Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015 Boston ElliptiGO Group Ride

Sunday, the day before the Boston Marathon, a group of ElliptiGO riders from around the country got together for a group ride. I made it to Boston a little late, but found my friend Jeff in the parking garage and we were able to find the rest of the group halfway through their ride out by the Charles River. We had a sunny day to ride and then had time to enjoy a lunch together. Here is a short video I made showing us taking over the streets and pathways of Boston.

filmed using the Polaroid XS100 Extreme Sports Camera

photos by Jeff Caron

Next weekend is the ElliptiGO Spring Classic Race held at Castle Hill in Ipswich, MA.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Two days after first Prolotherapy injections

I am also really happy to finally get to ride my ElliptiGO outdoors
this week after riding 1300 miles on the indoor trainer since January 1.

Wednesday, I had my first prolotherapy injections for my si joint and lower back. What I expected was that I would be sore for a day or two and beyond that feel nothing new. I was told it may not be until the third set of monthly injections that I notice any difference and would be able to tell if it works for me or not. My doctor also said that for a very small percentage of people it works right away even after the first injection. Prolotherapy involves injecting a substance into ligaments that make them inflamed and starts them on a healing process to tighten them up. The osteopath I went to in order to put my si joint back in place before the injections says it is like fusing the joint back together.

Since I started having si joint problems when I started competing in triathlons back in 1983, I knew this was a chronic problem for me (and it led to a torn hip labrun that I had surgery for in 2011 to repair). The injections weren't as painful or plentiful as I imagined. When I got down to my car 20 minutes later to drive home, I thought my pelvis area was feeling better, but it could be due to the lidocaine or whatever medicine they put in the shots for pain-relief.

After an hour drive home, I felt pretty good, and the injection sites were not that sore at all. As I walked around, I felt as if the bones of my hips and low back had been tightened up, but the muscle around them had been loosened from their tightness. It was a good feeling. I was more steady and solid on my feet instead of feeling off and twisted like I usually do. Again, I think the medicine or just the positive feelings of taking care of business (finally) had my feeling good.

I didn't exercise that day (as suggested) and while I was a bit sore that night (nothing as bad as when my hips are tight and out of alignment), I woke up still feeling good. I noticed that my roll out of bed was easy. I usually can't stay in control of twisting out of bed or into or out of a car because there are certain parts in my lower back that feel dead. I walked around all day with what felt like a new left side, I was in control of my hip movements on that side. It felt like my left (bad) hip had been zipped into place and was now pulled back where it belonged. I assume this was because of the si joint and not the hip, but that is how it felt. As I walked, my hip worked normally, something I am not familiar with at all. It was really weird and the knee (popliteus) tightness and tightness on the bottom of my foot had disappeared. My left leg was moving and holding my weight normally right down to the bottom of my foot. Gone was the twisting and off balance feeling I am so accustomed to. I haven't felt this way in years- dare I say since 1983, I do not understand this and expect it to all fall apart soon, but I rode my ElliptiGO the next day for 15 miles and 24 miles today with no changes in how good I feel. I also felt more balanced on my ElliptiGO, although not perfect, something I have been struggling with since the summer. Everything is working better!

I did not expect this at all and don't expect it to continue, how can it? I keep thinking the ligaments will stretch out again or something else will start hurting or fall out of place, but for now I am enjoying what feels like the start of a new body. Basically, I always felt something messed up in my left hip (could it have been the laxity in the si joint that threw everything else off) and that there seemed to be a piece missing in my left lower back that made it always feel like it was collapsing just a little bit (no strength there). Could those little injections already have started to tighten things up. They aren't supposed to take full effect for 4-6 weeks. Was it more the relaxing of a big spasm when she put the needle into my lower back? That even surprised the doctor.

What I do know is that I can feel better, if only for a few days and I feel really good that I am on the right path. What I don't know is even if this eventually makes me as strong as an ox where the ligaments made me weak, if I will ever be able to run pain-free again or even run again. Who knows what will happen when I start to run. I definitely am not going to try doing that yet. I will let things heal and just be patient. If it all falls apart tomorrow and I lose all these good feelings and improved movement and balance, I will not be disappointed, because this just shows me that I can get back to a more balanced body that is strong and working on both sides. I am just really perplexed at how quickly things started to feel so good! I would be extremely happy to feel this good for the rest of my life as it feels like a breath of fresh air to this constantly twisted painful body. I don't go back for my second injection until the middle of May. It will be interesting to find out what happens to my body in the next few weeks. Let's just say that this little experiment is making me very happy, as I was extremely worried that I might just be wasting money I didn't have, to try out some new type of therapy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Three Alignment Exercises for Pain-Free Running and First Prolotherapy Injections

Here are three new exercises to try that work on improving your alignment for better and more pain-free joints when running. I had my first prolotherapy injections today, so I am not ready to try these yet, but once the ligaments around my si joint and hips tighten up again. I hope to get my alignment under control. These come from MaryAnn Berry and feature ideas from Posture Align Therapy.

A common myth is that running is bad for your joints because it is high impact and leads to joint wear and tear. But if you are experiencing this pain or joint wear and tear, consider that running is not the culprit.

In truth, your body is simply out of alignment, kind of like a car that needs an alignment. Your car’s tires (or your knees) wear unevenly and eventually need to be replaced or repaired. While that might work for your car, it’s not a great plan for your joints.
These three simple alignment exercises are no quick fix, but they will help get your joints into a better position before you run.

I had my first Prolotherapy injections today to my left si joint and lower back. I only felt a few injections, but my doctor used guided flouroscopy (I think) to move the needle around to hit the ligament attachments on the bone. I had a big spasm from the injection in my lower back. The injections are supposed to make me sore today, but I feel pretty good. Actually the lidocane, or numbing agents, has my hip and pelvis feeling more stable and better aligned (it could be just my positive thoughts!) I will need to go in monthly for a few months before we know if it works for me. A small percentage of people feel better after just the first set of injections. It does not immediately heal things, it inflames the area around the joint so that it can jump-start healing. As my osteopath said, "It should make it like the si joint fuse together." My hope is that strengthening the joint helps with my instability and then I can better deal with my imbalances and misalignments. The doctor does say that after all is done, I may need PRP or stem cell treatment in my hip joint.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, the Unknown Runner, wins the World's Cross Country Championships

Well, I stayed up to around 3:00 am Friday night watching the 2015 World Cross Country Championships held in Gioyang, China. Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor (the World 1/2 Marathon champion) of Kenya won the men's race.

Nineteen year old Agnes Jebet Tirop won the women's race. The Kenyan's and Ethiopians dominated all senior and junior races.

There is a documentary on Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor called The Unkown Runner.


About a Kenyan top athlete, Geoffrey Kipsang, how he trains, paces for Haile
Gebrselassie and makes his debut on the marathon of Berlin 2012.

I will probably be purchasing it and watching it next time I want to watch a movie. He is definitely a runner to watch.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Self-treat your body with techniques similar to Graston and ASTYM

I have met all sorts of therapies in my quest to recover my stride. I have found out that a lot of my muscle type problems result from far deeper problems in hip/pelvis/si joint area and my own peculiar body: femoral anteversion, mild dysplasia, and tibial torsion (all strangely on the left side of my body). Because these problems throw my body into its own method or sorting out a running stride added together with years and years of running, I have dealt with all sorts of tight muscles due to the compensations my body created..

I became a interested in all sorts of foam rollers, massage balls, and other techniques to try to get my body back out of pain, tightness, imbalances and distortions. I have more rollers and other devices than many PT offices that I have been in. I think a few corners and closets in my house protect the huddled masses of all sorts of these implements and tools.

I had a few PT sessions with therapists who performed Graston or ASTYM therapy. The real basics are that they use speciallly made tools to scrape over your muscle tissue, tendons, or ligaments to address scar tissue and fascial restrictions. I have had it on my lower legs and feet as well as the hip area and back of the knee. The therapist rubs over the tissue. By the end of a treatment, you can be a bit sore and the tissue can be red and inflamed, but it does loosen things up quite effectively. One major reservation I have with these sessions is that it is usually limited to just one spot on your body. I would think that they would look over your whole body to find tightness and try to resolve them like a massage therapist would.

I often wondered if this was a treatment you could do at home (like foam rolling). Late last fall, I ordered a product called the Mobility Star to try it out. I would caution against doing anything close to attempting what a trained therapist does, but I was curious about working on my own muscles. The Mobility Star is similar in some ways to the professional tools, but I do think the corners and edge surfaces are much rounder and more gentler on your body tissues. When researching before trying this out, I also found this inexpensive Kindle book, An Introduction to Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, which gives some excellent guidelines and directions if you want to try self-treatments. It goes over what to do for various muscles and I would consider it a must-have book if you are so inclined to try this.

In fairness, I have not really gotten deep into this as I am in a do-no-harm phase of just trying to keep my body pain-free. I do keep the Mobility Star handy for when a muscle feels tight. I find it much easier to use than a roller or a massage ball on tight muscles around my legs (like a strong thumb), particularly around my shins. It can get directly into any tight tissue that bothers me and it gives much better leverage. When I am slightly bothered by something that is tight, I just pull it out, work on the muscle for a few minutes, and usually I feel much better. I haven't used it much as the book suggests as a way to do ASTYM, but when I have, I do it very lightly as the book suggests. It is not about how deep you can go. One interesting thing to note is that you learn to feel the vibration of you tissues as the tool helps you find what needs to be treated.

I have also found similar and cheaper versions of this tool, like the EDGEility Tool, the Myofascial Releaser - MICRO Tool for IASTM, as well as Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tools . You can also find more expensive (and probably more precise tools).

Here is an introduction to the Mobility Star:

This video shows some techniques for using the Mobility Star:

Here are some more tips and techniques:

Good luck, if you try doing this. I think that someday, these or similar tools will replace the foam rollers and massage type balls that have become very popular today. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spinning Students Learn Self-Regulation

There is something special about exercise! As a running fanatic for all of my life, I have always tried to share my enthusiasm with others, particularly my students. It is not just the movement of running that I enjoy, nor the health benefits, but there is something else that makes it special. I used to get terrible headaches when I was a kid. They interrupted my life throughout childhood, until I started running cross-country in ninth grade. The headaches went away and upon reflection, I am quite sure they were related to stress. When I am out on a run or riding my ElliptiGO, I can solve problems, think creatively, and keep my whole world in working order. This is a guest blog post by myself. It comes from my teacher's blog and reflects something cool that I am doing in my classroom. I recently added a classroom spin bike to my fifth grade class. It is not really for fitness, but for something called self-regulation. As my class cycles through 5 minute spins on the bike throughout the day, I hope they are learning the benefits of movement to relieve stress, help with focus and attention, deal with anxiety, and to calm down when overwhelmed.  The bike is a huge success with my students and is gaining attention throughout my school. Already there is talk of other teachers at my school getting spin bikes in their own classrooms.

Using a Classroom Spin Bike to Learn Self-Regulation 
I have always liked to exercise and have been a long time competitive runner ever since running  cross-country during high school. I have competed in about 50 marathons and 5 Ironman distance triathlons among hundreds of other races, so I love the challenge and the competition, but there is something more that I gain from exercise. A daily workout of an hour or more helps me solve problems, think creatively, and deal with the stresses and pressure of daily life (particularly when teaching). That appreciation for movement is something I have always wanted to add to my classroom environment, but how do you get your students to understand the benefits of movement and exercise?
You can read my entire post here: Using a Classroom Spin Bike to Learn Self-Regulation

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What the Osteopath said!

The doctor that will be doing prolotherapy on my si joint the first week of April (if I elect to do this) wanted me to get my joints realigned by an osteopath before I come in and just so happened to recommend one that has office hours three miles from my house. So I went today, did the quick history thing again, and she did the maneuvers that got some pops out of my joints so that I am hopefully realigned. However in checking me over she wasn't so sure my si joint is the cause of my problems since when she pushed on it I didn't feel pain. She said that because of my funky left leg mechanics, when I run it puts a lot of torque  on my body and pelvis and when I was younger I could compensate more easily, but now that I am older my body can't handle it. In other words, I am an old man! I agree with that the torque causing problems, but I am still not sure the prolotherapy couldn't help. I asked her and she said it is like "fusing" the si joint together and it may improve things. Well, that is the point! I will see if the adjustment helps over the next two weeks before I go back again (unless I get a call to come in for the prolotherapy as I am on the wait list if someone cancels). Well, I guess I am officially an old man!

Is this what the doctor's see when I go in for appointments?