Continued Ironman Training Thanks To Modern Surgery, Feldenkrais, And Lots Of Other Things Including a Well Aimed Bottle Of Beer From A Passing Truck!


Hi folks,

I was in the dentist’s office again today and a nice lady there said “Great calves! How come? Are you a runner?” Well! I do run a bit, I replied, and that got me thinking. I do run a bit, and why is it that I can still run? Just take a look at my latest injury inventory diagram:

The Author's Major Injury Profile, As Of April, 2011. Items In Red Have Been The Most Challenging, Biomechanically.

A lot of people have helped me to address my injuries along the way, with great advice on treatment of many types, from RICE to acupuncture. I hate to say this, but the worst advice came from Doctors (MDs) who seem to think that cortisone injections are the first line of defense. Find a savvy doctor, if you can. Usually Sports Medicine departments are the place to start. If your doctor is fat, smokes, and says training is dangerous (I met a cardiologist like this once!), move on.

So! I was thinking after this morning’s conversation, “to what or whom should I give the most credit for my continuing ability to swim, bike, and run and have fun?” The list is long, but I put modern surgery at the head of the list. Then Feldenkrais, to be distinguished from Functional Integration, which is only half of the brilliant Moshe Feldenkrais (what a guy!) approach to biomechanics, the other half being a system of guided movement. Then came everything else, starting with coaching. I have had five triathlon coaches so far, my son, Nigel, then Dan and Diane Shugars (no website found), Chris Haute, and now Eric Bean. They have all been great, each teaching me a slightly different approach to training. Then massage, which is really important for finding problems, stretching, martial arts, and finally the physical shock of a well-aimed full bottle of beer from a passing truck whilst riding my bike. It was remarkable that it failed to kill me with an estimated impact speed of 40 to 50 mph. Surprisingly, the severe concussion to my left shoulder dramatically improved its range of motion, which until then was severely limited due to a previous dislocation – I suspect that this was not the intention of my aggressor, but I am grateful anyway! I concluded that the beer bottle attack destroyed a bunch of small connective tissue adhesions that were limiting shoulder motion. I really do have the luck of the Devil!.

What can I say about modern surgery? Well! It fixed both of my knees, one from a skiing injury, the other a running injury, and both induced whilst excessively tired (a lesson there!) and then both knees had plica removal, and now they seem to be just fine! And most recently, my abdominal aortic stent (AAA) that I have talked about plenty, is the reason I am alive today, and the insertion of which in part was attributable to my level of self-awareness. Thank goodness I spotted the thing, which segues nicely into Feldenkrais, the art of developing self-awareness.

If you look at the diagram above, you will note two red legends. The injuries indicated by these legends posed real biomechanical challenges due to the way we run, as a system of coupled oscillators. After having the infamous cortisone injection in my right knee, my Feldenkrais instructor, Karen Dold, finally nailed the problem. Guarding that right ankle, injured 50 years previously during a motorcycle accident, resulted in continued and completely unnecessary self-induced biomechanical stress in my right knee. Karen, during my first visit about five years ago, asked me to sway from left to right gently (everything in Feldenkrais is done gently and meditatively), and then she said the prophetic words, “have you noticed that as you sway to the left your shoulder remains straight but as you sway to the right your shoulder moves slightly forward?” No! I said, and that is how we tracked it down to my right ankle tightness. After my second session I took 24 seconds off of a local hill climb, going finally from nearly four minutes to under three and a half minutes. Several weeks later I did my first sub-two hour half marathon, an improvement of over 20 minutes. Up until then I had been chipping away my times one second at a time. Feldenkrais changed the way I related to my body, and thus changed my sport, and it continues to keep me going on my Road to Kona!

Give Feldenkrais a try. It is quite remarkable, and I don’t own any stock in the business, I am just very impressed by how well it works and how few people know about it, much like abdominal aortic aneurysms!

-k @FitOldDog

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.