All posts by Tris

ED-209 meets the Respect campaign?

This is an interesting new take on the Respect campaign from The FA. A lot more than a mere tip of the hat to the ultra-violent RoboCop film as well!

I am now wondering whether I should take a cuddly toy onto the pitch to hand to the next dissentful player. It would certainly get some sort of reaction.

My first supply league middle

1st-star-medal-gold Following on from my first game of the season (in a 4th official role), it was time to grab my whistle and have my first ‘middle’ of the season too. This was on my local supply league now that I am eligible to do those games following my promotion to Level 4.

The warm-up from the previous game had given me confidence that my achilles was going to behave, and I’m very happy to report that it stayed rock solid throughout the 90 minutes. However, the first game back is always a shock to the system, so the end result was that everything else hurt instead! Thankfully, just the usual DOMS after the game rather than anything more sinister.

The game itself went well although I am aware that I have a lot of work to do to get my fitness back to my peak level. That’s to be expected following the injury. I’ve resumed training runs again with the achilles remaining stable but I am being careful with how I am ramping up the activity to avoid anything else going ‘ping’.

It was a great moment to start that training run yesterday, as I was very much aware that I was able to run along pain free so had a big smile on my face!

It’s a busy week though: Another supply league middle coming up, then my first outing as Assistant Referee on the contrib, then refereeing an U18s Premier League Academy match!

My first TV game

Television-camera-006 It was a real thrill and a privilege to get a call from Surrey FA appointing me as 4th official to an U21s Premier League match. Especially so when it is Chelsea v Spurs! This is an appointment I now qualify for as a Level 4 referee, and so getting it as my first game of the season was excellent.

For professional reasons, I won’t comment on the match itself other than to refer you to the official report.

In terms of my own development, this was a game in front of nearly 3,000 fans and was also featured live on Chelsea TV. This meant there was a real buzz around the stadium during the warm-up (Which I participated in as part of ensuring confidence in my newly healed achilles). I have acted as 4th official numerous times before, including the use of the electronic board, so the role itself did not phase me, and having that previous experience was invaluable.

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The increased level of this game meant I had to be aware of two additional items: I had to keep tabs with the tunnel safety officer and TV floor manager, to allow them to communicate key match information such as upcoming stoppage time ready for announcements and TV graphics. It really gave me a great insight into what is required at the higher levels, plus of course it was an opportunity to learn from more senior match officials.

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It was a really enjoyable evening and certainly a turbocharged start to the new season. What else will the season have in store?

Tentatively back on the Treadmill

treadmill-injuries I’ve been noticing a dramatic improvement in the achilles over the last few days, now that I’m wearing appropriate footwear and tackling my severe overpronation head-on. The best way of explaining this is that I am just not really noticing my achilles during the day and there is much reduced morning soreness.

As a result, it was time to do a controlled treadmill run to see where I was. For reference, the last time I did one of these a few weeks ago, I managed about 30 seconds before I needed to stop because I could tell it wasn’t doing me any good at all.

I did 17 minutes, broken down as follows:

  1. 3 minutes – Warm-up to 8.5 km/h.
  2. 7 minutes – Run at 13.5 km/h.
  3. 4 minutes – Run at 8.5 km/h.
  4. 30 seconds – Run at 12.5 km/h.
  5. 30 seconds – Run at 15.5 km/h.
  6. 2 minutes – Cool-down.

I was amazed at how strong the achilles felt. There was a slight twinge when starting which faded very quickly, and the same when there was an increase in speed. Again, it went away pretty quickly. This was one of those situations where I could have just kept running but I wanted to avoid ‘Too Much Too Soon’, so kept it short and sweet.

Remember, I lasted just 30 seconds last time. The improvement in just a matter of days is wonderful and has given me a LOT of confidence. I actually enjoyed running! The footwear change and Superfeet are doing the business so far, and this is after months of struggling to deal with rehabilitating the injury.

Of course, an important indicator is how I felt after the treadmill session. There was no additional soreness, and when feeling around the achilles and foot it again struck me how much it has improved this week. If anything, it felt a lot more opened up. The ‘Morning After’ test was also a positive: The achilles felt better than the previous morning, and I hadn’t done any exercise then!

I did a quick bent-knee calf-stretch this morning. This has always been the stretch which really aggravated the injury before. Now I can reach my full range of motion with only a tiny feeling of discomfort, as opposed to the ‘Argh, I should NOT be doing this!’ sensation of before.

I need to stay disciplined with this, but this week has been a major step forward. I’m happy!

Achilles Ultrasound – All clear to referee (carefully!)

allclear1 I had the follow-up with my consultant this evening, now that the ultrasound on my achilles had been performed. I had been feeling pretty nervous about this as I’ve been looking forward to getting cracking on with the start of the season, and did not want any upsets!

This was the report:

No plantaris tendon was identified separate to the Achilles tendon. There is unremarkable retro-Achilles bursa measuring maximum 1mm depth. There is a strand of low and less linear reflectivity within the Achilles insertion onto the calcaneum centrally and medially, each measuring approximately 1mm deep and up to 2cm length. No increased perfusion is detected. The mid and proximal Achilles tendon and musculotendinous junction look normal. No retrocalcaneal bursitis is detected. No paratenonitis is detected. No erosion of the calcaneum at the Achilles insertion is detected. No calcification in the Achilles tendon is detected.”

CONCLUSION:

Subtle features suggestive of a couple of fine strands of tendinopathy insertional within the medial and central insertion of Achilles tendon.

Essentially, there is a tiny little tear in there which looks like it has been healing well. ‘Healing well’ is indicated by the fact that no evil calcification or other knock-on effects such as aggravation to the bursa have been happening.

I went through my recent improvements with the consultant (including the new footwear). This included the findings on my severe overpronation and the Superfeet orthotic. The good news is that he approved of all this, and in particular that the orthotic was the appropriate type. In his own words, “You seem to be fixing yourself!”.

He is happy for me to carefully resume refereeing. I have also been referred to a recommended physio (my consultant used them for his ACL tear) to work on continued strength and flexibility training.

Achilles injuries are SLOW to heal (poor blood supply), so I feel there is still a bit of a journey ahead of me with this. It will be good to get back to running and other physical training, as getting the weight down will help with all this too!

Bring it on!

Taking on my severe overpronation with Superfeet

skeleton-superfeet Recent video gait analysis (and hey, the same sort of thing done years ago) has confirmed that I am severely overpronating. Just looking at the video made me wince, and it has made all the puzzle pieces fit together regarding my achilles tendonitis.

I picked up some properly fitted running shoes at the weekend (in the correct size too, which might help, huh?), and the extra support for my achilles is immediately obvious. I got new football boots too, again in the correct size, but football boots are traditionally very neutral and do not give much, if any, support. I would be continuing to overpronate and send my achilles into oblivion.

What to do?

Well, orthotics can help with this, and my online research had turned up many positive comments about Superfeet. As a result, I popped along to Alexandra Sports to be fitted out (You can just grab them online but the personal touch is always good!).

The fitting

The customer care at Alexandra Sports was excellent. I took along my new boots so the Superfeet insoles could be fully tested. I tried both the blue and black versions. Both are designed for footwear where there isn’t a great amount of free space, even after taking out the original insoles. Football boots fit into this category!

My preference was the blue. Everything fitted nicely (the lady serving trimmed them as required) and they were really comfortable. The blue give more support so it was a done deal.

And here they are (well, one of them!):

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I also have the option of putting these in my running shoes if required. We’ll see.

I performed a quick run on the treadmill with the Superfeet fitted. Wow. NO DISCOMFORT AT ALL. This is a major win for me. Even when the achilles was feeling in a ‘good mood’ I would always be aware of it. During this test, including ramping up the speed to 15 km/h or so (which in itself demonstrated my confidence) everything felt stable. The video replay showed my overpronation had been solved to a huge degree, with my right leg looking pretty normal, although the left leg is still not ideal (it was always the worst, which is ironic considering the right leg was the one that got injured).

Next Steps

As with any shoe change, there has to be a break-in period. I’m wearing one pair of my new boots around with the Superfeet fitted: They are turf shoes (Adidas Mundial Team) which means this doesn’t look weird! I have a 4th official appointment this Friday and then an actual game Saturday.

This is all positive news to take to my consultant tomorrow evening. I just hope he agrees it is positive enough…

New season. New Boots. New Shoe Size!

mens-dress-shoe-styles-e1358203502562 The new season started today! I had the day closed due to holiday plans, so my first game is next week. However, it was time to take a look at my footwear to make sure everything was all set.

I have suspected for a while that I have not been wearing the right size football boots. I’ve had the classic sign of ‘Black Toenail Death’ in both feet. There has never been any pain involved with this but clearly it can’t be too healthy, particularly when the toenail just falls off due to a new one growing underneath it! It has always felt a bit like a scene from ‘The Fly’.

When I went to try on my boots from last season the tightness was particularly noticeable. Perhaps the lay-off in more flexible shoes has been a factor here? Feeling around the toe box confirmed my suspicions, and I could feel the shoes pushing down on my toes without doing this too. Besides, I’m a bit more sensitive to this sort of thing at the moment due to my ongoing achilles tendonitis issues, which interestingly can be caused / exasperated by, you guessed it, shoes that don’t fit properly!

It is also important to leave a bit of extra space as your feet will swell with exercise.

A shopping trip was required…

Mizuno Wave Inspire 8

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I popped along to Alton Sports. First up, I had my running gait video-analysed to see how that looked. I last had this done a couple of years ago, and the results were the same: I very obviously over-pronate. It’s quite scary looking at the slow-motion video as it made me think my ankles were going to snap off at some points!

It was then a case of picking out some shoes, and I went with the Mizuno Wave Inspire 8. Predictably, I did need a whole size higher than I had previously been wearing. They are very comfortable and a treadmill session felt very good. Certainly any achilles discomfort was minimal to zero. The whole twisting inwards motion of over-pronation is a real killer for me, and perhaps is showing another contribution as to why this happened in the first place: If I deliberately go completely the other way, i.e. only use the outside of my foot for a bit, there is no achilles discomfort at all. That’s a strong link I will be keeping an eye on!

Adidas Copa Mundial

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These boots are a real classic. The leather makes them incredibly comfortable and I’ve used them for some time. However, they were the primary cause of my beloved black toenails. I’ve also gone up a size and they feel a lot better now. Plus, mmm, shiny new leather!

These are the ones I will use when turf shoes just can’t cut it. Oh, talking of which…

Adidas Team Mundial

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Essentially, the Copa Mundials but designed for astroturf. The reality is, however, that they are suitable for most firm ground, which certainly covers football pitches at this time of year. As with the other shoes mentioned here, I needed to go up to size 12, and I was previously a size 11.

What about the Minimalism?

I’m a big fan of minimalist running: It got me over a knee injury. However, I need to do whatever I can now to get my form in good order, and achilles well supported, as part of my continued refereeing and rehabilitation. This was really the reason of getting, dare I say it, a more ‘traditional’ running shoe. The replacement football boots needed to be done anyway for the sizing reasons! I also considered trail shoes for refereeing but struggled to find any that were an appropriate colour. That’s a tricky one.

It is possible that I will require orthotics to aid with support when in my football boots, but that’s a pretty open question at the moment: My follow-up with my consultant is this week. Fingers crossed!