‘Cross diary 7: I seek professional help

November 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Posted in cycling | Leave a comment
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Well, I’m still injured. What to do? Not much point going to the doctor: to paraphrase @euanlindsay on twitter recently, they ask you if you exercise, then tell you to stop if you say yes, and start if you say no.

Complementary medicine? I had acupuncture (on the NHS!) for tennis elbow a couple of times. The male physio had green eyes and the longest, blackest eyelashes. They distracted me from the searing pain of the needles. My elbow continued to hurt. Until I got some cortisone shots, that is.

Despite being gullible, oversensitive, hypochondriac and Of A Nervous Disposition, I have reluctantly concluded that I’m just not suggestible enough for alternative therapies. Reiki doesn’t work on me. I feel nothing in Qi Gong. Even Derren Brown can’t pin me to my seat, or make me think of the right number. Once, when my osteopath was on holiday, I visited a chiropractor in desperation. She held what looked like a staple gun to my neck. I said, do I have to believe in it for it to work? She smiled tolerantly, muttered about being non-invasive, and squeezed the trigger. Of course, it didn’t.

Hold on! you cry. How can you diss CAM, when you go to the osteopath? And it’s true; I love osteopathy. Crucially, it works, whether you believe in it or not. You walk in like a Thunderbird; a few intense hugs and a couple of terrifying cracks later, you can move. It’s like magic. I never managed to get an osteopath to explain to me what they actually do; they mumble something about ‘releasing pressure’, and try to start an argument about whether running is a proper sport like tennis instead, to distract you. I lie on the table, close my eyes, and visualise my vertebrae clicking into place like Lego blocks. Who knows; it’s probably his knuckles I can hear, not my back. But it works.

But osteopaths don’t see ankles as part of their remit, in general. (Mine said drily to me, ‘I don’t really like feet.’) So I threw caution to the wind and made a physio appointment.

I’ve not had much luck with physios in the past, either, even the ones who say they specialise in sports injuries. I’ve always been suspicious that, while I was diligently doing heel raises on the stairs, and trying to watch telly sideways while lying on the floor with my legs up on a fitness ball, the dodgy ankle/ heel/ foot just got better on its own. The last time I went, with an arch strain, the recommended-by-several-people physio palmed me off on her subordinate. He gave me ultrasound, and complimented me slightly worryingly on my leg length, while I was spatchcocked on the table. I figured I could put my foot on the photocopier at work instead and save myself the thirty quid, so I didn’t go back.

Trigger point therapy helped me that time. I sit at work and vigorously rub the back of one calf with the opposite knee. It hurts, and looks a bit Vic Reeves, and I try to keep the gurning to a minimum, because there is a window in my office door, but it was what finally sorted out the arch problem. Unless it just got better on its own, of course.

So, my new physio. It’s promising at the moment, like the beginning of an affair, where you’re still finding each other fascinating. She’s treating me like some kind of exotic puzzle. She murmurs to herself, Mmm, slight forward lean, tibial torsion, and runs her cool thumb up my calf. I am bathed in hope. I lie on the floor in the kitchen and my sons silently watch me trying to persuade the correct gluteal to work. My ankle is improving: I run, cautiously, across the road, and feel fine. I turn my ankles in, 15 reps, turn them out, 15 reps. Maybe this is the answer; like when the long-lashed physio with the hopeless acupuncture knew why I had pain over my iliac crests when I ran, and taught me a simple stretch which solved it instantly.

Or maybe it’s just getting better on its own.

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