Monthly Archives: January 2015


Four days after my first physio session, I attended my second with an entirely different problem. Although my back and neck are still stiff and need more work, I was experiencing excruciating pain in my feet. After a three-hour walk the previous day, I had started to experience shooting pain in the balls of both feet. I’ve had a milder version of this problem in my right foot before, but this time it was far worse in my left foot, to the point that I could only walk by putting on my weight on the side of my foot. The pain was accompanied by the sinking feeling that I’m falling apart, and the concern that if I can’t even go for a walk without injuring myself, will I ever realistically get back to running regularly?

Thankfully John was able to reassure me. He thought he had a good idea of what was happening, and was quickly able to demonstrate by showing me the angle that my feet meet the ground. Due to restrictions in several parts of my spine, most of my weight falls on the outer edges of my feet, so walking for prolonged periods is bound to cause pain. Finding out that it’s a solvable problem made me feel so much better mentally, and by treating the problem areas of my spine again, he was able to completely eliminate the pain in my right foot, and dramatically reduce the pain in my left.

I do still feel like I have such a long way to go before my spine is “normal”, but the treatment is a fantastic temporary fix, and I am REALLY going to try and do the exercises that he’s set me, in the hope that my spine is a little more mobile the next time I see him.

I’m also going to attempt to address my “sitting” habits. I spend far too much time sitting on a sofa, working on a laptop on a coffee table, which is a complete no-no for my spine. John gave me suggestions of other ways to work at home in the absence of an ergonomic workstation, so I’m going to give them a go, and see how I get on.


I went to see John about an ongoing neck problem that had been exacerbated by a dramatic a face-plant while snowboarding a couple of weeks ago. He thoroughly tested my neck joins and clearly explained where the restrictions were, also mentioning that the restrictions could cause headaches and sinus problems. This was a relief, as I’d been experiencing terrible headaches recently, and was beginning to worry that I was developing migraines.

He treated my neck issues, which hugely improved my mobility immediately. He also assessed my posture, and we discussed why I have ongoing neck and lower back problems.

I generally just accept lower back pain as part of life, because I’ve had it for so long, despite being in reasonable shape, and doing a fair bit of yoga. But after talking to me about my lifestyle and habits, and looking at my sitting posture, John identified potential reasons for my problems. He’s convinced me that by gaining a greater understanding of my lower back, re-learning how to “sit” (which he demonstrate, but it’s so alien to me, it’s definitely going to take practice …), and generally being much more conscious of how I position my body for prolonged periods of time, I will get to the root of my issues and have a much healthier back and neck.


Something I find impossible to do with good form is 1 legged rowing:
1. Have 1 leg strapped in and leg on the floor
2. Hold the pull lightly with arms straight
3. Breathe in to sit upright
4. Tuck the tailbone in and lean back slightly
5. Push with leg away
6. Keep arms paralell and bring backwards
7. Pull leg back towards original sitting position

Having my back poked again was still so sore and my bruised knee has switched again. Had a hectic experience of having to run to save a parking fine- definitely not a good idea! Also the new cushion and blanket kit up to make my car chair more supported ended up ruffling a long journey very awkward. Don’t see how these things will help- must make sure to do stretches.


I realised returning to Physio that my ‘good’ knee is bruised and my bad knee much better. Funny knees! But very reassuring! Although the pain is still present, it’s not distinct to one malfunctioning part of my body i.e. as the pain can change my knees are repairable! Sadly I still have not learnt to perfect dynamic sitting or standing. John pointed out the part of my back that was taking all my weight and it was so sore when poked. We tried squatting on one leg which I found difficult. And then even worse we tried one legged rowing which was impossible! My homework is now to practice arm swinging which is keeping good posture while swaying and also split squats, which is squatting straight down on while keeping a bent leg supported…it’s hard to explain.

Knee of little faith #02

Consider this the first petrol stop on my road to recovery. On today’s body-fixing menu was a starter of tightness relief, a generous portion of gait analysis and a sprig of athletic literature.

The tightness was to be relieved from my lower and mid-back, from which the aforementioned nerve paths originate. The nerves innervating muscles in my leg and feet come very much in one, unfortunately unyielding, length only. Therefore, the most direct (and, when fit and healthy, the normal) route of nerve to leg components is the best. However, the tightness in my back is distorting the nerve path into a far-less direct and convoluted route around my knee. Being one stubborn, unchanging length, this new nerve path causes a restriction in movement of both my upper and lower left-sided limbs, in particular directions. My hip also lowers to, almost, provide ‘slack’ to accommodate the new path choice. For my left leg, the path shift is placing more emphasis on the side of my little toes rather than the ball of my feet as a collective, when I push off whilst running. This in turns twists my knee inwards, and, hey presto, an unhappy triathlete. Miraculously then, and with equal delight and despair, the conclusion is that my knee, in fact, isn’t the problem child of this whole ordeal, but a mere victim of circumstance. John even checked for any extensive knee damage to no avail. (I feel I should apologise to my knee for my terribly unsubtle disdain towards it over the past few weeks). Anyway, after a good back-clicking session (similar to the sound of fresh snow crunching under the weight of car-tyre) I vowed to adjust my tightness-inducing student posture (‘the slump’) to something a little more back friendly.

Of course, with any good theory, some physical evidence is very much welcome. In my case, this came from the gait analysis. After just a short stint on the treadmill, several aspects of my running gait were highlighted. The first was this hip drop on the left hand side. The other, rather embarrassingly, was the presence of a definite heel strike – as shown in the picture. For this, I blame the years of being lulled into the welcoming arms of running shoe companies and their unnecessarily, cloud-like foam heels – goodbye technique! The (most enjoyable) method of altering this is to run barefoot, which immediately forces you away from the joint-clattering heel strike to the bouncy balls of your feet. This was proven by the Mexican Indian tribes outlined in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book ‘Born to Run’, and their long-distance running prowess. Safe to say, I have already replaced my trainers with a poncho and pack of plasters.

Mid-stride evidence of a very embarrassing heel strike, found during my gait analysis ...
Mid-stride evidence of a very embarrassing heel strike, found during my gait analysis …

However, there is hope for me yet. Again, a simple posture change – namely from my lumbering, swimming-shoulder hunch to the upright, proud-athlete stance – left my running gait far more eloquent. There was even evidence of the preferred ‘cycling circles’ (more circular motion of my lower legs, which ensure mid-foot landing), as well as a nice forward tilt. Phew – I was beginning to reconsider my activity choices.

The preferred running gait: small circling legs, mid-foot landing and slight forward tilt.
The preferred running gait: small circling legs, mid-foot landing and slight forward tilt.

Overall, another very helpful and informative session to get me back on the highway to hell aka. Ironman Wales.

Knee pain not from bad knees #02

Knee pain…not from bad knees:

After practicing dynamic sitting I found out in my session today there is still lots to learn. Engaging the right shoulder muscles, moving my neck back, sitting on my sitbones…

We started with lots of stretching on the neck. For a 22 year old my neck is uncommonly tight, but re-attempting dynamic sitting seemed to make me much less stiff.

My new homework on top of dynamic sitting is to practice stretching my neck- chin to chest, while resting my head on some books. Lots of fun to be had!

picture of:Physiotherapy Hands on Treatment

Knee pain not from bad knees #01

Knee pain…not from bad knees: Assessment

For my first session physio went above and beyond. After feeling knee pain for over 6 months I was feeling anxious and disheartened that either there was no solution or the pain was all in my head. When having previously seen another Physio I was given routine knee stretches or was not taken seriously.

What was surprising to find out after extensive assessment from John is that my knee problem is not just about my knees but my neck, shoulders and feet. After seeing photos of my posture I was sadly reminded of a sloth. With just a few minutes sitting in dynamic pose already my body was responding, even with my toes were stronger.

We finished the session with looking at my car seat which needs towels and cushions to give the right support. My homework is to practice good posture and chair analysis- interesting homework for a knee problem!