Last July I sat in Glenmore Lodge, being mocked by a fit twenty-something for my fear of 'turning an ankle' in the hills, and the consequential survival-gear I carry. "Ever broken anything?" I asked. "Or even twisted anything?" He didn't answer.
Having once sprained my ankle (while getting up to answer the phone), I knew how easy, and how debilitating this injury can be. It sounds so common-place, doesn't it? But the pain isn't...
Then, on the five weeks ago, I did it again. It was a stupid, easy, slip that in the hills might have jeopardised my life. In my garden, only ten yards from the phone, it did no more than jeopardise my ready-booked trip to Scotland, and was a timely reminder of the care I need to take - as though I don't take enough care already.
I have my physiotherapist and his advice to thank for a miraculous recovery (from still-on-crutches to ten-mile hike with 6kg tester, in three weeks). I mentioned on my other blog that I'd rued not seeking physio the last time I did it. Now, having had the care that only private medical treatment can provide (without a 12-week wait), I've learned that I don't, actually, have to resign myself to a 'weak ankle' for life - which is what I was beginning to think (having once broken it too) - and that I don't have to take pain, ibuprofen, and apprehension with me into the hills next month - or worse, cancel the trip.
Exercise, that's all it takes: we pay huge attention to our quads/gluteals/deltoids, and whatever else takes our fancy, but what about the peroneus longus? Anyone? I have a blue stretchy-thing now, attached to the leg of my dining-room table (see picture, below), and every time I sit with a cup of tea, I stick my foot in the loop and do 30-this-way and 30-that-way. I'm not only rebuilding the strength I've lost, but I feel I'm guarding against future injury too.
It sounds naff, but I didn't expect to be hiking over the downs with a half-laden pack by now - and well on my way back to the Cairngorms. It's worth all the naffness, a thousand times over.
Blue stretchy-thing for ankle exercises, keeping the lower leg completely still. (Click for a larger image.)