Associate Features Editor Clemmie Moodie undertaken a series of intensive physio sessions to improve her fitness after a series of nasty football injuries, assisted by. Clemmie’s blog on the website documents her recovery from ruptured knee ligaments and full reconstruction surgery, after sustaining the injury playing football for her team, Old Actonians LFC, in west London. Clemmie guides readers through the rigorous rehabilitation process carried out by professional footballers, such as Arsenal and England’s Theo Walcott, with the expert help of , with the blog readable below and on the website:
They tried to make me go to (sports) rehab, I said yes, yes yes!
What do Theo Walcott, Michael Owen, Paul Gascoigne and a former 3am Girl have in common? (Aside, in the case of the latter duo, a love of gin and tonic. )
Ruptured ACL ligaments, and full reconstruction surgery, it turns out.
Alas, in my case, I was not playing for a Premiership side at the time, rather the decidedly less well-known.
Similarly, for my industrious efforts down the right wing I do not earn £30,000 a week: instead I pay £30 a month simply for the privilege of donning the blue and white striped shirt.
So, after rupturing my right anterior cruciate ligament in April – in addition to dislocating my knee-cap, tearing the medial collateral ligament and snapping a cartilage – the prospect of 9-12 months in rehab (the physio, not Gazza, kind) did not exactly fill me with joy.
However, proving correct the adage “it’s not what you know, but who”, my physio, Gordon Bosworth, put me in touch with surgeon to the (football) stars, Mr Andy Williams from London’s Fortius clinic.
Jokes aside about not being able to take his eyes off me, Andy performed Walcott’s successful ACL reconstruction.
And, after doing a fantastic job on mine, enabled my stay at St George’s Park, the new £105million England FA training base in Burton-upon-Trent.
With 12 manicured football pitches, including an elite “Desso” training pitch which is a replica of Wembley, a hydrotherapy centre, two state of the art gyms, a running track and a special running hill, this is the residential Perform rehab base for all 24 England teams.
Although regular members of the public can stay, since January 2013 more than 300 professional footballers have been treated while anyone who is anyone has rehabbed here. In fact, the day I arrive David Beckham is leaving, having hired out a pitch for son, Romeo, and pals.
In addition, the Wayne Rooney-captained England squad were staying ahead of their European qualifier and Scotland international.
Slightly disconcertingly, I also spot Premiership referee Howard Webb working up a sweat.
I am spoiled by the sight of sweating men, everywhere.
Day One starts off promisingly, with a full English breakfast at the adjacent Hilton hotel. “I can handle this,” I think, smugly.
But having changed into gym kit, I am taken for the first of three physical assessments. Head physiotherapist Paul Williamson goes through a generic question and answer session, before a second medical with Clinical Director Dr Charlotte Cowie to gauge the strength and mobility of my knee.
But it is the third one I am really dreading: a body composition test. Within seconds of walking into the Human Performance Lab, sports scientist Nathan Miller is wielding a pair of calipers and pointing menacingly at a pair of electronic scales.
He all but manhandles me on to them, as I plead with him not to tell me the results.
After having various bits of belly, bottom and back squeezed and my corresponding fat percentage stored into a central computer, I am not only regretting my fry-up but also suffering a severe sense of humour failure.
“Don’t worry,” he says. “I’m not expecting the results to be too bad. ” Too?! On a scale of one to Michelle McManus, I am feeling decidedly non-athletic.
Still sulking, Nathan straps me into what looks suspiciously like an electric chair. It is, I am informed, a £45,000 Biodex isokinetic dynamometer machine which will monitor my glute and hamstring strength. Neither are great.
Tests over, it is time for lunch in the Dug Out canteen, a restaurant complete with table tennis tables and plasma screen TVs that play Sky Sports on loop. A two-hour afternoon session has Paul taking me through a bespoke rehab programme which basically entails a lot of painstakingly dull, but essential, bum, hamstring and knee exercises.
Physio, for me, consists of having my extremely tight psoas and hip flexors squeezed by Paul. It is excruciating.
My group for the week consists of six burly Championship and League One and Two players. I feel fractionally intimidated but, over time, I am treated very much as “one of the lads”.
In the gym at 9. 30am, we spend an hour going through our individual programmes before I am told to don my swimming costume and meet Paul in the hydrotherapy chamber.
Here, I am made to stand in the centre of a rectangular metallic pit which gradually lowers, immersing me in a tank of water. There are underwater cameras everywhere.
“I should probably have warned you,” says Paul. “The camera angle isn’t very flattering and tends to make people look a bit short and dumpy. ” I look at the monitors. A pair of stout Borrower legs are staring back at me. I want to weep. But then, last week, I was watching a segment on the today show called advice descriptive essays for sale for raising girls in the digital age.
Do my legs really look like this?” I screech. Paul doesn’t really reply.
Suddenly, though, the treadmill belt is moving and, sure enough, I am running underwater.
After a 10 minute warm-up and a series of dynamic running drills, he blasts the jets up to 78% of max, and I am made to sprint from one end of the tank to the other. And then repeat it four times. Two sets of this, and I am exhausted.
Alas, this is just stage one of my cardio session. Next, I am taken back to the gym to join my groupmates for a VO2 Max bike session.
Wired up to heart rate monitors, our individual performances and effort levels are zoomed on to a central TV screen. There is no cheating.
Warm-up done, we then cycle for four minutes flat-out, ordered to get our heart rates up to 95% of our working maximum.
After a three minute cooldown, this is repeated four more times, each time more horrific than the last. Helpfully, resident masochist strength and conditioning coach Ian Aylward has placed bins out for us to be sick in.
As if my day could not get any worse, I am immediately dragged pitch-side to chat to Spurs and England Under 21 striker, Harry Kane.
I am heaving like a monster, and clad in just a sports bra and deeply unflattering knee-length football shorts. Harry looks at me in either pity or disgust, I cannot be sure.
After politely inquiring about my knee, he tells me just why the players all love it so much at St George’s. “Everything is laid on for us, and we don’t really have to think for ourselves,” he says.
“The facilities are world class, and we basically get spoon-fed from start to finish. ”
That afternoon, I am paired-up with Callum, a former Nottingham Forest player, and for the next 90 minutes we are beasted to within an inch of our lives with a gruelling weights circuit.
Just to further compound our misery, we all end the day in the plunge pool – 10 minutes of freezing cold hell which make the recent ice bucket challenge craze look like a stint in the sauna.
Not surprisingly, I sleep log-like at the end of every day.
On Day Three, I am given a comprehensive run-down of my results and, it turns out, my left knee – supposedly the good one – “is an ACL reconstruction waiting to happen”.
As such, I must spend the next six months religiously rehabbing and strengthening BOTH legs. So, aside from this minor blip, how did I do? Paul says: “You put a lot of effort in, and worked really hard.
“The good news is that your body fat levels are low and you hop quite well. The bad news is the rest of it.
“You have some serious deficiencies in both legs but we have established the problem areas and given you a whole new programme so that you can overcome them.
“If you come back in three months, having done your rehab, we should see significant improvements. ”
Ok, so I may be a long way from making like Theo and co but for the first time post-operation, my right knee feels great and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Good news for Old Actonians fans, all three of them, everywhere.
is the Official Healthcare Provider for St. Georges Park, The National Football Centre based in Burton. To enquire about strength and conditioning testing and services for individuals or groups, please call on 01283 576333. Find out more about at.