How I recovered from Knee Sports Injury without listening to doctors!
Dont let Lifestyle Problem come in way of your Passion
It is a big problem if you dont have a passion in life. But its a bigger problem if you have a passion but are not able to pursue it. I am a 40 year old running my own start up and a passionate sports enthusiast. Besides being an arm chair sports analyst, I have been actively playing some or the other sport throughout my life. While early years were dedicated to cricket or Soccer with boys 5-7 years senior to me, senior school years were more about Volleyball & Soccer. Hockey got added in college in my sports portfolio and I graduated from my college with outstanding contribution to Hockey 🙂
Team work came in Corporate life and team sports went out in personal life!
Soon realised that team sports are no more possibility with a hectic professional life, I shifted my interest to individual sports and indulged in Tennis which I have been pursuing for last 15 years. Sweaty body, bruised muscles & fatigued legs in tennis court taught me meaning of passion. Soon I started eating, drinking and sleeping tennis. Evening dinners were planned keeping in mind Tennis game next day. Travel to outstation were planned according to my tennis partner schedule. I figured out the best tennis facebook page and tennis you tube channels. Roger Federer replaced the existing gods.
All this was fine when I was in my 20s or 30s. Those were heady days – drink eat, sleep, play, repeat. So partying till wee hours in morning was followed by tennis game in early hour interspersed with few hours of sleep. Hunt was on to find the next tennis tournament, ensure that we get court booking and which ball bounce and speed produces max number of rallies!
While this continued for good 10-12 years, but age caught up not only in calendar but also with my body. I for the first time understood the real meaning of Back Pain when I was 36 years old. And for last 2 years, I have been battling with various episodes of different intensity, duration of Back Pain, Knee Pain etc. One of the most frustrating moment of injury was where I injured myself in first point of first round match of tournament. Unsurprisingly, I lost 6-1 in the first round in the tournament where I was expected to proceed much more.
This cycle of tennis play, injury, rest/recovery went for almost 12-18 months. Initially injury & rest period used to be 1-2 weeks in quarter of year but slowly injury and rest period started occupying majority of quarter. From my personal and first hand understanding of how body changes with age, I realised few things. Firstly, we need to accept natural aging process and respect it. We no longer could do all the body calisthenics that we could do in our teens or in our 20s. Secondly, our mind and body needs continuous nurturing. This nurturing could be in form of counselling when we are in 20s, in our 30s/40s it may be in form of healthy lifestyle, proper rest, diet etc. Thirdly, it is difficult but not impossible to recover from serious sports injuries and resume physically active lifestyle.
I experienced these points first hand when I started facing Knee Pain after my tennis game. Possibly one of the best tennis match where i won the 1st set 6-0 but when to loose the 2nd set 7-6 in tie break (tie break score 10-8)! On the day of the match, I didnt feel anything but minor niggle and pains in body which I would ascribe as ‘Sweet Pain’. Next day morning was impossible where I felt almost an iron rod wedged inside my knee down to calf. I could bend my knee with tremendous discomfort and pain. And once I could bend my knee, I couldnt straighten it!
Dont let Back or Joint pain come in pursuit of passion
Initial reaction was to simply dismiss this injury as one more digression from tennis. My normal first hand treatment course – Break from tennis, Volini, muscle relaxant, physiotherapy sessions etc was not helpful. This pain didn’t subside even after couple of months and this is when I got MRI done on advise of orthopedics. What came out was a Medial Meniscus tear and hence started process of rehabilitation post Median Meniscus tear. While doctors suggested Cortico Steroid or PRP injections, I opted out of it and decided to initiate structured rehabilitation process
- Good improvement in diet: This was possibly something I was ignoring and possibly the root cause of multiple and frequent injuries. Not realizing that muscles start wearing off after 35 years of age and requires more nutrition, I continued my existing diet despite my ageing body and increased playing frequency. I realized that my 65% of daily calories were coming from carbohydrates and protein intake was much lesser. I tried to balance diet by reducing carbohydrates and improving protein percentage in form of protein shakes, more cottage cheese, more eggs/day etc.
- Personal physical trainer: New injuries bring new perspective to life and hence need to experiment with new things in life. As a part of rehabilitation process, I stepped into gym possibly for the first time in my life. As it was the first time in gym for me, I started using Personal trainer who could advise on what to do and what to avoid. Within 30 days I moved from 2-3 Squats per session to 40 Squats with weights per session. I started doing leg curls with almost 30-35 kg of weight. While main purpose of joining Gym was to strengthen lower body, but started working on upper body as well and could soon see more muscular shoulder and biceps. And more importantly that “sweet pain” begin to happen after gym workouts:)
- Regular Body massage: Muscles are like small kids. You could provide them right nutrition (diet improvement), push them around (gym), but unless you connect with them and nurture them, they wouldn’t turn out to be the person you desire. Body massage helped me provide rest and relax muscles which was much needed after tiring work out or stressful days. Even when I was not able to for regular massage in Spa, I would simply apply oil post bath for 5-7 min on important joints/muscles. This is what Ayurvedic principles prescribe to apply oil on joints on a regular basis for few minutes. Surprisingly, this not only take care of dry skin but also helped in stronger joints, relaxed muscles etc.
While I am dying to hit back the tennis court soon, I have been strongly advised to give it enough time to avoid recurring injuries. And here I am penning this blog to do mental recap of my journey over last 3-4 months. While I am not sure, how soon I will be back to tennis but can definitely feel that this is the right way of treating any muscular or joint related injury. While medicine, balms could help to overcome the immediate injury, but if there is a trend of recurring injury, then we need to read warning signs that our body is giving us before it become more serious than a localized injury.