massage tableIt all comes back to soft tissue. Today I drove 2 hours to Portland to see a specialist in ART (Active Release Therapy), was at the clinic for 3 hours, and drove 2 hours back to Eugene. That is 7 hours of my day to treat an injury. How could anyone expect to do that if they weren’t a full-time athlete? Its no wonder so many recreational runners get sidelined by injuries for months. Sometimes it takes asking multiple experts, trying many different things, and even driving to another city when you want to solve the puzzle of an unruly body as quickly as possible. This being my livelihood, I’m at the point of knocking down doors and causing riots to get what I need.
At Stanford, we had access to this amazing clinic, “SMI,” that had several therapists who specialized in hands-on care of sports injuries. They were a company that fit in between Physical Therapy and Massage Therapy. So often PT’s don’t want to massage things for more than 30 seconds, and massage therapists don’t have certification to do more advanced techniques. Runners require one therapist that has knowledge of at least 4 or 5 different ways to skin any cat that walks in the room.
I have yet to find a replacement for SMI since I left Palo Alto. I’ve seen brilliant orthopedists, world-class PT’s, chiros with Olympic experience, myofacial experts, massage therapists that reduce me to a euphoric puddle of drool…but I’d trade them all in for one Mark Fadil.
The best runners in the United States are forming groups in specific areas. In each of these experts is one of these manual therapy gurus, holding them all together. In Portland there is Justin Whittaker; Flagstaff has Phil Wharton, Palo Alto has SMI, Paula and the Brits have Gerard Hartmann, and so on. Until we get ourselves a guru in Eugene, we are all wasting our time, in my opinion. We currently have to have three or four separate therapists going at once, relying on them to talk to each other regularly so forward progress can be made. Even in times of perfect communication, this is not the best solution. When you are healthy, having four different professionals working with you is expensive, but whatever. Everything is a breeze when you are healthy. When you are injured, you waste weeks in a system like ours. After my great experience with Whittaker today, I am more emphatic than ever that Eugene needs to get its shit together quickly if we are going to send our best Americans to the 2012 Olympic Games. The talent has moved here, now we need to take care of them properly. Spending 7 hours for one therapy session is something I’m willing to do, but it is not sustainable.