I have now fully settled into the rehab routine. It’s kind of like the routine I get into during the season with getting up and going skiing before going to the gym, except now I get up and go to the gym... and then go to the gym again. I’ve spent 6 weeks in the IRU now, so much so that the chef has my breakfast ready for me every morning before I even arrive!
My day starts at 8am with my mobility session which is 3 series of 5 exercises to help my knee’s extension and flexion. Despite my full flexion and extension having completely returned it’s still important to maintain it. My mobility takes me about half an hour and I will then ice my knee for 15 minutes which takes me up to 9am which is when I head to the gym!
First up is a physiology session. I’ve never had the chance to do any physiology testing before but whilst I’m in the IRU in Bisham, Luke, the physiologist, has been monitoring me very closely! This includes my sleeping patterns, hydration levels and lactate production. In order to create a program that works me to the right level we tested my maximum power capacity on the bike and also my endurance capacity. From this data Luke works out at which power and heart rate I should be working for my maximum benefit. Whilst I’m on the bike he even takes blood samples to test my lactate and check that I’m working hard enough! I’m on the bike 5-6 days a week. For those of you that know me, and my love of cycling (not!), will be surprised to hear that I am actually really starting to enjoy spending time on the bike and I have therefore invested in my own road bike!
After my fitness session I have soft tissue therapy. Cass, is the soft tissue therapist and she makes sure that all the soft tissue in my legs is moving as it should be. At the moment we’re working on my scars to make sure they don’t go all hard and lumpy; this means Cass gets to dig a curved metal tool into my scars to smooth them out, this was pretty painful before my scars fully healed.
Once I’m all loosened up I will either see Sarah the psychologist, who I see twice a week, or Wendy the nutritionist, that I see once a week. Sarah has been great at finding techniques to help me through my injury but also to help me when I’m back on skis. There are so many things that I can take from my rehab to my skis. She is also brilliant at helping me see the positive side to everything – the first time I met her she told me that every situation is neutral, you decide whether it is positive or negative and I try to remember that! Wendy makes sure that I’m eating everything I should be to help my knee and my training. I have started taking some vitamins and collagen to help with my knee heal. I also now have a better understanding of the amount of protein that my body requires for the amount of training I do! Building muscle is a huge part of rehab and it’ s important to understand what my body needs to be able to do this.
During my lunch break I refuel for my afternoon and I also re-ice my knee and do my mobility session again. It’s also a nice time to relax for a while, and of course keep up to date with Bethan, who works at the reception and does an amazing job keeping everything in the IRU in check!
After lunch I head into physio with Andy. First up he always checks that I still have my full leg extension and that there is no pain or swelling in my knee. At the beginning of my rehab process Andy was vital in helping me get my mobility back but now it’s more a case of making sure all the small bits around my knee are exactly as they should be. This means lots of poking, prodding and massaging. He flushes out any swelling that may be in my joint and also stretches all my muscles.
My progress is also closely followed by the doctor who is on site one day a week and is always available to check in with if I have any issues. It is so reassuring to always have someone watching my knee and I know that I’m in excellent hands.
Finally, my day finishes with one of the most important sessions and one that I am definitely enjoying more and more every day: my strength and conditioning session! Fionn has been the S&C coach for the last 7 weeks of my rehab. We do so many different exercises in the gym that it’s hard to explain a standard session but at the moment we are focusing on rebuilding my hamstring in my injured leg. I lost 3 cm of muscle in my leg after my operation but I started rebuilding my quad straight away and now I almost have two matching quad muscles. However due to a piece of my hamstring being removed for the operation I had to wait 6 weeks before I could work my hamstring again, before this it was just too painful. So, obviously I have lost a lot of hamstring muscle during this time. Fionn is making up for lost time now though by making sure my hamstrings are being worked every day through a variation of exercises. We alternate a day of heavy lifting with a day of more body weight exercises that also challenge my balance and coordination. It’s great that there is such a big variation of exercises so every part of me is working. I also do an upper body session 2 or 3 times a week to keep everything in balance.
After dinner I go back into the gym to do my mobility session and ice my leg one more time. It is amazing to see the progression that I have achieved in just 2 months with the help of everyone at the IRU. I’m really excited to see how much more I can do before I get back on skis. I’m in a really happy position with my injury at the moment. It’s exciting to see how far I can push my body in the gym or on the bike and I can’t wait to see how much of a difference my higher fitness levels are going to make when I get my skis back on!