This is the view at Manly this morning about 6am as I headed down for the Wednesday swim. Why would you live anywhere else. Not to much pain here.
Sorry, lets be serious. An inevitable part of a broken leg and attendant surgery followed by rehabilitation, is dealing with pain. How you cope with it physically and mentally will have a big effect on your recovery. The initial pain on the slopes will tell you you are injured. The pain following surgery tells you that you have had serious trauma to parts of your leg. The final pain you have to to deal with is that endured during the rehabilitation process. While we expect a broken leg to hurt, and it does, and we know surgery hurts, and it does, many, including myself, are not prepared for how much pain you endure during the mechanical exercise and gym work necessary for recovery. This goes on for a long, long time and can vary from eye-watering pain to an irritant dull ache. I’m at the irritant dull ache stage where my knee does not hurt except during particular exercises. But hey, this has only happened in the last week or so and I had surgery 7 months ago, so I’m not bragging.
Pain has occurred during rehab for all sorts of reasons eg shoulder pain from excessive use of wheelchair and crutches, pain in the foot from a plantar ligament strained during exercises, and the normal pain experienced during gym work trying to get atrophied muscles going again. A big source of pain for me in recent times has been stiffness and soreness in my right knee following the Jatbula Track hike. I’ve been back six weeks and the pain has only abated in the last week. This got so bad that I couldn’t walk to the ferry and I had to stop the gym work. As it has now improved I’ve climbed right back into the gym work.
THE STRENGTHENING PHASE BEGINS.
Belinda said that I’m now ready to start the third and final phase of my rehab program which is the strengthening work. She is only prepared to do this now because of the earlier exercise program and my recovery from the soreness after the Jatbula track hike. This was today’s program
This doesn’t look like much. It’s an exercise log I complete every time I visit the gym recording the exercises I do, the weight involved and the repetitions. Why is this important? If you have a good physiotherapist and personal trainer they will stress a graduated exercise rehabilitation program i.e. the exercise must be regular and must get gradually more difficult as your condition improves. More difficult means slightly heavier weights over time and also a greater number of repetitions of any particular exercise. However ,this has to be very closely monitored as the physiotherapist and personal trainer will be trying to push gently up against the physical and pain boundaries of what is possible without injuring the patient.
A classic example is buried in the table above. My trainer Belinda has been supervising me on the leg extension machine virtually since I started rehab. As she is conservative, I put both legs under the bar, lift the bar with both legs, then hold and slowly lower it using only my damaged leg. Above is a record of her first request for me to both raise and lower the bar with my bad leg. We tried this with 15 kg but it was too heavy and we dropped it back to 10 kg. The second major change is bench pressing 50 kg on the leg press machine. I started all those months ago with 5 kg and two legs. I’m now up to 50 kg and aiming for a final destination at 80 kg which is about my body weight. The important thing here is that as the weight of the leg press has increased the number of repetitions has decreased e.g. last week I did hundred reps at 30 kg and 60 reps at 40 kg and this week 20 reps at 50 kg (although I did repeat this 3 times with some breaks). As the weight goes up the repetitions in the first instance must go down.
Another significant milestone today was being able to test the deterioration in my right leg for the first time. On the leg extension machine I could raise and lower 15kg, with my injured leg. On my undamaged left leg, on the same machine, I could raise and lower 30kgs. My injured leg now has about 50% of the strength of the other leg.