Crock Down In Lockdown

I’ve injured my knee, but can a pact with a strange God get me running again?

Original image: Linus Schutz/Pixabay

YEARS AGO, when the alternative medicine Reiki was in vogue, a friend started telling us during dinner what an utter con she thought it was.

Then, suddenly, she began to choke on her food, gasping for breath and flailing her arms for what seemed a terrifyingly long time.

And just as we were getting panicked enough to make with the Heimlich Manoeuvre, she recovered.

“I’ve offended the great god Reiki!” were the first words she spluttered, back in the Land of the Living. “I promise I’ll never say another word against it again!”

I offer you this anecdote because, right now, I’m offering a similar apology to the Great God Voltarol.

This is because – after what I now realise were glib and disrespectful remarks about life on The Voltarol recently – I too have received an admonitory thunderbolt from above.

I’m not going to make a fuss this time… the NHS has bigger worries”

Soon after laughing about the serious subject of getting older, I buggered up my left knee quite seriously. It’s going to be quite some time before I can run anywhere at all, ha ha.

I’m pretty sure that what’s happened is an age-related meniscal tear – the menisci are the shock-absorbing cartilage in the knee joint, and injuries like this are increasingly common as we get older.

I ‘did’ my right knee about 18 months ago and the symptoms are the same: a feeling of looseness in the joint, some quite intense pain, slight swelling, stiffness, and particular problems going downstairs or downhill.

Last time, I mobilised all of the forces at my disposal – including my GP, an MRI scan and a clutch of physiotherapists. But I’m not going to make such a fuss this time… the NHS has bigger worries, currently, and I already know the strengthening exercises I need to do.

On the same day that I crocked myself on my six-mile run, the striker Danny Ings injured the meniscus in his own left knee while playing for Southampton against Aston Villa.

Ings, who at 28 has lived a lot less than yours truly, had a minor operation soon after and is expected to be out for up to six weeks.

As for me – without access to a surgeon or elite sports medicine, and with another quarter-century of wear and tear on the same joint – I’d be delighted if I were only out for twice as long.

I’m having to revise my plans for staying sane over the winter lockdown”

As well as thinking about what Lord Voltarol would like for a shrine – and if it helps, Your Magnificence, there is currently a tube of your elixir in every room of the house – I’m having to revise my plans for staying sane over the winter lockdown.

As someone who puts such store in being fit, it’s quite upsetting to find my body suddenly letting me down, although being crocked has at least made me think with much greater empathy about those who struggle generally with their mobility.

Having thought that running – as ever – would be my chosen path to happiness, I’m now going have to find other ways of fighting my mental health demons.  And so, the search is already on to find alternative forms of exercise. 

Just a week after I hurt myself, I find that I can ride a bike without much discomfort, which means I’m going to be looking out for every opportunity to saddle up – particularly when it’s not too wet or windy.

Lifting weights helps too: despite weight training’s meathead reputation, I find that an hour of pushing chunks of metal around always leaves me feeling calmer and thinking more clearly than when I started.

I can’t do all the lifts I used to with a damaged knee, but I can do enough to keep in reasonable shape – and it’s comforting to think that I won’t need to worry about body image, on top of everything else this winter.

By The Grace of Voltarol, I’ll soon be running free again”

When the swelling goes down a bit, I’ll crack on with the decidedly boring exercises – Bulgarian Lunges and the like – that I know will build up the strength in both my knees.

Already, I can’t wait to be back out there. The other day, I was practically salivating when I read Tao Geoghan Hart saying: “going running, alone in open space, having fresh air, is what humans need more than anything.” 

But with luck – and by The Grace of Voltarol – I’ll be running free again by early ’21.

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