Lucy Newman – Journey to the Downhill TrackPosted on December 23rd, 2015
Lucy Newman has been a Harris & Ross patient since an unfortunate accident in 2013. She has been documenting her progress on Twitter (@LucyJ_Newman), regularly posting her #gainz after her sessions in the gym and clinic; here we can read of her recovery journey in full!
Only a year after I started mountain biking, I competed at the 2013 Downhill Mountain Bike National Championships in Bala, this is where my journey with Harris & Ross started as I broke my back during the event; since then I have been a regular sight at the clinic.
It’s a fair drive from Buckinghamshire to Wilmslow, but definitely worth it as Harris & Ross are by far the best guys I have met for putting you back together again. They have helped me tremendously through a string of injuries, including a broken hand and ribs at the start of the 2014 season (very frustrating, having just got back up to speed on my bike after the broken back) and now my latest setback with my knee injury.
15 March – End of my 2015 race season
I was looking forward to finally being fit for a full season of racing in 2015. However, on the first morning of a snowboarding holiday with friends in Austria, bad luck struck again when a skier crashed into me. Luckily I was wearing my Ossur CTi knee brace at the time, which we think saved my knee from a lot of additional damage, but still resulted in an injury to the posterolateral corner.
Waving my friends goodbye as they went off skiing, I was bored within a couple of hours and having been told by an Austrian doctor there was nothing major wrong with my knee, it would be fine again in a few weeks, I decided to pass the time by hobbling for miles around the mountains every day in the warm sunshine.
Probably not the most sensible thing to have done, on learning the actual extent of my knee injury on a trip up to Manchester to see Doug Jones at Harris & Ross when I returned to the UK. Doug was fantastic as ever and managed to arrange an MRI and appointment with knee surgeon, Rob Gilbert all within the next couple of hours. We tried three months in the CTi brace, to see if the knee would heal on its own and making good progress with this, resulted in me getting back on my bike in June for a few weeks.
However, as soon as I stopped wearing the brace my knee became unstable again and I was getting a lot of pins and needles down my leg, from where the large nerve was being stretched, so we decided that the only option was to go ahead with a lateral collateral ligament reconstruction. This definitely wasn’t how I planned on spending the winter, having already spent the majority of the last two years off my bike doing rehab!
18 August – Under The Knife Again
The operation a few weeks later went well and on attempting to wiggle my foot around as soon as I came round from the anesthetic, I was glad I didn’t appear to have any major problems as a result of all the cleaning up they had to do around the peroneal nerve.
I was pretty limited in what I could do for the first two weeks after the operation as I was in a full leg splint and my main focus was trying to get the swelling down (even my foot was massive!) with the help of the Game Ready and my Squid Compress system.
At the two week mark, I moved into a hinged leg brace and was able to start some basic exercises. At six weeks I became fully weight bearing and was finally able to progress to working on regaining my leg strength and balance. This was very welcoming after six weeks of leg raises, static quads and desperately trying to get some bend back in my knee! It was also good to finally be able to get going on some hydrotherapy with Laura Robson, as a few problems with the wounds healing had meant I wasn’t allowed in the pool until about the five week point. Hydro helped massively; there is so much more you can do in the water and it felt good to have that freedom and not be struggling so much with everything. The sessions with Laura are always fun and a nice change from the hours of tedious rehab in the gym every day.
13 October – Back on a (spin) bike
One of the big turning points in my rehab was at the eight week mark when I eventually managed to bend my knee enough to do a full pedal stroke on a bike. I never thought I would be so happy about being able to ride a spin bike! I was also now pushing on hard with my rehab, under the supervision of Jeff Ross and able to start loading my leg in the gym and wobbling around on a Bosu.
24 November – Ditching the brace
After three and a half months in the knee brace, Rob Gilbert finally gave me the all clear to ditch the brace (apparently “gradually weaning off the brace” was actually what I was meant to be doing according to Darren Roberts, after I spent day one of no brace in the gym all morning and afternoon, followed by Christmas Shopping at The Trafford Centre in the evening, resulting in a rather fat, sore knee).
Being out of the brace didn’t feel as wobbly as I expected and I was surprised at how much I was able to do when I went into the gym with Jeff during our physio session the next day. I’m now onto the stage of endless reps of squats, leg presses, lunges, leg extensions and leg curls (I am sure it’s possible to fall asleep on that machine). It’s mind-numbingly dull compared to riding my downhill bike, but I can already see a bit of shape starting to come back to my leg so it’s definitely doing the trick and thinking about riding my bike in the summer on the dusty tracks at my local bike park, Aston Hill keeps me going through sets 40 reps 35…
I’m still travelling up to Wilmslow every two weeks at the moment for treatment and gym gains (don’t think battle ropes will be making it onto my list to Santa this year, Darren!). Jeff is doing a fantastic job of stopping my knee stiffening up and getting too sore so I can push on hard with my rehab. Plus, as well as sorting out my knee, the physios have also been helping me keep on top of the other niggles in my lower back and shoulder from previous injuries.
The plan is to use this period off my bike to work on the things I’ve neglected in my training in the past, so that I’ll be coming back fitter and stronger and hopefully with the ability to ‘bounce’ better when things do occasionally go wrong on the downhill tracks!
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