AOI Part 3: The immediate aftermath
Useful definitions: RICE - rest, ice, compress, elevate
The words of my Physio and friend Laura have followed me around for the last few weeks...
”It’s amazing how quickly things get better if you actually do the things you’re meant to do.”
And she’s quite right. When I did in my Achilles last year I left it two weeks after the West Highland Way to ask her for help. TWO WEEKS! Two weeks in which I continued to run on it and hope things would magically feel better soon. About as un-mindful as you can get.
This time was very different. As soon as I went down on my ankle, my running group rushed to support me, I quickly had my ankle on ice, compressed and elevated and was heading to hospital. Yes it was a long wait but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. In fact, the wait itself meant forced rest and elevation for a good 7 hours in which time the swelling reached its peak and started to go down again. We’ll call the injury Day 0.
Ankle completely rested as often as possible. I found that I was exhausted and ravenous, from the shock, the late night at Kings hospital and my body’s efforts to heal. I ate and lay down and ate and lay down and ate and watched Netflix. Day 1 was pretty fun to be honest. Lots of RICEing.
Starting to get a little antsy but still enjoying the rest. After testing out putting weight on my ankle, I started walking on it around the house, very cautiously without pain. It’s important to get your ankle back in action as the healing process stiffens the area. You need to start using it as normally as possible as early as is appropriate for you - all sprains differ. Made an appointment with my sports masseuse and plans to see my Physio. Lots of RICEing
Cabin fever sets in. Walking around the house with growing confidence, went for a short walk outside in the afternoon. OH THE JOYS OF FRESH AIR. Cautious but testing myself to see what I could comfortably deal with. Light calf stretching. Lots of RICEing.
My Physio’s comment at the start of this post? Because I looked after myself in the first three days and was in pretty good shape by the time I saw her. I’d already seen my sports masseuse, was walking on my ankle with relative confidence and doing some strengthening exercises that I’d found on YouTube with my resistance bands.
What was the difference between the achilles injury and spraining my ankle?
Respect for my body
That last one is key. I put my body first, it was telling me what it needed and I listened. During these days I doubled down on mindfulness meditations, staying in the moment to help me best deal with the issue at hand and quickly move through anxieties about my running.
These days were by no means perfect - I spent more time than I am proud of wallowing in self pity and catastrophising. But the difference in a year was remarkable and it set me up for a strong and healthy recovery.