Week eight of my walking challenge has been a challenge indeed.

As with any long term challenge there will be some kind of stumbling block to stall progress along the way.

Early in the week I suffered an injury to my right ankle. I was walking down a gully while exploring a new route over the Lomond Hills and thanks to the soggy conditions I lost my footing and came down with a thump and in the process my ankle absorbed the majority of the impact. Fortunately I wasn’t too far from my car and I managed to drive myself home.

Thanks to an accident last year, I have a slight weakness in that particular ankle so I was concerned that I may of caused some serious damage to it. On arriving home I took off my boot and applied some ice to reduce the swelling. While extremely painful, there was fortunately no sign that the ankle was fractured and I suspected that I had perhaps sprained it.

Seeking professional advice

Applying an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a teatowel) helps to reduce the swelling.

Applying an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a teatowel) helps to reduce the swelling.

The next morning I called my friend who is a physiotherapist to see if he was available to to take a look at my ankle to make sure that I hadn’t done too much damage.

Some people may question why I didn’t first call my GP or call NHS direct to see if I needed to visit my nearest minor injuries unit but having had experience of going down those routes in the past, I felt that I would possibly be redirecting their valuable time away from people who may be in more need.

I was lucky that my friend had a cancellation later that morning and I was quickly sat down in his clinic and, after a healthy dose of prodding, he informed me that I had indeed sprained my ankle and, despite the pain telling me otherwise, it wasn’t too bad and it should heal up nicely provided I behave and take his advice.

What is a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is an injury that can occur when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. A sprain can vary in terms of pain depending on how much damage has occurred to the ligaments (tough bands of tissue) that support your ankle joint. Indicators of a sprain can be pain, tenderness or weakness in the area surrounding your ankle and the tissue often becomes swollen and often you are unable to put your full weight on the affected joint when walking.

How do you treat a sprain?

It usually takes 5 to 14 days for most people to recover from a mild ankle sprain and the NHS suggests the following approach to treating your injured ankle –

Rest – try not to put weight on it and stop any exercise or activities
Ice – apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a teatowel) to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
Compression – wrap a bandage around the injury to support it
Elevate – as much as possible keep it raised on a pillow

Painkillers like paracetamol will ease the pain and ibuprofen will bring down swelling. However, you shouldn’t take ibuprofen for 48 hours after your injury as it may slow down healing. When you find that you can move the ankle without pain stopping you, try to keep moving it so the joint or muscle doesn’t become stiff.

A speedy recovery

This injury obviously slowed my progress this week to a crawl but towards the end of the week I found that I was again mobile and headed out for out for some walking. Apart from some minor twinges I was back on form and was soon racking up the miles. My friend reckons that the reason for my quick recovery was mainly due to the my legs and feet being in really good shape thanks to all the miles I have walked so far this year.

Week eight lessons

This week I learned more about how fragile my joints can be and how I have to be a little more considerate of my weak ankle when out walking otherwise my challenge may end prematurely and my goal of 4000 miles will go unclaimed. Seeking professional advice as soon as possible after you sustain an injury to your joints is advisable especially if you are intending to put them through heavy use like I am currently.

Walking on…

Now that I am back up and walking I have to catch up on the miles that I have missed in order to maintain my schedule. Week nine promises to be snowy but I won’t let that stop me gaining the miles and I am looking forward to getting out into the countryside and enjoy the winter scenery of Fife to the fullest.

If you have any questions about this challenge or anything Walk Fife related, then please drop me a email at sean@walkfife.com or direct message me through my twitter account @SDMakin.

Catch up with you again next week.

Happy Walking!

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Week Seven - Sean’s 4000 Mile Walking Challenge - Walk FifeWeek Nine - Sean’s 4000 Mile Walking Challenge - Walk Fife