MAXINE GORDON visits York's new one-stop clinic to get fit and active again

I WAS feeling rather down in the dumps as I waited for my appointment with Dr Jonathan Power, a consultant in sport and exercise medicine in York.

I am a keen tennis player, and play in the local leagues, but have been struck down with a leg injury that has been ongoing for a couple of years.

When it flares up, I take a break from playing, and as soon as it starts to feel better, I hit the courts again and return to jogging.

But before long, the tell-tale aches appear: notably discomfort at the top of my calf on going up and down stairs and pain in my backside and down my leg after sitting for a long time. Considering my job requires me to plump myself in front of a computer screen for hours at a time and I have two flights of stairs in my house, my injury was causing me more grief off the court than on.

Something had to be done.

I'd seen my GP a couple of years ago, who referred me to a physiotherapist. I was diagnosed with a high-hamstring tendinopathy – a real mouthful, I know, but it basically meant an inflammation at the origin of the three hamstring muscles. Apparently, this type of tendonitis can be tricky to treat. I was given some tough exercises to do to strengthen my glutes, and things improved.

But then I started getting aches at the top of my calf, and tightness behind my knee. Kneeling and sitting back on my heels and using the stairs was painful and sometimes my left leg felt as stiff as a board. My right leg felt fine.

I was contemplating what to do? Give up tennis and take up something less impactful was top of my list when I had my appointment with Dr Power.

He works at a new private clinic, Yorkshire Sports Medicine, based in a former sports shop at the entrance to the David Lloyd sports centre, off Hull Road, in York.

It is a collaborative venture between several Yorkshire medics including York GP Dane Vishnubala, who will qualify this summer as a consultant in sports medicine too.

Such specialists are pretty rare, points out Jon during my consultation. It's a relatively new medical specialism – the Government invested in this field at the time of the 2012 Olympics, he says, in the belief that there would be a surge in people becoming more active, and therefore, more injured.

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EXPERTS: Dr Dane Vishnubala, left, and Dr Jonathan Power at Yorkshire Sports Medicine in York

Both Jon and Dane have an impressive background in sports medicine: Jon currently works with England Football and has previously held posts with England Rugby, Leeds Rhinos and worked with Team GB at the London Olympics. Dane is the chief medical officer for England Basketball, York Knights and is a team doctor for York City, GB Basketball Men's Senior Team and is also a consultant for the Football Association.

Jon and Dane are supported by a team of physiotherapists at the clinic, the idea being that once the consultant has diagnosed your problem, the physios can work with you on a programme to get you fighting fit.

Dane says: "The idea is that we can give someone the same level of care if they were attached to a premier league sports team."

Such expertise comes at a price: a session with Jon costs £200, while a physio appointment will set you back £40-£50. Many private health insurance packages will cover treatment costs.

Other services offered include sports massage, MRI and ultrasound scans, joint injections and shockwave therapy.

My 45-minute consultation began with Jon taking a history of the problem, followed by an examination. He watched me balance on one leg, do calf stretches and attempt a squat (difficult when one of your legs is as rigid as a stick of rock).

On to the couch, he checked the flexibility in my hips and the movement of my knees. He got me weight-bearing on to one leg and soon diagnosed a serious lack of strength in my left hamstring muscles.

Considering the intensity and frequency of the activities I like to do – tennis and jogging – my hamstrings were not nearly strong enough, he said.

But there was hope. The right sports physio programme could help. "But we are talking a long time – at least six to 12 weeks" he said.

The next stage was to have a physio appointment. I had a session with the clinic's lead physiotherapist Sarah Rayner. She undertook a thorough examination and showed me some vital stretching and strengthening exercises, including crucially how to do the perfect lunge (make sure your knee is aligned over your second toe). She advised to to introduce some short sprinting and stopping, hopping and skipping and to continue to build up strength in my hamstrings.

It's all hard work, but I'm determined to keep going. I have some tennis matches to play.

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