last-ditch attempt to thwart my intention to get to the start of London Marathon.  It will do whatever it takes to prevent me joining the line up.  It’ll probably find a way to hide my photo id if I make it as far as the expo, no photo ID no race number.  The pre-registration email instructions are adamant on this point.  I need to watch out…

Happily I got this book in the post the same day I had the sports massage.

running the smoke

It was recommended to me as something of an emotional read.  I don’t know what I was expecting quite.  I mean the accounts are impressive, but honestly, I didn’t find them all that relatable. I was explaining this to a fellow Smiley ‘the thing is, I just can’t directly identify with the woman recounting how she felt after winning London‘,  ‘well of course you can’t!  she quipped back ‘you haven’t run it and won it yet so you can’t know!’  Good point well made.  Joking apart though, I was hoping for less heroic recovery stories, and more, well middle-aged women, who’d come to running late who were just going to give it their best shot to find out if they could get round and then they found out they could and they did.  The stories were amazing, how these people overcame adversity of the most extreme situations imaginable (surviving genocide, losing your hands and feet to frost bite and/or terrorist attacks) to get to London, but it catapulted the tales into the ‘extraordinary’ category,  we are not sharing the experiences of mere mortals in this  compendium of collective London marathon experiences.  Hang on – here’s some of the blah de blah:

Running the Smoke tells the story of what it’s like to take part in the London Marathon in the most enlightening and enriching way possible: from the perspectives of twenty-six different runners who have been there and done it. Michael McEwan delves to the heart of these runners’ stories, discovering their reasons for running and revealing the drive that has seen them cross the finishing line. From global superstars Sir Steve Redgrave and Michael Lynagh to legends in the running world such as Liz McColgan and Dick Beardlsey, from fun-runners like Lloyd Scott who ran the 2002 race in a deep-sea diving suit, to heroes of a different kind in multiple amputee Jamie Andrew, 7/7 terrorist attack survivor Jill Tyrrell, or Sadie Phillips who has twice defeated cervical cancer, Running the Smoke lifts the lid on an array astonishing stories that are often heart-breaking, always heart-warming – and endlessly inspirational.

See what I mean?  Just to be clear, running in a diving suit doesn’t sound like a ‘fun run’ to me either, and Lloyd Scott who did this, was actually a professional footballer at one point, so not really starting off with a C25K (Couch to five k) fitness baseline.

lloyd scott marathon

Impressive yes, but not an account that helps me believe I could do that too.  I’m going to put it out there and say that I’m confident I most definitely couldn’t.  Some challenges cannot be achieved by positive thinking alone.  Fact.  Consequently, right now I want to hear stories from the more seemingly mundane end of the spectrum of human experience.  Of the apparently ordinary people, who stepped out of their comfort zone and found they could take on London too.  People who might actually make me believe I have the capacity within me to get round also.  I think it’s still an achievement to get round even if you didn’t have to triumph over adversity to get to the start line.  Plus, actually, I believe that most people have their own remarkable stories that might not be quite so immediately headline grabbing, but are truly inspirational nevertheless.  Everyone I know who runs, runs for a reason.  The book also has a strong focus on elite athletes, again, their achievements are impressive but way out of my league in terms of providing personal inspiration.

The book also has a disappointingly high proportion of accounts from  men, it’s not that I’m not interested in their stories, but it wasn’t very inclusive, and I need to hear women’s voices right now. It made me wonder what the gender split is for London.  I asked Google and haven’t tried that hard to research it, but it seems there is most definitely a majority of men who take part, around two thirds of marathon runners are male according to this Guardian report from 2015.  I think it’s shifting though, interestingly, there is a suggestion that women do better with endurance events – though that may be they are less likely to take them on unless they’ve trained adequately in advance.   I think only five or so of the 26 runners stories were from women, not very inclusive.  Having said that, it did make me want to get there. It also made me want to redress this imbalance.  I wonder if I could somehow gather together all the women I know who have run marathons, and get their stories.  Most people I know who run, run for a reason, some are indeed amazing athletes, but others have achieved great things through sheer bloody minded tenacity.  Juggling running goals alongside a myriad of other practical demands (work, family, physical and mental health) and physical as well as mental challenges.  Those are the stories I want to hear and share. We should celebrate the achievements of those within our own running communities, there is just as much tears, tenacity, triumph and talent closer to home as further afield.

I also note increasingly how runners, well, the women I know anyway, support one another hugely, we are back to external validation perhaps?  I have found I really need people around who tell me this is achievable for me.  I don’t care if they are crossing their fingers behind their backs as they say so, I need to hear this.   Thank you everyone, from the bottom of my heart who has not laughed in my face when I have outed myself as attempting to tackle this, and more thanks a-plenty to those who’ve nurtured me along the way.   Running a marathon isn’t as much of a solo endeavour as you might think.  Maybe on the course, but getting to the start, that’s a different thing altogether.  For me, training for this marathon has been contradictory.  In some ways it is by its very nature isolating, especially if like me you can’t find a runner of a similar pace to train with, and ultimately, only I can get out the door and do the training runs myself.  On the other hand, I’ve been astonished by the generous support, advice and encouragement others have freely offered up.  It is an amazing thing this marathon voyage, it seems so many of the clichés are true.  It is indeed a journey.  It will be an emotional roller coaster, and yes, I will probably cry all the way round. That’s the annoying thing about clichés though, they become clichés for a reason, because they do reference common truths.  Oh well.  I’m happy to embrace any number of clichés or motivational phrases if that’s what is needed to get me round!

believed she could

Speaking of which, a gift came in the post from one of my London marathon superstar buddies, and it gave me a fantastic and timely lift.  I won’t be running London alone at all, I’ll have my running buddy with me every step of the way!

support every step of the way

Not long now.  I need to channel all the positivity I can.  Guess I have to train my mind to be positive as much as train my body to keep moving forward.  In the meantime, I leave you with some alternative definitions of maranoia.  Maranoa is also a region of south-west Queensland in Australia. That could get confusing, they don’t seem to have a running club there.  Coincidence?  I think we all know otherwise.


You’re welcome.

Counting down now, counting down.



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Physio, physio, let’s get physio, let me hear your body talk la la la ….

So my body today was talking Oompa Loompa or possibly Jumbly (as in one of The Jumblies) and it was saying it would quite like to follow up on getting that physio check up that I flirted with having after the run on Sunday.Jumblies

This particular choice of fictional characters (I don’t think either really appeared first in  documentaries, but you can never quite tell these days) is because of my wardrobe choices.  I was ridiculously nervous about going to see a physiotherapist, and didn’t know what to wear.  He might need access to all (relevant) areas, and I’d need to be mobile, so sports kit required.  I only have a limited repertoire of running gear (you may already have noticed that, I have to concede not all the photos in this blog were taken on the same day, but they do have a strangely familiar look to them I know), and most of that is now in the wash, following five consecutive days of running/ exercise classes.  Rummaging around I pull out some Ronhill shorts and a matching top.  These are very comfortable to wear, but sadly look a bit shite.  They are exceedingly purple and green, and the shorts/short-sleeve top combo rather accentuates (not in a good way) my apple shape.  I definitely look like a cross between an Oompa Loompa and a Jumbly, sort of like the bastard child of an unseemly coupling.  That was my suspicion anyway when I glanced in the mirror on exiting the house, and this insight was confirmed to me with photographic evidence later in the day.  Still, I’m jumping ahead of myself  I decided I’d just have to hope that the physiotherapist was sufficiently professional to pretend not to notice.  Hopefully he will have seen worse, or if he hasn’t, not let on.

I’ve never seen a physio before  – well not strictly true, I did see an amazing physio who helped me get  my wrist mobile again in the aftermath of  a really nasty ferret attack (no really, but another story), and a really terrible one after I broke my knee as well – what I really mean, is that  I haven’t seen a physiotherapist other than in the context of a really specific injury, so wasn’t sure what to expect from yesterday’s appointment.

I phoned the clinic first thing, and found out they did actually have a free appointment the same day, I asked how to prepare, and was told that in an introductory appointment they’ll take a basic history and look at any immediate concerns that might be bothering me.  It turned out that  I had a couple of hours free to think about all my many biomechanical concerns. This is basically a licence for complete hypochondria.  There is of course the immediate worry around the numbness in my leg; but I find once I get going with thinking about all those niggles that I’ve always wondered if I should get checked out, I probably would need a week long residential consultation to get through it  rather than the 30 minute slot actually available.  My mind rushes from ailment to ailment.  Should I mention that I have that weird asymmetrical toe-turning in gait thing I do, which I think contributes to me falling over whenever I start to tire running?  I’ll have to explain about my hobbit feet and arthritis obviously, but I’d also love to know if my range of movement in my shoulder is normal.  It’s never felt the same since I fell off a horse a few months ago, and I can only sleep on one side these days because of it.

Being invited to contemplate my physiological frailties also induces a heightened level of paranoia about my body’s inadequacies.  Frankly, when I come to think about it, I can’t fathom how I manage to potter about my flat in safety, let alone leave the house to voluntarily engage in physical activity of any kind.  I am now thinking that the question I really, really want to ask  is: ‘will my body disintegrate on impact as my foot hits the ground whilst out running one day?‘ that’s what it feels like sometimes – is that usual?

hobbit feet

I aimed to arrive a few minutes early, but when I did, the shop was actually shut.  It doesn’t open until 2.00 on a Monday, which is my appointment time.  So I waited outside and the physiotherapist arrived also. He looked a bit taken aback, that I’d reappeared so soon.  Does he think I’m stalking him? I was clutching my scrunched up piece of paper with the discount code and looking oompa-loompa like and self-conscious – perhaps it’s that look that made him start rather than me as such – you know the phrase ‘she looked a fright’?  Well, perhaps I startled him.

The shop proprietor came charging back from the post office up the road, and let us in.  I asked to use the loo, which is, for the record, very swanky indeed.  A huge basket of coloured towels and a large selection of trail running magazines catch my eye.  It is also massive (the room, not eh toilet as such). I could have kept myself occupied in there for ages, the only negative bit of feedback, would be that the mirror has clearly been put up by some sort of long legged running giant.  It is so high up on the wall, that I can only see my eyebrows in it, no chance of checking for spinach between my teeth let alone noting and correcting any wardrobe issues.  I wonder what it would be like to live at that altitude as your normal point of reference, how strange the world must seem…

So, onto the consultation, I take off my over-trousers and reveal my jumbly outfit and pale little hairy legs.  I think too late that maybe I should have epilated or depilated or dilapidated or whatever it is you are supposed to do to achieve smooth skinned perfection – before coming.  I can see little indentations in my knees where I fell over in the grit on Sunday, and my plate like feet with their uneven nails, arthritic swellings and battered post-run appearance are not the vision of loveliness that I might have wished for.  They don’t get seen in public very often, and for good reason.

I don’t know what the rules are regarding the sanctuary of the consultation room, we all know about client confidentiality, but I don’t know so much about practitioner confidentiality. I’ve only got positive things to say, but wouldn’t want to breach good manners by over-sharing.  Then again – who reads this, and my pact with me is to be honest in this blog, positive but honest.  So I’ll cover what I would like to know if someone was telling me about what to expect at their first sports physio appointment.  Angst ridden naivety and all.

In factual terms the consultation begins with a bit of a history, when I basically spout on about my many aches, pains concerns, previous breakages etc.  I acknowledge that there isn’t time to address everything, so we agree to focus on my ‘injury’ (numb leg) and peculiar gait.  I call it peculiar, he tactfully keeps rephrasing this in terms like  ‘your natural way of going’ or something equally non-judgemental.  He does quite well at keeping a straight face throughout to be honest.  Maybe he’s become slightly desensitised to the sorts of things that people tell him in the intimacy of being squashed together sat on a treatment table in a windowless room.  He struggled a bit when I told him that when I was very little (another true story) some doctor somewhere picked up on a problem with my feet, and for a couple of years I was made to wear my shoes on the wrong feet to straighten them out.  It was insanity in my view, akin to foot binding in China (actually not really no, that’s probably a bit insulting to those maimed by that practise, but you get the diea).  I’ve always wondered whether that was the cause of a lot of my problems later on (foot wise, not in relation to wider heartbreak or personal inadequacies).  However, even then, his professional loyalty kicked in and he said something diplomatic like ‘I think approaches have probably changed a bit since then, but it may have had some perceived merit at the time’. 

There was some diagnostic stretching of legs and pushing against him in various angles.  The numb leg thing is probably related to overuse (I know, I’ll take that as a badge of honour) and really I could help myself a lot by using a foam roller for stretching it out properly to sort of re-set.  For me though the most interesting thing was getting him to look at my feet and my gait.  He was professional enough not to laugh at my feet, and to describe them in factual terms, but he did a couple of tests that were fascinating to me.  One involved just standing on the floor in my bare feet (frankly I found even that quite hard if I thought about it too much) and then he just gently tried to lift my big toe upwards a bit.  It didn’t move.  Now, this isn’t surprising to me at all, since that is where I have the arthritis and my big toe joints  are  pretty much fused straight like they’ve been splinted.  I’ve never really been able to move that joint much, but what was astonishing, is that apparently this isn’t normal!  Most people can upwardly flex their big toe a bit, and this news was a complete revelation for me.  I’m longing to subtly bring the conversation around to this topic now with my friends, so I can get them to show me their amazingly mobile toe joints.  I couldn’t have been more astonished if he’d told me that everyone else in the whole world can rotate their head through 360 degrees and it’s only me that can’t.

The other party trick which he could perform, but I couldn’t do at all, and which I really hope you are all going to go away and try, involved a demonstration of flexibility in the calf (hamstrings I guess).  Basically, you just stand with your toe pointing at a wall, but a couple of inches away from it.  All you have to do is try and bend your knee forward over the toe to try and touch the wall.  You do one leg at a time, the other one you just have a bit further back, or you can have a go at doing it on one leg like I did when I got home, and see whether you tend to fall over sideways or forwards in the attempt.  If you are trying this at home, please do remember that I am not medically qualified, and nor am I necessarily very accurate in describing things, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t have a good laugh in the attempt even if there is no particular benefit or insight to be gained from you experimenting in this way.

The last part of the discussion involved me first walking, and then running on the shop treadmill, so the physio could film my gait on his mobile phone and then play it back to me.  He promised to delete it later, but I’m honestly not too worried about that, is there really an online fetish site that would be interested in such footage?  Even if there is, I don’t think my weird shuffles are going to get a lot of hits.  It was quite interesting/depressing to see how I walk/run.  I do turn my toes in quite a lot when I walk, but when I run I’m very much on my toes, which apparently might be what contributes to my tendency for calf pain, because of where the impact is taken.  I have to admit though that what dismayed me most was seeing the sideways shots.  Instead of filming just my feet, he’d got me from the waist down.  Not a flattering look, let’s just say I’ll never be able to wear my oompa loompa outfit again, not until I’ve lost about 2 stone of tummy fat anyway.

It is worth mentioning that at intervals, the door of the consultation room, which was a bit flimsy and didn’t really shut properly would be shoved open.  Once ajar, a wide eyed brindle coated dog would peer round politely.  I didn’t get the name of the dog, but it was just seeking companionship.  It obviously knew it wasn’t allowed in, but the temptation of knowing that there were two people behind the door while s/he was all alone on the other side was obviously too much to bear.  Hangdog expression doesn’t really cover it, the head only edged through hopefully, the physio got up each time and re-shut the door, leaving the dog outside.  However, as we were finishing our chat, sorry, ‘professional medical consultation’, we didn’t quite close the door properly ourselves.  Seeing his/her moment, the dog edged over the threshold.  Then did that ‘I know I’m invisible’  routine that dogs sometimes do.  Creeping stealthily around the perimeter of the room, body crouched low (great flexibility and strength too now I come to think of it)  before finally taking refuge under the treatment table and peering out at us pleadingly.  Such a very sweet dog, it seemed harsh to have to evict him/her all over again.  (The photo is not the actual dog by the way, just a ‘licensed for reuse’ one from bing search, but it’s sort of similar-ish)

brindle dog

So then that was that really.  I think the main message for me is that I do need to take stretching a bit more seriously, and that in terms of my way of going it is going to be hard to change that because I can’t fight my genetic inheritance.  He said he’d study the footage a bit more and look at emailing me some suitable exercises, and that I probably would benefit from a further appointment. This first one being more about diagnosis and discussion than commencing treatments as such.  The other message from the day was to keep my purple and green shorts and top combo for fancy dress parties rather than for going out running in public in future (he didn’t actually tell me that, I just worked that out by myself).  But I think I knew that already really, that’s why it was at the bottom of my wardrobe!

Seeing a physiotherapist did feel like a bit of an extravagance, but then again I am at an age where I think it is legitimate to invest in my longer term health, and I did feel like I got access to a knowledgeable professional with expertise that could definitely help me.  I came away reassured rather than transformed, but that was helpful in itself and a perfectly reasonable outcome from a 30 minute consultation.

Modesty, and lack of a phone with a camera feature, mean no selfies on this occasion.  However it was pretty much exactly like the image below:

L0034590 Japanese Scroll, techniques for Physiotherapy Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Japanese Scoll Watercolour 19th Century Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

L0034590 Japanese Scroll, techniques for Physiotherapy
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
Japanese Scoll
19th Century Published: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Categories: physiotherapy, running, sports massage | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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