Sorry again for a gap between posts but managing multiple forms of media is hard work. I promise that my podcast, Think Fit comes out weekly and you can hear the sweet tones of my voice directly in your ear if you download and listen!
I am sure this will come as no surprise to you but did you know that your body is a complex set of parts. In order to obtain peak performance you need them to all be working not only well, but well together. It is amazing how a slight breakdown in one of the systems in your body can have a huge impact on the rest of your body. Like how a niggle in your calf could lead to problems somewhere completely random like your lower back or possibly even your neck and shoulders. Look to be honest I don't know if that is the best example I have ever used but I’ll tell you all something, I have become increasingly well aware of the way these complex and often unrelated systems can affect the rest of your body. I will tell my story of woe now.
I have been complaining for a few weeks (months) about my shoulders giving me grief. Weeks ago when the coach of squad was sick he left us with a set of 40x100m in the pool. The first 10 were a warm up but the last 30 were all on a 1:30 cycle (this means complete the 100m and take a rest and leave every 90 seconds.) Now I can hold 1:30 cycle for maybe 12-14 100s before I start to drop off but I thought to myself no. If you want to improve you need to dig deep. Now let’s be honest, I did not hold the 1:30 cycle for the 30. All I know is I swam those 30x100 (the last 10 with paddles and buoy) as hard as I could and limped home. I think the last couple really blew out. After this swim my shoulders weren’t great. I thought little of it and continued on my merry way.
Now that was my left shoulder. My right shoulder has been giving me grief for literally 18 months now. This isn’t some ongoing sport injury, instead it is a sleeping injury. As ridiculous as this sounds, the way I sleep aggravates my shoulder. I went to a physio last year to try and get it sorted. I followed all of the exercises ( I was having the same problems with my left shoulder that I am now) and was told if I slept differently it should get better. I changed the way I slept but the issue didn't go away. But wait! There’s more! I had a bike fit a few months ago at 3D Bike Fit and trust me when I say Ryan is the best of the best. During my fit (where they work out the best way for you to sit on your bike for aerodynamics, comfort and power) Ryan told me he thinks I am not using my glutes when I ride and this is why I have such big calves, trust me they are hideous! We then jump ahead to a few weeks ago when I joined my new swim squad, One Body. I have only done the one session with them so far and any concern I had about joining a new squad was quickly removed when Dan pulled me out of the pool after a couple of laps and said, is your shoulder ok? Surprise surprise my left shoulder had become super tight and was a factor at Sunny Coast. In fact it was such a problem that I had booked myself in an appointment with a new physio to hopefully get it fixed once and for all.
This time around I wanted to find a physio who really understood my sport. The first physio I saw years ago was heavily involved with soccer, the last physio I saw was involved with different forms of rugby. They were both fantastic but if I really wanted to get this sorted than I wanted to see someone who understood the exact demands of triathlon. Not swimming, not cycling and not running. Why? Well swimmers may have shoulder problems and guess what causes them? Swimming but a triathlete can have other factors that impact the shoulders like sitting in your aero position where the shoulders can bear the load. One of my new athletes that I coach, Luke ( a subtle plug for my coaching) had told me he had been seeing a guy at Precision Athletica. The way he told me was like EVERYONE knows about this place. I had never heard of it. He told me that his physio was going to be in touch with me (which is pretty normal when your athlete visits a physio.) So when I got an email from Matt I looked him up. The first thing I noticed was this guy was a triathlete!
I have poured over Sydney physio sites and can count on one hand how many physio sites mention their staff are triathletes. I also really liked the sound of Precision Athletica, they refer to themselves as a ‘private institute of sport.’ So when I needed an appointment I booked myself in to see Matt Sweeney.
So I went for my first session and explained what was going on and much like the first time I met with my Dietitian, Chloe Mcleod (the best in the business) the first few questions he asked me made me realise he understood my sport. This instantly eased my mind. I mean for me, as a student, these sort of appointments are a big financial cost so I really want to make sure I am utilising my limited funds as best I could. After the first session, I had the first pain free night sleep I had had in 18 months. From that first appointment my expectations have been exceeded constantly. From the fact that the General Manager gave me a courtesy call to see how I found everything to the fact that I am having everything explained to me and we are able to be complete triathlon nerds for the entire time we spend together. I am a huge fan. But this isn’t me giving a plug my new physio office. I was talking about interdependency.
This week I went in for a whole body analysis. Matt put me through a whole range of tests where we checked the functioning and range of motion on all the major joints and muscles and guess what we identified! Obviously my shoulders aren’t great but my right hip is not good enough and my hamstrings are way too tight. Add in the glutes which aren’t activating on the bike and you might wonder how I manage to ride 90km at around 40km/h. But that isn’t what surprised me the most. Remember when I said Dan from One Body pulled me out of the water and asked if my shoulder was tight? Well he also said that he thought that my glutes were not working probably and I also probably had issues with my hips and hamstrings. This was forcing my legs to drop in the water which in turn was causing my shoulders to work in ways they really aren’t supposed to which is why they were causing me problems!
So what is the whole point of this long-winded explanation of what is happening in my life? This is the first time that I have seen a physio who understands the demands of my sport and because of his knowledge of the demands of triathlon. Not swimming, not cycling, not running. Matt was able to use that knowledge to really try and identify the root cause of my shoulder pain and come up with a strategy to not only fix my shoulder, but to also get my body functioning the way it is meant to. Surely by fixing these fundamental issues before they become injuries I will not only be back to 100% faster, I will also be able to go even faster than before because my body is working exactly how it is meant to!
So as I always leave you with a final thought this week I will say, find a person who understands exactly what it is you want to have fixed then deal with the cause instead of just the symptoms. By doing this you will have an easier time when you remember to TRI!