DIARY: Functionally deficient

So, my third grade gym teacher was right after all. This concerned humanist, having observed my half-hearted attempts at participation in PE class, did not hesitate to point out to my parents that “their son may be functionally handicapped”.

This did not matter much to me for the longest time, my interest was in books and sports was something my childish mind saw as an activity for those of lesser intellectual standing and certainly beneath my notice.

Alas, here we are many years later and things are very different, and yet perhaps not so different after all. I finally had my assessment with Barry Solan and I do not exaggerate saying this was the most interesting test so far despite its relative briefness (about half an hour). In a nutshell I was asked to move into a host of different position, generally next to a strange measuring rod on the floor as Barry scribbled away between his military-precision instructions.

Mobility assessment

Sitting down after the assessment, he explained to me that every test was ranked from one (poor) to three (good) and there being seven tests you could attain a maximum score of twenty-one. Unfortunately, I had scored a measly “twelve” and if that wasn’t bad enough, the “red line” is considered to be anything below fourteen. If you score below fourteen, you are a significantly heightened risk of injury.

Cause and effect

Of course, this merely confirms what any observer would be able to conclude if they look at my injury-list for 2007-2011 (left ankle sprain meniscus tear, plantar fasciitis/heel bruise, right ankle sprain, patellar bursitis, metatarsal tip pain, more ankle sprains, tibialis posterior tendinitis, osteitis pubis, subtalar sprain, mid-foot sprain, medial tibial stress syndrome, and tibial crepitus in that order). This discounts any impact injuries.

The prevalence of “itis” simply means the athlete prefers to injure himself rather than allowing others to do it for him (such as in team sports). So it’s true that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. “Your hip mobility is still quite impaired,” he said, “especially the right”. Well, I told him that’s where the osteitis was worst. “Well, it’s not rocket science,” simple problems and now with simple solutions.

Getting up on light feet

As Tim Ferris’ writes in his book “The 4-Hour Body” if all other things are equal between two athletes, then the stronger athlete will win. Medfit has already helped me remediate my disadvantage in this area somewhat. Core strength has gone up by over 60% and my leg press during the circuits has moved from 98 to 128kg for the 20 rep sets in the Milon circuit. I am closing in on John’s target of twice my body-weight (137kg) very fast  and this is bound to be useful strength for the hills and middle-distance.

Next week I go back to get a revised strengthening program. Barry pointed out that my observation that I felt I hit the ground too hard and that very good runners were simply scooting over the ground with silent foot-fall, points to exactly the muscular deficiencies we see. Once we get me to normal my injury-rate will lower and once we get me up around 17-18, I too should enjoy hovering over the ground rather than pounding into it. The latter tendency has directly contributed to my ankle sprains, Barry deducts, “at some stage the feet just say ‘I’ve had enough of this’”.

My Medfit cooperation just keeps getting increasingly interesting and many years from now I may look back at this as the point in which I turned the corner in performance terms.

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