“They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no no no’…”
Not this time. This time I said yes. Having fractured my ribs on May 26th just before the CapTex Tri, and then racing and experiencing a pain in my chest and shoulder like no other during that race, I’ve decided to play it sensible. Time for rehab.
Step One: DNS (Do Not Start) Blenheim
This is my second DNS at a triathlon—and as I discovered making the same choice last year due to injury, DNS for me means “Do Nothing Stupid” – when you are in something for the long haul, that perspective helps to take the sting out of choosing not to line up at the start.
I didn’t even bother opening my race pack until last night, and that was only to sort out the recyclables from non-recyclables. I hate that I had to cancel Blenheim, but there will always be more races, more Blenheims, and frankly, I don’t want to race in pain like CapTex anytime soon. DNS it was. Shame as it was a good race number for me – 4s and 8s being my lucky numbers. There’s always next year…
Step two: Shoulder PT
I knew almost immediately that the impact which knocked my shoulder also pulled things out of alignment. Due to a combination of hypermobility as well as an old injury (I was hit by a car while cycling in 1994 and my shoulder has had a tendency to be misaligned since) I have always lived with a niggle in my shoulder. It clicks, it aches on long swims, and the impact really aggravated things again. So back to rehab.
I last did shoulder PT in May 2011 when training for the Bay Swim. This time I took myself to Balance Performance Physiotherapy and their team of sports specialists. I am doing some different exercises, really targeted to build rhomboid strength and realign my shoulder. The key will be consistency with these exercises, which I know, but I really do feel better for them and am keeping up with things. It is early days, but so far so good.
I have also had my shoulder taped about 50% of the time since returning to London, reminding it where to sit. Taping is a funny thing. It doesn’t hold things in place – rather it is a trigger for the body to activate muscles and realign things. I’ve added some medical tape to the bits over my spine to make sure the tape stays in place for a good long while.
The only downside? Oh that itch you can’t scratch (tape irritation). But it really has helped how I feel. My latest taping came off on Saturday and I need to retape myself today. I need the alignment assistance.
Step three: Exercise
Most people have asked me if I am taking time off from training and exercise, due to the fact that I have a rib fracture. To be honest, the doctor at the fracture clinic told me that with ribs there is nothing to be done and nothing that can’t be done—he said that the only limitation would be how much pain I can handle.
Well, I know that I can do a triathlon with the pain from the fracture. But that is not a level of pain that I want to touch again for a while! So I have chosen to go back to activity smartly.
At the moment this means that I have not yet been swimming again since CapTex. I have thought about it, but each time I do I then rethink, knowing that I am just not ready. I also have not been back to bootcamp, but I plan to do that this week. Just with no weight bearing or lifting (at least no weights on my right side, which is fine, especially since I am left side weak). I have not been running except for a 20 second foray onto the treadmill to see how things feel (remarkably okay, just irritation from my arm swing) but will do so this week, and only to the point where pain does not interfere or break my form. I am taking this chance with running to explore using the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill, which I am really excited about trying. It will also be great for my foot tendonitis.
So what does that leave me? Cycling. Except I don’t feel 100% ready to go back on the roads yet. So I’m on my bike trainer, in my dining room.
I’m using the trainer time to explore the various sets and drills prescribed to me by my coach (yes, I am counting the teeth on my gears—it has only taken me three seasons to get to grips with these training plans!). I am also learning how to use the Computrainer better. I am convinced now more than ever that it is a great tool to help me to become a stronger cyclist, and the “break” I am taking due to my rib fracture has really opened my eyes to variety of ways that I can use it to my advantage.
And After Rehab?
In Amy Winehouse’s song we hear her lament that she doesn’t have time for rehab…
“I ain’t got seventy days…”
If this rehab takes me seventy days, counting from the date of my return to the UK after the CapTex Tri, that places me in early August before I would be “back at it”. That seems like a long time.
But who knows if it will be seventy days. Surely the doctors don’t – they told me it depends on my pain levels. That leaves me as the only judge in this process.
Right now I am preparing myself for a DNF at the Paris triathlon. Depending on how things evolve, I may just go and do the swim and bike, skipping the run. I know the only way to ensure that I deliberately DNF would be to leave my running shoes at home. It’s hard to just stop racing in the middle, which I know from CapTex.
Or maybe Paris will be a DNS, depending on how my swimming feels. I’m thinking of trying to swim this Saturday, just to test things. That will be three weeks after the impact, which seems a sensible amount of time…
A week after Paris there’s the Thames swim, 2.25 miles. I am not sure about doing that either.
For sure though I will be doing the Rev3 Old Orchard Beach middle distance aquabike in August. And London at the end of September. And volunteering at the Olympics.
So between now and those things? It is all wait and see. I’m okay with that.
“When I come back, you’ll know know know…”