The physical side of my rehab
There's been lots of talk in the media recently about the mental side of my rehab after breaking my Heel back in February; but not much of the physical side gets published, so I thought I would write a bit about it.
I originally had 2 screws put in to my Heel when it broke completely in to 2 pieces in South Korea and after returning to the UK, I found out there were lots of skin complications as well. I had to have another 4 operations and after my 5th surgery where I had a skin graft on the back of my Heel ( done by Jon Simmons), I started my rehab at Harris & Ross in Wilmslow. I was total non weight bearing for 10 weeks and I wasn't allowed to wear shoes until the 21st May (almost 4 months after the injury).
During the first 10 weeks, I was having lots of physio, working on my range of movement which was very painful as my foot had stiffened up a lot from being on crutches so long.
I was also struggling to sleep at night for the first 3 months as I had a trapped nerve in my foot from non weight bearing which was extremely painful at all times.
There wasn't much I could do in the gym at this point as I couldn't weight bear.
Once I was given the all clear to start weight bearing, the real rehab began. I have to say, it was very difficult and painful at the start and I was still using my crutches to help for around a month after.
If you have ever bruised a heel before...learning to walk again felt like walking on a bruised heel but 1000 times worse. It was agony. I had also lost most of my leg muscles making it even harder.
Whilst I was learning to walk again, I could also start training in the gym 5x a week, doing exercises such as bridges, leg extension, leg press and hamstring curls. I did this circuit until I could weight bear and by this point I was starting to get a lot stronger.
I continued to get stronger in the gym and eventually started to lift proper weights and my programme looked like this:
1. Single leg leg press
2. Trap bar dead lifts
3. Single leg leg extension
4. Rear foot elevated split squats
5. seated calf raise
I always start the gym session with movement control doing single leg work on a BOSU and calf raises (straight leg and bent leg).
At the end of June, I started doing single leg hops and at first this was very mentally challenging as I was scared it was going to be sore as I had been struggling with achilles pain. Every session I got better and better until I could start doing it on to a trampette.
Not long after this I had to go back a few steps and have another operation as some extra bone had grown in the shape of a hook on the side of my heel causing me lots of pain. Luckily I wasn't on crutches so I didn't really lose any strength and within a couple of weeks I was back to normal again.
I carried on my gym training and physio, now only around 3/4x a week and I continued to get stronger and stronger and at 7 months I tried running for the first time! I was however, still having pain when walking, running and doing any sort of calf exercise. My calf muscle was taking the longest to get back which was super annoying.
I tried Snowboarding to test it out but I was having lots of pain going on to my Toe edge so In the end I decided I needed to get the pain checked out and it turned out the screws in my heel were sticking out and digging into my Achilles, hence the pain I was experiencing.
I decided to have another operation to get the screws taken out so hopefully that would stop my pain! I am still recovering from that operation but already back to my normal strength in the gym and doing really well.
The physical side to my rehab has actually been ok and I've remained positive and focused throughout. I found it easy to put all my effort in to my training because I knew that every physio or leg session was one step closer to being able to walk properly again and now I'm at the stage where every session is a step closer to Snowboarding again, which keeps me hungry and determined to keep pushing through and working as hard as I can.
The team at Harris & Ross have been amazing throughout my rehab and I couldn’t have done it without them.
I'll make sure to keep you updated on the last part of my rehab :)
Katie O x