This year I was able to be, again, involved in the Dublin Ironman event. The Dublin Ironman is a half Ironman and the route normally involved entering the Irish sea for the swim at DunLaoghaire. After a 1.9 km swim participants will transition over to the bike section which involves a 90 km cycle up the Wicklow mountains. The last section is a 21.1 km run back towards and around DunLaoghaire finishing close to the starting point of the race. If this is a half Ironman you can imagine how physically exhausting and mentally challenging full events are as well as something as, to be frank crazy as the Kona Ironman race in Hawaii, which is a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km cycle and 42.2 km run in searing heat and hostile terrain.
Those in the event range from professionals, seasoned veterans, triathlon club members, endurance sport activists and then some of the most normal people who decided this was to be their new obsession for the coming year. Prior to race day I spent the 2 days beforehand dealing with various cases and individuals with issues ranging from simple checks on niggles, strapping, soft tissue work and full on consultations and real down to the wire decisions regarding if a certain person could compete in the race. The two days beforehand were long and tiring but being able to prepare so many people for such an event felt great.
On the race day myself and seven other therapists set ourselves up well before the end of the race was even in site. our first patient of the day had injured themselves in the water which was incredibly choppy on the day. The slow and steady stream of people who had injured themselves during the race and those professionals who had finished the race in an inhuman time suddenly became droves of being being accessed, looking for soft tissue work and even a few being stretch out because the could no longer do it themselves as a result of exhaustion. From 8:00 am in he morning until nearly 5:30 pm we provided care to a large number of the participants.
The Ironman event is such an endurance event that even the therapists are exhausted after it all. The event makes you feel like you can really do any kind of event. For all the people who loved and hated the training process you were hard pressed to find a single participant who wasn’t happy that they choose to compete, maybe only a few disgruntled partners and family members not as enthralled in the sport having to wait an entire day for the event. Yet the comradery expressed in the event and the dedication needed and shown by so many people, you can only appreciate and admire all those who decided to undertake the event.
This was my second year involved with the Ironman, in different roles between both roles and I definitely hope to involved again in the future especially with events such as the first full Ironman event being held in Cork in 2019 and the Hell of the West triathlon which I have been persuaded to train and enter next year.
Last week I attended the Faculty of Sports & Exercise Medicine (FSEM) conference at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland. This year the Conference had a focus point in the return to play post shoulder injury. For those of you that don’t know what FSEM is – it’s an annual gathering of doctors, surgeons, researchers, physiotherapists, and of course athletic therapists, presenting findings from studies as well as new methods of rehabilitation and surgical interventions to conditions and injuries. We basically come together to discuss the latest developments in the field of physical health. This allows for a body of knowledge, that would normally never be dispersed to be tangible for all.
There was some savage speakers this year. With the likes of Eanna Falvy, the Irish rugby team doctor who spoke about on field management and the occurrence of shoulder injuries in rugby. He interestingly spoke about how rugby has evolved from its beginnings to something barely comparable to what it once was pre professional era. Body size, strength, play style and aggression have all lead to an increase in injuries especially those in the shoulder where the ideal of aggressive rugby in the breakdown via the poaching of a ball and active clear out has lead to an increase in shoulder injuries. He also spoke of the need to prepare athletes for the season ahead of them as you cannot prepare the athlete mid season, when training load and type are dictated by schedules and physical conditions there and then.
Edel Fanning described the return to play for contact athletes after shoulder stabilisation surgery. She described how the loading of the uninjured side and reductions in strength from one side to another or from internal to external rotators can make it difficult for athletes to return to a position where equilibrium is achieved once more. She also showed how rather than basing rehab plans off pre described time frames and rather base it off objective and measurable improvements from the athlete.
Nick Grantham described a very different int of view coming from a strength and conditioning background but showing how no one field within health and fitness is isolated. He described the strength, power and honestly versatility of an athletes shoulder using downhill biking as an example and showing how specialised a certain activity can make an athlete. He described rehab in a far less rose tinted light than it is often portrayed with the focus being placed on the avilable resoucrces and pjysical attributes being available to each and every specific athlete. We often to much on the on the structures that have become injured rather than the reason why they have become injured sometimes trapping ourselves in a loop of repeated returns and failures of tissues.
Probably my favorite piece of information from the entire conference which states that essentially just following information previously recorded and not catering rehab as an individual experience will not produce outcomes where rehabilitation’s effectiveness is maximised. Essentially, everything is situational and so you cannot paint every injury or condition with the same paint brush. Sean O’ Brien also spoke on his professional career and often as therapists we can forget but the athlete or patients point of view regarding their injury and rehab.
In all i really thought the conference was great and a huge amount of knowledge and opinions were expressed. Not all pieces were directly relatable to every field of expertise but something to better your skills as a practitioner was present in nearly every talk, workshop or conversation on the day.