A sharp scratch

 I’ve recently mentioned the lingering injury which, post marathon, has prevented me running. Knowing it wasn’t anything that a GP could help with, I self-referred to a local Physio, Sally Hayter-Harling.

Sally and I go way, way back although we hadn’t seen each other for a really long time until I was referred to her a few years back prior to my knee operation. Since then, by sheer coincidence we have ended up living within 5 minutes of each other and with children at the same school. Given that neither of us actually started life in our current area, it hits home what a small world it really is!

Anyway, I digress…

Before I self-referred, I self-diagnosed. Something I know drives medical professionals a bit crazy but, given the history of the onset, the localised nature of the pain and the triggers, I was confident. As it turns out, Sally carried out an examination and agreed with my assessment. She knows I know my body pretty well and was happy that I had been doing all the right things post marathon to try and recover. Sally advised that a course of acupuncture would be her recommendation. Typically, she finds that the achilles responds well to acupuncture and felt that I could expect to feel improvements pretty quickly.

So, acupuncture…. A form of treatment I haven’t experienced before. I was intrigued as to what would happen and how it would feel. Whilst I’m not scared of needles in the slightest, I was equally quite pleased that my treatment would be on the back of my ankle so I couldn’t see it.

All prepped and ready to go, Sally warned of a ‘sharp scratch’. Given this is usually what I hear when having a blood test or giving blood, I was expecting worse…. Actually, it was barely noticeable – well, on the first session. At my last session I hadn’t been diligent in defuzzing and the needle caught a hair follicle.. that was a bit tender! I guess that’ll teach me for being a lazy arse!

Once the needles were in place it was literally a case of laying still and having a chat. Not a bad way to heal I have to say!

I was surprised to notice an improvement after the first session. Not immediately, but within 24 hours there was a tangible reduction in the pain. I could rest my ankle against my opposite leg whilst sitting with far less pain and I was able to walk down the stairs like a normal person!

A few days later, back for my second session, Sally commented that the swelling had reduced which, coupled with the reduced discomfort, was a really good outcome.

This time, and for the following two sessions, Sally used something resembling a TENS machine to provide some extra stimulation on the needles. A strange sensation but actually quite pleasant once you adjust to the initial tingling.

Each session saw a marked improvement in my mobility and reduction in the level of pain. I accompanied the treatment with strengthening exercises and was happy to be advised it was OK to run after the third session.

That run was tough but I think that was down to my loss of fitness rather than anything else. There was no achilles pain for the majority of the run and only some minor twinges when going uphill.

The final acupuncture session was the toughest but as it was on the day of my test run, it may have been down the blood flow stimulation. Whatever actually made it a little uncomfortable isn’t actually important, it just was.. But still not really sore.

And the outcome?? Well, the pain is FAR less than it was. I can walk pretty normally even when I first stand up. I haven’t run much since as life’s been a bit busy with kids and house stuff but once this heatwave passes I’ll give it a go. In the meantime I’ve carried on with my strengthening work to reduce the risk of the injury recurring. And, of course, for the time being I’ll be on greatly reduced mileage which should help support the recovery.

I would highly recommend acupuncture – or at least discussing it with a qualified therapist. Some other things that are worth noting:

If you’re a blood donor Sally can give you a certificate to be able to continue as she’s appropriately registered. 

Acupuncture alone probably wouldn’t do the trick… but it’s worth a try if you have access to a practitioner who knows what they’re dealing with. 

Similar to the above, do your research. This is an invasive treatment and you want to be sure it’s someone reputable sticking pins in you!! 

Have you ever tried an alternative therapy!

How did you find it? 

Any top tips? 


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