FitOldDog’s Ginsu Guarding Problem That Goes On And On But There Might Be An End In Sight


Hi folks,

Storm during bike ride, Virginia, grave yard, FitOldDog's training,

Looks like trouble coming FitOldDog’s way during a training ride in Virginia in preparation for the Lake Placid Ironman.

Remember those old Ginsu Knife advertisements on television, years ago, with the statement, “There’s more!” They would keep on adding stuff that you would receive with your order if you just phoned right away. More and more stuff. It never stopped. Well, my guarding problem in my right leg as the result of a motorcycle accident over 50 years ago has just resurfaced in the form of severe tightening of my right calf during certain bike rides. It goes on and on! I never could work out why this would happen on certain rides and not others, and now with the help of Rebecca, my Continuum teacher, I think that at least this aspect of the issue may soon be a thing of the past. After only a few days of the toe exercises, as recommended by Rebecca, combined with using shoes with a slightly larger toe box, the tightness is fading fast. Normally it would hang on for ages. This progress permitted me to have a great training ride today in a beautiful thunderstorm in Virginia, as I taper for the Lake Placid Ironman. Here is a short video that explains what this toe thing is all about. When I broke my ankle on my motorcycle over 50 years ago, abruptly terminating my ability to compete as an amateur springboard and high board diver, it never occurred to me what problems lay in store due to the issue of guarding. The biggest problem, exacerbated by running, was with my right knee, which was finally fixed through the application of the Feldenkrais. I continued to have a range of running problems on my right side, including intermittent foot, calf, hip and lower back pain. These problems were attributable, at least in part, to the break in my ankle messing up my alignment, as I attempted to protect a region of my body which no longer needs protecting, my ankle. This is called guarding, some say favoring, and others say psychosomatic tension.

Ollie of Chez Ollie massage therapist

Ollie, Massage Therapist and thinker, of Chez Ollie.

“Chronic psychosomatic tension refers to long-term imbalances in psychic and muscular tone that manifest in the mind and body in a coordinated way.” From: Chez Ollie.

I was recently contacted by a family member, Robert, about the issue of an osteotomy, and its potential impact on his training. My immediate concern was guarding post-surgery recovery. I watched my friend and cycling mentor, Rory, go through this very same process, which is carried out to unload one of the joint surfaces in the knee due to ‘bone on bone’ erosion (usually due to running or other sports activity), onto the remaining unaffected side. Normally the medial joint surface is shot and the load is transferred to the lateral side by literally breaking and resetting the lower leg bones to shift the line of support. Not a fun process, but it clearly worked for Rory.

What worries me the most about people like Rory and Robert is that they may have gotten (great word) themselves into this situation through the application of poor biomechanics combined with lots of enthusiasm. I should know, I self-induced two knee surgeries through poor running technique in my 50s.

Water, rain, FitOldDog's ride in the rain in Virginia,

The parking lot at my motel at the end of my ride today. Isn’t water beautiful stuff, made of all those little magnets (H2O), and creating tiny crowns as each drop hits the surface, all due to surface tension because of the little magnets interacting with each other. That’s you, 70% little magnets.

Generally people are unlikely to adequately explore and fix guarding-induced biomechanical impairment through the application of appropriate techniques, such as Feldenkrais, Gyrotonic, and Continuum (there are many more), which go way beyond anything that a physiotherapist would normally provide. Due to a series of interests and hobbies, and blind luck, I was extremely fortunate to be introduced to Feldenkrais by Karen and Nancy, of Move with Elan. This opened my mind to the fact that my mental map of my body did not match my actual body map. Things weren’t where I thought they were. Then I studied spine lengthening and core strengthening through the application of Yoga, Pilates, and Gyrotonic. Most recently I have ‘suffered/enjoyed’ a ‘concerted attack’ on my poor posture by Rebecca, which is working wonders for my training.

FitOldDog’s advice to anyone undertaking endurance training, or attempting to recover from a serious injury, such as osteotomy, is to consider the application of such adjunct techniques, once the physiotherapy has been completed. In fact, it was my physiotherapist, Bruce Buley, who introduced me to Feldenkrais as an idea long before Karen and Nancy, by handing me a copy of Jack Heggie’s great running book, which is Feldenkrais-based. Perhaps my studies of Jeet Kune Do, in my 40s, also gave me a greater appreciation of biomechanics, which then opened my mind to these other methods.

This is what safe exercise for better health is all about, avoiding injuries, and learning how to work through or around those that cannot be avoided with all the help that you can get or afford.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Good title for that first photo – “Looks like trouble coming”!

  2. Good blog post, Kevin. I think that, at the age of 64, I have come to understand the root cause of my knee problems – the inside of my left hip – you would know names for the parts in there – is very tight, much tighter than the right side. Back when I was a serious runner, 30 – 40 years ago, my rt. foot would audibly slap when I ran, and I could never figure out why. Now I think it was because the tightness in my left hip kept my left leg from extending properly during the stride, forcing the right foot down a bit early. Over many, many miles this damaged the right knee, and it wasn’t good for the left knee. I can’t prove any of this, of course, but if I spend 20 minutes stretching out my hips it sure feels good.

    • Hi Rory, if you want to really run again, safely, and maybe some triathlons, you couldn’t do better than to spend a few sessions with Rebecca. It could entirely change the way you move, for the better. In West Virginia, and moving north. -kevin

  3. “Looks like trouble coming FitOldDog’s way”
    You’re not referring to the graveyard in that first photo are you!?!?!

  4. Hi Eamon, we look out into the world and see images, and our brains do all different things with them, which is the beauty of photographs as there are many interpretations. The message is ‘the rain is coming, but tempus fugit, so ride your bike anyway.’ It was a lovely storm, but not ideal for cycling in strange territory where the drivers did not seem to know how to deal with bikes – I didn’t see anyone else cycling. I am wondering how you pronounce your name. -k

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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.