Friday, February 29, 2008

Joint Mobility Through Z-Health

Here is a picture before the start of the 1983 Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon (a full Ironman distance race). That is BAA Marathon Race Director Dave McGilliray in the blue shirt (I would later run the entire Boston Marathon with him in 2000).. The TV reporter is Robin Young - remember her?. I am the skinny guy behind Dave's right shoulder. This is the start of all the bio mechanical issues I would later have.

Back when I was just a runner (high school and college) I basically ran injury free. There were a few bumps along the way, but I didn't have to think about running, I just ran. I knew my knees knocked and I had been told I had a short leg, but I was able to run cross-country, track, and even 8 marathons in college (as well as 50 miles on the track a week after one marathon).

Then I found triathlons. There was no sports medicine that I knew of in 1983. I got a $300 bike, started swimming in the ocean and in a few months of self training did 3 triathlons including my first Ironman distance race. I fit myself to my cheapo bike and made some (years later I figured this out) huge mistakes. I twisted my saddle a bit to one side, and tried to get one bike cleat pointed away from the bike rather than straight ahead. I was trying to compensate for the short leg and the twist in my foot. For 5 years I was heavy into triathlons and still playing with getting comfortable on the bike and training my foot to pedal in a toe out position. Around and around I pedaled until my left lower back was so bad I could barely stand up straight. It was funny, I could do an Ironman distance triathlon yet constantly wanted to lie down and adjust my back. I am still trying to unravel from that damage.

Having tried every therapy and exercise I could I am now working with joint mobility through the Z-Health system. Hopefully this will get me running free again.

Here is why I like Z-Health. Z-Health is a simple set of exercises that work every joint in your body not the muscles. Having pummeled my muscles with every routine and therapy I could find, I am left with the opinion that my muscles are not the problem. If my joints are stuck and refuse to work through their intended range of motion then the Z-Health exercises will retrain them so that they can work like they are supposed to and get the correct range of motion back. When my joints work correctly then the muscles will feel better and work correctly too! Just as important Z-Health re-educates the nervous system to get rid of all those poor movement patterns. The goal is to let my body relearn how to move and not move in the way that it was trained by me when I did all those incorrect pedal revolutions on that bike.

When I first started Z-Health a month ago things improved immediately and everything felt great for a couple of weeks. After doing the two long treadmill runs my body sort of lost the plot. I was falling back into bad patterns even though I was doing the exercises.

So I called the Z-Health phone number today and spoke with Shannon for quite a while (great customer service!). I have a page chock full of pointers and tips. I tried a couple and right away was feeling better again. In brief I learned to do the exercise more slowly. I know this is mentioned in the book, but they go so quick on the DVD so I was doing them quickly all the time. I learned some different rehab positions and how to tell which direction to hold my foot. I learned a quick skin stim to recognize the joint that I am working on and to move that joint first. When I did the knee drops after doing this, it felt so much easier than the way I had been doing them previously.

So the rehabilitation goes on as I try to recover my stride. I am just a beginner at learning how this system works but it makes a lot of sense for my body. I hope my body continues to respond as well. You can learn more about Z-Health here:

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