If the Knee Hurts

It feels as though I’ve done a lot of whingeing over the last 3 months. I’ve gone from chest infection to pulled calves to meniscal tears and it’s beginning to sound like I’m manufacturing my own get out of the London Marathon free card.

It was rather convenient then that Craig Carroll contacted me last week to offer me a trial session of his services. He is billed as a Performance and Injury Specialist and that is just what the doctor ordered. At least, that is what I wanted the Doc to order, instead she wrote out a prescription for no more running.

I tore the prescription up and went along to see Craig instead.

Craig never once gave me the impression that sitting back and giving up was an option, in fact he never even hinted that my knee injury should hold me back from my goals. Craig himself has a military background and has experienced being written off following injury. Apparently he suffered horrible shin splints on one of the mammoth, full kit, training runs and was discarded by the military doctors. It sometimes feels like civvy doctors can follow the route of least resistance too, if your knee hurts, stop using it. Simples.

So back to my session. Craig set me off doing the ministry of silly walks. Side to side waddling and full on drunk staggering, all of which apparently enabled him to determine potential problems with my gait and assess imbalances.

I think the results suggested I may over use my left side to compensate for slight weaknesses in my right side and the basis of Craig’s style is understanding that the body works as a chain. The site of your pain is not necessarily the cause of your pain, so for example a blister on your right toe my lead you to alter your pose so that you end up with lower back pain or an overuse injury on the opposite leg.

Having completed the initial assessment we moved into the treatment room where Craig started to do a little work on my feet. He had me doing repeated squats and lunges – both of which are exercises that I never do because of the knee pain. I get sharp pains in both knees and they feel like they are about to give way. Still, I did as I was told and lunged on command. As I was doing it Craig was manipulating my feet. Not quite sure what he was doing, it didn’t feel like much but all of a sudden I was able to lunge without the knee pain. Odd.

He did a little more work on my feet, loosening up the joints before discovering my special toe. My second toe on the right foot has been “special” for a long time now. I often refer to it as my broken toe as it makes me yell like crazy when it gets knocked or bent. He whipped out a special little tool that looked like a perfectly moulded Alessi can opener and started working the hooked end into my toe tendons (I later discovered the tool was from I Am Tools). After 5 minutes of deeply painful massage he was able to bend my dodgy toe back into the sole of my foot.

I remain quite impressed that he discovered my achilles heel quite so quickly. Could it be the source of the pains in my left leg? Who knows.

We finished off with a series of exercises that I could use to warm up for a running session. They were a little bizarre or maybe balletic would be a better description. Either way they are a bit hard to describe without pictures. They were a form of lunge with a plie style arm movement but with the arms going in opposite directions. I started the move under my own steam and then Craig stepped in to force the movement just a step further. Taking me beyond the point at which I felt I would fail or fall was designed to inspire muscle confidence. It worked actually. Back under my own steam I was able to take move further than before and still stay standing.

I took something very positive away from the session. I learnt that I can do more than I think and that it is also possible for me to move without pain. I got a small dose of muscle confidence and it’s much easier to move when you aren’t waiting anxiously for the next problem to appear.

When I ran the next day after my session with Craig Carroll, I started to get the usual twinge with my knee but I remembered his action of altering the position of my feet and so tried adjusting them myself. A slight outturn of my left foot and the pain went again.

I’m very happy with the result of my session, I could get quite used to the idea of having a personal trainer, especially one that works so specifically to my goals and treats me as an individual, accepting the strengths and weaknesses that are wrapped up in the package.

If you are in central London and want a personal trainer to help you achieve your goals then I would really recommend getting in contact with Craig Carroll for a session.