Running

Patient News: We're Supporting Extreme Adventurer Alex Flynn

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Patient News: We're Supporting Extreme Adventurer Alex Flynn

We're excited to be supporting extreme adventurer Alex Flynn in his challenging new project happening later this year. More on that soon! Meanwhile we’ve asked Alex to introduce himself. Here’s his story so far:

About Me

Hi, my name is Alex and I’ve had Parkinson’s disease for 11 years now. I was diagnosed at the age 36. That’s young by most people standards but it isn’t. The youngest ever diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was a two -year-old boy. I’ll let that just sink in for a second. Two years old! What kind of life is that little boy going to have?

About Parkinson’s

What is Parkinson’s? Most people don’t fully understand what it is. It’s about rigidity. The lack of being able to move. It’s not the over abundant movement of someone flailing around like an eight-legged octopus. No, that’s just over medication; the unfortunate side-effect of taking a daily cocktail of prescription drugs to mask the effects of dwindling dopamine in the brain over many years. The product of which will take away a persons’ ability to enjoy things that most people take for granted; the ability to write, to walk, speak, have sex, not to mention the psychological impact, and many more. The diagnosis of Parkinson’s hits hard.

Many people receiving such a colossal diagnosis give up, take the medication and slowly deteriorate. I had and still have no intention becoming a shadow of my former self and neither should anyone else. So what did I do?

#KeepMoving #10millionmetres

Well, I decided to #KeepMoving by taking on a challenge called 10 million metres. My intention was to traverse 10,000 km around the planet and only the events and challenges would contribute to the 10 million metre distance. There was no master plan other than to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and ultimately funds towards Parkinson’s research. That was in 2008. Between that decision and the present day so much has happened. Highlights include:

  • Completing the gruelling Marathon des Sables (250 km race across the Sahara Desert);

  • Running 160 miles across the Bavarian Alps in 52 hours;

  • Running 1,457 miles from London to Rome in 30 days to meet the Pope (400 miles of which was run with a stress fractured right tibia and completing the first 20 marathons in 10 days);

  • Becoming the first person to traverse the 3,256 miles from Santa Monica to New York using four distinct disciplines. I achieved this distance in 35 days and appeared on BBC One’s One show over two consecutive nights, raising awareness to over 10 million people worldwide and realising vital donations for charity.

  • In 2013 I crossed 200km of the Amazon Jungle, climbed and ran 90 km of the Dolomites and 236 km across the Colorado Rockies, achieving all three within an eight-week period;

  • On the 24th January 2014, the 10MillionMetres Challenge was completed at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

I’d covered a distance more than 6,200 miles around the world!

And Then

In the summer of 2015, I entered the Men’s Health USA Ultimate Guy Competition, successfully reaching the final nine competitors out of over 1,000 including Special Forces and the US Marines. I was also honoured by the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.

2016 brought a new challenge of completing 5,566 press-ups in 22 days to raise funds and awareness of PTSD, which affects military personnel and first responders. This was extremely tough as each day the target to be achieved increased by 22 push-ups on top of that which had already been achieved the previous day. I managed to continue for 18 days reaching total of 3,762 press-ups before the right shoulder gave out.

In February 2017, I returned from the Arctic after attempting a 450 km expedition of Sweden’s Kungsleden (Kings trail) in freezing temperatures of -29°C. My participation was cut short due to ripping a tendon in my right ankle. Undeterred, I had to continue and pulled a 135lb pulk and 10kg backpack across a further 25km, including two mountain passes before the onset of hypothermia.

In 2018, I undertook the brutal and extremely challenging Lost Islands Ultra in Fiji. Two weeks after finishing the Fiji ultra, I completed the Virgin Money London Marathon, notwithstanding my medication failing to work after 10 miles and running the remaining distance with muscle cramps and pain. Lots of pain!

Last September was spent in British Columbia, Canada. I had flown there to take part in Primal Quest. As part of a team, which included five times world adventure racing Champion Mike Klosser, we took on the Primal Quest Pursuit Race. An event there would take us across 240 miles of mountainous and challenging terrain including glaciers, and white water rapids situated in big Bear country. The team completed the challenge in four days and five hours.

Next Challenge

None of the above come without impact on the body, whether caused by Parkinson’s or just bad luck. Primal Quest left me with whiplash after coming off my mountain bike a total of nine times while descending the second mountain stage. This is one of a long line of injuries I have had over the years which have been treated by Paul Martin at Physio Remedies. With Paul’s help, I intend to train harder than ever before for my forthcoming challenge this September where, as part of a team of four, I will take on the world’s toughest race.

Alex will be unveiling his next challenge very soon. Watch this space!

Words by Alex Flynn, image from Alex’s website.

Injury of the month: marathon injuries

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Injury of the month: marathon injuries

With the London Marathon* approaching fast it’s a critical time for participants as they increase their running distances preparing for the gruelling 26.2 miles ahead.  It’s a time when niggles may well turn into more significant injuries so it is key to be aware of some of the common injuries; how to spot them and what to do to try to avoid them progressing and ensure you get to the starting line but more importantly the finishing line!

Here are two of the main injuries we see related to marathon training:

Shin Splints

Shin splints is a bit of an umbrella and non-specific term which refers to pain in and around the shin. There are two main areas which cause problems.

Anterior shin pain located in the muscles at the front of the shin occurs when there is excess load in these muscles and they can become inflamed, as can the fascia (the surrounding tissue around the muscle).  Typically this will be painful when pointing the toes and ankle up and during running, to the point where it can cause you to stop.

The other area is on the inside of the shin, MTSS (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome). Again the muscles and the fascia become overloaded and inflamed and here the can affect the bone as well. The tension from the soft tissue can place load on the bone which then becomes inflamed and in more severe cases can lead to stress fractures.

Resting pain, pain at night and significant pain to touch the shin may indicate a more severe injury. Poor biomechanics, inappropriate footwear, tight calf muscles, poor stability and excessive training loads are contributing factors.

ITB friction syndrome / runner's knee

Although not exclusive to runners, the above pathology is seen mainly in runners and in particular longer distance runners.  The actual cause of the pain itself is still uncertain but the consensus is that there it is from excessive friction between the tendon on the outside of the knee (Iliotibial Band tendon) and the structures underneath it attaching to the outside of the knee. 

The friction is mainly caused at about 30 degrees of knee flexion which is the approximate angle the foot hits the floor when running.  The pain is very well located to the outside of the knee, can be sharp and stabbing like.  The pain often comes on after a specific time or distance of running and can be severe enough to cause you to stop. As it becomes more intense, it may even be painful to bend the knee and not just be painful with running. 

Again, contributing factors can be, weak gluteal muscles, tight thigh and anterior hip muscles, poor running biomechanics, and inappropriate increase in training loads.

Treatment

For both of the above injuries it is important to get an early diagnosis as this will help prevent the injury from worsening. The quicker earlier intervention is implemented the better the chance that the injury can be managed for the rest of the training until race day.

A physiotherapist will be able to assess the injury and assess what the contributing factors are by having a detailed assessment of the body, the way it moves and also look at external factors such as training methods.

With not long to go, it may well be a case of reducing the training and substituting some runs with some rest and gym sessions to work on problem areas. Marathon runners often over train the running aspect and neglect the strength and gym work which is crucial to maintaining good biomechanics and reducing the load on sensitive structures.

As well as correcting any imbalances with hands on treatment, a physio will put together a rehab plan with exercises and self help advice to ensure all areas are covered.

As always, prevention is better than cure so if you'd like us to check out any issues or if you'd like a pre-marathon sports massage, call us on  02030 12 12 22 to make an appointment.

* Other spring marathons are available.

Words by Alex Manos.

FRASER CARTMELL: IRONMAN 70.3 STAFFORDSHIRE PRE RACE POINTERS

FRASER CARTMELL: IRONMAN 70.3 STAFFORDSHIRE PRE RACE POINTERS

For those of us racing Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire (and that includes me too) it is now Race Week! Hopefully the previous few weeks and perhaps months of preparations have gone fairly smoothly (we all have bumps in the road, that’s just life!) and you are now looking forward to enjoying all of your efforts on race day.

Fraser Cartmell: Starting your Tri season in open water

Fraser Cartmell: Starting your Tri season in open water

Now that the winter is well and truly behind us the triathlon season is once again upon us and is bedding in for the long haul all the way through to September and the falling leaves of early Autumn – if we allow ourselves to think that far ahead? – so let’s talk about getting back to it!