If you’re wondering what the above featured image is… it’s an x-ray of a broken tibia, one that requires fixation from a rod and screws, often a life changing injury. It’s the hardware that no runner wants.
Few of us have a clean record. Our past medical history is littered with broken bones, surgeries, and a host of less severe injuries. It shapes who we are, but also how we move. Your body is amazing at many things; a top that list is the ability to adapt. These adaptations are ambiguous. You will rarely know they are happening. It’s a catch 22 really. These adaptations allow us to do amazing things, but they also provide an opening for overuse. A perfectly executed ambush can cost you days, weeks, or even months of training.
In an effort to keep things lighthearted, let’s focus on the amazement of the human body. Meet Gordon. Gordan has been working with our RunSmart team for a few years now. We are hardly here to take credit for anything he has accomplished, all the work has been done on his end. We simply identified his needs and put him on the right path. Gordan has one of those stories that truly shows the “I can do it” spirit coupled with the body’s ability to adapt.
Gordan has one of those interesting medical stories. Leap back 12 years, Gordan rounds a corner and is mugged by the bottom feeders of society. (I actually joked with him before I knew the full story and asked him if he broke his leg street fighting-whoops!). What could have ended relatively safe, maybe the loss of a phone and a wallet, ended with a snapped tibia. “As two of them pulled me to the ground, a third was stepping on my foot, cementing it to the sidewalk.” The anchored foot resulted in an often life changing injury. The force of Gordon falling to the ground snapped his tibia like a thin tree branch. Within 24 hours Gordon was taken to surgery for fixation via rods, plates, and screws. Not exactly the hardware any runner wants to bring home!
Friends, family, and doctors hinted that he would never run again. Gordon ran in high school and college, but was on a hiatus when the injury happened. “It took me awhile to get back into running, it went in spurts,” says Gordon, “I started to seriously run again two years ago, I somehow got in my head, ‘hey I should try and run a 1/2 marathon.’” His first race back was anything but pretty, but it was enough reignite his running flame.
He crossed our path two years ago (10 years post injury), reaching out for a run evaluation. Gordon admits he spent little time working on strength or balance since graduating from physical therapy nearly a decade prior. It showed. With most injuries, old or new, it’s not difficult to find dysfunction. Gordan came to us with significant weakness and balance restrictions–not a shocker given his injury. With a trained eye you could see the lack of stability as Gordan walked or ran. In the short term, his impairments would not cause injury, but certainly could without specific, functional programs to teach his body how to handle the repetitious impact of running.
Make no mistake; Gordon has worked hard to become a well-rounded runner. His injury will require him to do so. The important thing is that he was proactive, not reactive. He spent time at our bootcamps, online and off. “The online information is great! I have countless times pulled out my phone to quickly watch how to do a drill or stretch,” Gordan confesses, “the convenience of the bootcamp videos has allowed me to do the classes on my time.”
Gordan is doing great, gearing up for his first full marathon and logging up to 70 miles a week. He feels healthy and strong, “besides from some general soreness I have no injuries.” Gordon has even discovered a new passion, “the knowledge and enthusiasm of the way you guys have presented all material is very contagious to me. This has helped spark a real love for running.”
Other runners have their stories to tell. Pins in their hip, knee scopes, and sciatica are on the resume of more runners than you think. Are you not falling into that category? Well impairments in strength and flexibility can be found somewhere. It’s inevitable. The important thing is to pay it forward. As little as 30 minutes a week can be enough to maintain strength and balance, giving you the best shot to staying healthy.
What’s next for Gordon?
Gordon is gearing up for his first full marathon. He will be racing ‘Grandma’s Marathon’ in Minnesota and is hoping to run a 3:05 or better, qualifying him for Boston. He was analyzed by RunSmart 2 years ago and continue to maintain and build his strength through our online site and in-clinic bootcamps.