Joe's East Africa Trip 2012

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Saturday 11/3/2012

Back to Yaya village today. This time the audience was coaches, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other health practitioners. The agenda for the day, 'How to deduce, track, and monitor the cause and effects of repetitive motion injuries'. Through a powerpoint presentation, volunteers and demonstrations, and another extensive Q&A, I was hopeful that indeed my message was getting across.

All runners, including elite runners in East Africa, suffer from similar injuries. The causes of these injures, however, are different. In Africa, more injuries seem to occur from uneven, rocky terrain or excessive counter-clockwise running on a track, versus postural distortions from sitting at a desk, driving hours at a time, wearing an ipod always on one arm. Over-training, running through minor injuries, or excessive lateratily, though, seems to contribute equally to imbalanced forces and injury prevalance no matter where you are.

In general my message was this:

  • Minor postural distortions, caused by trauma or habits, stresses the musculo-skeletal system beyond its original function.
  • This distortion leads to a new neuromuscular-firing pattern deep in the central nervous system.
  • After 1000s of single leg jumps (running strides) per week, or millions per month, this new firing pattern alone, or in conjunction with other variables (over-training, running on cambered roads, running on track, etc), often results in the unnatural stress or strain to advance into tissue dysfunction and injury.
  • Through proper testing and tracking, corrective actions reverse this process to either return the runner to their natural posture and running form, better prepare the body to handle their individual discrepencies, or both.

(Our soft tissue system is like a spider web. One minor pull or stretch in one area causes adjustments throughout the entire web.)

As is natural, some coaches and athletes want the quick fix - how to fix the injured area with less focus on fixing the cause. The more experienced runners and coaches, however, seemed enthused to get to work with all that we had discussed.

(A demonstration on how to give a 'pedicure' ... or a navicular drop test.)

Another day at beautiful Yaya Village in the books. Off to the Ethiopian national track on Monday to demonstrate hands-on work on currently injured athletes.

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