One of the toughest parts into a six-week post-op rehabilitation comes in the middle of your overall recovery period. It’s when the least seems to be happening. Some progress has been made on the injury but that starts to slow down and the incremental benefits lessen. There’s also the issue of monotony, you’re not part of the squad, turning up to work virtually alone every day to be put through the same mill and wondering when it will end. I’ve been fortunate, having reached that period with my knee this time, to have a Mantality trip to a different kind of retreat, at the Argentario Golf Resort & Spa for three nights; a wellness centre in Maremma, southern Tuscany.
From past experience in being a pro player, but also a pro player who is fairly experienced in dealing with injuries, I knew that there would be a lull, and a period where it would seem like I was anticipating more progress than I was actually making. So to be able to set up a new, breathtaking environment, helped me ease the frustration of not being able to make leaps forward in my rehab.
The beauty and luxury didn’t detract from the hard work which began with a two hour gym session each morning. The gym provided everything I needed, the conditioning side was covered and the weights kitted out a large space before you reached a huge area for stretching, yoga and body weight exercises. The gym ticked a box where an elite athlete is concerned to be able to train and keep up to standards, but after the hard work was done, the environment was where the real benefit came for me.
Find the rehab program I did on the first day over there for my knee below.
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Thanks to @argentariogolf for inviting me to take my rehab over there for a few nights and check out what they have to offer. Handy to have yogi @nataliealleston on hand for the yoga each morning before my rehab. I’ve not been able to do much stretching as of late because of the lack of movement range in my knee. Before the injury 20 minutes of stretching on a night helped with soreness, sleep and chilled me out 🧠. Here’s just a few clips showing some of my rehab: Weighted hip thrusts to get my posterior chain (muscle group down the back of the body) active again. The meniscus repair in my knee is around the same attachment of where my hamstring is, so after about 6 weeks I have just started to progress with this after the healing has reached a certain point. Romanian deadlift is predominantly hamstring but also helps to start putting load through my knee. Body weight step up. Doesn’t look much but starting to isolate mostly my quads and incorporates a lot of stability around the knee joint with hips starting to come back in to play again. I also used the occlusion cuff too. This is blood flow restriction training and, involves restricting blood flow in the veins of a working muscle for gains in size and strength. I was gonna put a video of me using it but it goes high up on my quad and you have to pump the cuff up. It looks like the white goodman scene out of dodgeball… The change of environment for a few days was important. A lot the reason for why @argentariogolf worked was because it allowed the physical work needed but it’s also big to get a bit of space mentally to create a plan of attack when returning back to the step up in rehab routine. Incredibly lucky to get to a setting like @argentariogolf for this. Article coming soon.
Not just the weather but principally the facilities provided by an advanced spa which included a Thalassotherapy semi-circular pool at knee level, allowing you to walk around and combining ice cold water interchanging with warm. It’s known as a Kneipp circuit, named after Sebastian Kneipp’s experiments, which found that alternating the temperature generated benefits for the circulation. The water is also rich in minerals and water jets at a pressure that helps the legs to oxygenate. Ultimately, this improves the circulation and the blood supply to the organs, skin, central nervous system, as well as stimulating and reinforcing the immune system.
I’ve just had my 4th operation on my knee. My medial meniscus has been pretty angry it would be fair to say, so when I saw the chance to give it a bit of love and a bit of circulation, I spun round this circuit for a while… After that I did a yoga session with my partner Natalie outside on the deck with an incredible view and then explored the region.
After all my rehab and work in the gym was ticked off, we had breakfast overlooking the rolling hills. The hotel is designed to allow guests to be able to peer across the greenery and ocean on the horizon all of the time. You can always feel the tranquil effects of being immersed in nature, but the trip up to the deck for breakfast with it opening up to that view was my favourite part of the day. I have to try and keep weight on when I’m injured, especially on my skinny right leg. A recurring theme from my travels is the shock on the staff’s faces when I order my breakfast. 6 poached eggs is pretty normal right? I have to load up on the eggs because I’m a bit specific about getting the protein in in the morning, but then I also probably ate a little too much cheese and bread whilst waiting on the order… Italians love their carbs. Time to train again…
Me and my partner Natalie picked up a car from the airport ready to drive on the other side of the road and shift gears with the other hand. I feel like I also shifted a gear mentally being able to take in everything at Argentario Golf and Spa resort but also the surrounding areas. We ventured over to the hot springs in Saturnia. Writing this, I’m pretty sure that not everyone knows about these particular hot springs. But they are natural hot tubs with water streaming down from a waterfall above. Hot springs are created by the groundwater being heated up by magma from the earth. It then rises back up to the surface through cracks in earth’s crust forming a hot spring. The result you get, is a pretty crazy place to look at, with other baffled tourists and then you get to lounge around warming up under the Tuscan sun but also through the magma heated water.
More than anything, mentally getting away from the Kirkstall Training Ground routine had the greatest benefit and reaffirmed how even just that can help massively with recovery. The saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ is really true. The food too in that region is amazing and I saw a slogan in the hotels’ Dama Dama restaurant menu which perfectly summed the philosophy up. It said, the resort was solely centred on, ‘the pursuit of wellness and the respect for environment’ and that fits me to a tee. They also know the value of fresh ingredients and healthy diet, I always forget that when you travel, how much a bearing the food has on your experience, it was the same going to India.
Everything in the resort is sourced locally with the olive oil coming from the golf course and I loved it, especially the wild boar ragu and the pasta, which is so different from what we get here – and as for the fresh fish and seafood…second to none.
Seeing this superb complex and it’s setting, I naturally assumed that it would be part of a chain but it’s a family-run business and it may be that we will go and do Mantality retreats over there including yoga, fitness and mental health programmes – it’s the perfect place for groups who want to better themselves amongst top class facilities. It has definitely hastened my return, the perfect bridge to stepping up to the next phase, it worked really well psychologically, I’m in a better place after suffering the frustration of being injured again.
On the plane over to Pisa, I decided to write a ‘Start With The End’. It’s where you write out your perfect day. Hour by hour. No matter how ridiculous it is. Almost use another version of yourself that would be having the most fun and most fulfilling time ever, no matter what your routine is now. It helps to have an end goal and vision. I don’t need to say how whacky mine was just yet, but I will say that what I wrote about where I lived, seem to match exactly what was shown to us during our stay. We were shown some unbelievable new villas and plots which are soon to be completed. They overlook the golf course and these villas will include use of the hotel and are submerged in their own private part of the surrounding forest. Anyway, a house, with room to entertain friends and family, in the countryside overlooking the sea was in my ‘Start With The End’. Just throwing it out there.
Argentario Golf Resort & Spa are now offering their own version of well being escapes. There is a customised full board at the hotel, massage treatments and an hour with a personal trainer. The visits with a nutritionist conclude a pretty precise diet to take on when you are there, along with a re-education in nutrition, but the mediterranean way, which I hear is meant to be the healthiest type of diet, barring the bread.