After a first week of mainly rest, recovery and a bit of boredom, I was looking forward to Monday morning. The repetition of icing, elevating my leg and using the exogen machine had become a little bit mundane, so the thought of being back at the training ground and back amongst all the lads and staff was exciting! Little did I know I would be struggling to manoeuvre my crutches out of the training ground on Friday due to the pounding my arms and upper body had taken during the week! All football clubs can differ, but here at Wolves when you are injured, be prepared for hard work.
The day of an injured player can vary depending on what stage of recovery you are at. For my injury, a ‘medium term injury’ it is important to keep fitness levels high and body fats down. When the time comes that you have recovered from your injury you will then go through a conditioning period with the fitness coaches before going back into training. If you have maintained fitness levels during the injury and your body is in good shape then this conditioning stage can be significantly reduced. My goal is to be back and playing as many games as I can before the end of the season, so any time I can shave off my anticipated return will help me even if it is just a few days.
Aside from the fitness work, the key things for me this week were to:
- Restore ankle range and movement
- Reduce inflammation
- Maintain muscle bulk in key muscle groups
- Maintain core stability
- Maintain upper body power
- Maintain CV fitness
The first part of the day is spent in the treatment room, Phil Hayward (Head of Medical) assesses me every morning. Phil then starts my mobilisations to try and restore some movement in my ankle and my foot. I then get my soft tissue work done off Matt Wignall who is our first team sports therapist. He will work to move any swelling away from the foot. He will also do some release work on any overloaded muscle tissue to keep me in as good nick as possible. By mid morning I am then working on reducing inflammation with ice and compression. I will then do specific early stage rehab in the gym and also work on my lower leg muscles to maintain the muscle bulk whilst I am not training. Before dinner I will also fit in one of Phil Haywards killer core sessions! These look so easy to do, but when done properly they are really tough work. I do dread the core sessions because I know I will be pain for the majority of it, good pain though.
After dinner and after the food has settled in my stomach its gym time. I do really like going in the gym knowing I am going to work hard and come out feeling a lot better. Because of me still being non-weight bearing on my injured foot, everything has been upper body to avoid doing anything that might aggravate the healing. I have had 3 upper body weight sessions this week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday.) These sessions have been tough as Tony Daley our fitness coach has set up the session in a circuit style. After an 8 station circuit where I do 8 repetitions on each exercise, I get a one minute rest and then repeat 4 times. By the 4th set it is pretty gruelling! Especially when you are moving between stations on crutches with your arms already pumping.
All this gym work has been very tough and I am definitely feeling the effects of it this weekend. But it is nice to do the physical work when you are not out on the training pitches. To get the most out of each session I put my earphones in, put YouTube on my phone and play some motivational stuff! I find this really helps me, its like have a Personal Trainer in your ear not allowing you to give up and push yourself to the limit. My favourite videos this week have been from a YouTube channel called CJ Chan, these videos really make me determined to work hard, they are short 5 minute or so videos with motivational speeches and music playing. I was first attracted the CJ Chan videos because of the Wolves reference, one video is called ‘The Wanderer’ then there is another video which is my favourite called ‘The Wolfs’ this will make you give every ounce of energy you have! I also love listening to Les Brown who is a motivational speaker and Eric Thomas, an ex NFL star who is a great motivator also. Any suggestions on some good videos will be greatly appreciated as I am going to be spending a lot of time the gym!I also did 2 high intensity interval training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. Rich Kirby one our first team strength and conditioning coaches took these sessions and it is great because he really gets the most out of you. On Tuesday I did my session with Niall Ennis one of our young starlets. We did a 6 station circuit which included 3 consecutive one minute arm exercises followed by 3 consecutive one minute core exercises. It was a mind over matter circuit where your mind was desperate to give up but you just have to keep going. I think poor Niall wanted to drop a few times but fair play to him, he grinded it out. I don’t think he wanted a first team lad to see him give up. On Thursday I did my session with Mike Williamson, it was 2 old timers grinding out an old school session knowing one didn’t want to be out done by the other! Rich also took me and Mike for another slower state CV session on Friday which involved the rowing machine and arm bike. It was good to get an extra session in knowing I had the weekend off.
Mentally, this week has been a range of emotions. Firstly, I am delighted with the progress that I am making. Although I am still non weight bearing, I have had no pain in my foot at all. This makes me feel very positive about how the bone is healing and my progression. There is nothing worse than waking up with pain every day, it puts you in a negative mindset straight away. I had this when I was out with a back injury for the best part of 8 months in 2011. I would wake up every morning in pain after a restless sleep, I would struggle to play with Jack whilst he was a baby or carry him and it became very debilitating. Whereas now apart from the awkwardness of being on crutches, I am totally fine, I sleep well, I’m on no pain medication and I can crawl around and play with my children. These positives make a massive difference.
The only time I have really felt down this week was firstly on Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon when I was sat at home watching the football scores come in. I know there is nothing I can physically do about not playing at the moment but not being involved with the lads in the build up to a game and then during the 90 minutes still hurts me. I love playing football, and I know there will never be anything that I do in my life after football that will be able to replicate the same buzz you get when playing in front of a stadium full of passionate fans. The combination of nerves, excitement and a burning desire to win a game of football is something special and not having that in the upcoming weeks is going to be tough!
Away from football, I celebrated turning the big 3-0 on Wednesday. I always thought 30 sounded kind of old as Im sure many others did in their school and teenage years. In football terms 30 is the stage of your career where you never really want to get to as it almost seems the clock is ticking down on your playing career. I am embracing it though and still feel very young both in my mind and my legs, I will just have to see how long that lasts. I was delighted to see Mike Williamson sign for us last week, not only for his defensive prowess but it also means I am not the only Wolves player in their 30’s! I did have a lovely birthday though, Jack and Evie were more excited than me which made it extra special! After I got back from the training ground I had a lovely afternoon with them, they made me a lovely card each and decorated a cake for me as well. These are the special things in life and it makes the day mean so much more. Because I have been making sure I eat and drink the right things I decided to wait to Friday night to celebrate and finally give myself my first treat since the injury. Me and another 14 of my family went to celebrate at our favourite place ‘The Smoke Stop’ which is in Ford just outside Shrewsbury for a beautiful meal. Its great for kids and if you like some good old American styled BBQ food you have to go!
Anyone who knows me will know I am not the most practical when it comes to fixing things around the house. My wife did once ask me to change a light bulb in Evie’s room and I thought I’d done a pretty stellar job until she went to turn the light switch on and the bulb fell out (true story!) So turning 30 I think my family thought it was time I owned my first set of tools. My wife got me a big tool box and other family members got me various tools to fill it with it! I am now officially DIY Dave in our household.
Thanks for reading this weeks blog, hope you have enjoyed it. Also thank everyone so much for all the kind comments regarding my very first blog last week!