March wrap-up: two leg injuries in a month (or why I haven’t cycled much)

March-wrap-upOkay, okay. I know it’s almost the middle of April, but everything’s been so crazy lately (including starting a new full-time job) that I haven’t had time to write my March wrap-up… so here goes.

After a really positive start to the month — a fantastic leisurely two-day trip cycling the Viking Coastal Trail in Kent — things went a little down hill…

On Sunday 22 March, I decided to go for a run — not my usual activity but having clocked up some 2,500 miles of walking in just a year (thanks to my fitbit), I thought it might be time to up my activity level and try a new challenge. I did a 1.5 mile run earlier in the month and loved it.

So, on this particular sunny but cold Sunday afternoon I took to the streets. Despite doing lots of warm-up exercises beforehand, something didn’t feel right  about one-third of the way through my 1.4 mile jog — the calf muscle in my right leg felt very tight, almost as if it had cramped and had got stuck in that position. I figured if I kept moving it would relax and I would run it off, so to speak. But it didn’t feel any better. It got worse. I stopped once to try to stretch it, but that didn’t help at all. By the time I got home my leg was in agony.

I took painkillers, applied a warm cloth to it (which I later found out was the wrong thing to do — ice is better) and kept it elevated.

It did not swell up but the next day I could barely walk on it. There was a tight twinge deep inside the my calf. I hobbled into work feeling rather foolish — I was clearly too old for this running malarkey.Bandaged-leg

On Tuesday, I booked an appointment to see a sports massage therapist for a deep tissue massage. After lots of painful prodding of my lower leg — “Feel free to yell if it hurts too much,” she told me — I was diagnosed  with a pulled muscle very deep within my calf. She massaged my leg, gave me a “prescription” for massage oil — a pleasant smelling combination of ginger, geranium and black pepper — told me to take ibuprofen regularly, strap my leg up with a compression bandage, keep it elevated as much as possible and seek further medical attention if it did not improve within a week.

I spent the next day lying on my bed  reading books.

It was still very sore on Thursday but by Friday it was feeling much better, but it took at least another week for me to comfortably bear weight on it and walk normally.

Then I injured my other leg.

PedalsI’m almost too embarrassed to confess how I did it here, seeing as it involved a bike — and some clip-in pedals. But basically, I was trying to teach myself how to use them — I was confident cycling with just one foot clipped in and was building up to clipping the other one in when it all went horribly wrong.

I did one revolution of the pedals and then wanted to stop, but instead of putting my unclipped foot on to the ground, I tried to use my clipped-in foot and forgot it was clipped in. So by the time I figured out that I needed to lift and twist it out, it was too late. I fell sideways with my foot still in position. Talk about uncoordinated!

Fortunately, I was practising on a private road, so there was no danger of traffic running over me, and I was wearing gloves, otherwise I would have shredded the palm of my right hand which took the brunt of my fall. My left knee hit a curb stone, and when I rolled up my trouser leg my shin bone was grazed and bleeding.

I hobbled home, put the bike away, and lay on the bed for the second time in less than a month, this time with a bag of frozen peas on my leg! It was very painful, although two ibuprofen washed down with a cup of tea helped.  A horrible bruise the colour of an overripe blackberry soon bloomed on my knee and I daren’t look at the hard shin bone immediately beneath the patella because it was throbbing like a heartbeat.

The next morning I hobbled into work once again, my leg all strapped up using the compression bandage I’d used for my other sore leg the week before. Of course, everyone in the office assumed my original calf injury had flared up. It was mortifying to explain it was the other leg and that I’d fallen off my bike!

A week has now passed and the leg is healing slowly. My shin is a bloom of yellow, as if I have jaundice, and the knee cap is black with a bloodied wound just beneath it (it never seems to form a scab, probably because that part of the anatomy doesn’t stay still long enough), which I swab and disinfect every day. I’m hoping that by next weekend it will be completely healed,  because I’m itching to get back on the bike again — but not with those pedals!

In total, I cycled a measly 89 miles in March, but I think I have a good excuse. If I was a horse, they would have shot me long ago…

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