What I’ve been up to lately…

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy taping teenagers together, writing midterms and reviews, tutoring, managing the political side of student life, and starting personal research projects and (wait for it) relaxing on weekends (sometimes).

First things first, we’ve made it to the end of regular season football. The last three weeks brought some pretty busy games for me. In one game I used all of our splints. The game before that my injury report when on for pages. There was actually a brief period where I thought I wasn’t going to have a team left to work with by this point in the season. However, being the underdogs that we are, we’re surviving and are facing our last regular season game tomorrow before heading into playoffs. I had one week where I had no injuries, which was a very odd break when my entire season has been next to non-stop. This one week was short lived as I started this week with a neck injury and my first ambulance call. The kid is perfectly fine, and the ambulance call was more of a “better safe then sorry” call, but it was a interesting experience nonetheless. Thankfully my first responder skills are still very much intact, and I was able to stay cool and collected through the whole process. While my kids are taking a beating, I’m lucky to be able to get lots and lots of experience! Once football is over I will begin with a new hockey team (high school varsity). Hockey will be a new sport to add to my list, as I have next to no experience in it (what kind of Winnipegger am I?!). I am excited for the challenge, and looking forward to the new experiences.

I’ve been spending at least one morning a week in the clinic, as well, to keep those skills somewhat fresh. Every week my confidence and independence grows, and I’m very lucky to have great supervisors and mentors throughout all my experiences. I’m so blessed with close classmates and peers to re-hash details of assessments with, and even just to laugh about the joys of working with teenage athletes. They really do do and say the most priceless things.

Midterms are basically over, finally. This week holds one major presentation but no exams. The exams themselves have been fairly spread out (about one per week), but mixed in is an endless stream of papers, reviews, and reports due. This year has been quite different as there is less straight up examination of knowledge, and more detailed application and review of topics. I’m loving the increase in independence, application of knowledge, and getting to chose topics to discuss that are interesting and relevant to my goals.. but it certainly is more time consuming then just studying the facts. KSA presidential work has kept me busy, and usually just when I think I have everything under control. So far I’ve found myself writing letters to deans, university officials, and students to bid for better student space and office space for execs (our current space is awful), this week brings our sister association WATSA’s annual massage-a-thon with which I am also involved, and in a couple weeks the University will be hosting Thrive week (a health awareness week) in which KSA will be heavily involved for organizing some on campus sporting events for all students, and handing out general health information (nutrition and physical activity). I have extremely helpful execs and co-presidents who make it much easier to get things accomplished! Now that midterms are quieting down, hopefully things start running a bit less hectically.

I’ve been doing my best to give myself at least one day for me a week. I get so busy during the rest of the week that I don’t even have time to be stressed about being busy. Lately some of my time has been eaten up as my basketball team’s season is kicking into gear, and this weekend I decided running in the Fire Paramedic 10k was a good idea (even though I haven’t ran in months.. feeling that one!)…Weekends for the most part have remained my own, and I am very grateful to have time to spend with my loved ones. Quite often I make it out to the country with J and go for a little ride on Felix or just enjoy being out of the city.

A couple weeks ago, just to really test my limits, I launched a little bit of personal research. This will be an on going project, and have had a good response already. Basically I am looking for riders (either competitive, or not) who have been dealing with chronic pain either from a previous injury or just in general. I’m interested in finding out what I can change about their pain after an 8week exercise therapy program focused on postural and biomechanical corrections in their daily life and in the saddle. Each case will be different and unique, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn and how I can improve some local rider’s function at the same time! I’ll be sure to post interesting progressions up here for interested readers!

 

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Dates with Confidence and Humbleness

Below is an excerpt from the blog I keep for UW’s AT program, as part of my final grade in the practical aspect of the courses. I thought I’d share that with you as majority of my time this past week has been spent on school related things- most of which I encompass in that post. I am working on another post to put up here in the next few days (maaaybe even today) that will cover some of the other things going on in my life! Patience!

“Ah, the life of a student- especially an AT student. There is one word we can all identify with, I’m sure, by this point in the year. Exhaustion.

Between classes, football, work (where I’m getting to do some clinical things as well), and a few other extra curriculars- I’m learning a new definitely of tired; physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, even while being completely exhausted majority of the time- I’ve had a great couple weeks experience wise!

Football has been pretty quiet the past couple weeks. Unfortunately I am only able to be there game days right now, but I hear all about the week’s practices on Fridays while doing the pre-game taping. Our game last week came with a tough loss for the team, but a thrilling 5th digit PIP joint dislocation and an interesting contusion to lateral aspect of the knee with some irritation of the sub-patellar bursa. This week’s game was even quieter, with the only coming off the field was a decent ankle inversion sprain.

I know you’re all dying to know how my heel-locks are doing. Last weekend, since I’d been making slow progress, I decided to spend a good chunk of time dedicated to perfecting my heel-lock. So I stole a friend’s ankle and went to work. I’m happy to report that this week at football not only did I absolutely nail my heel-locks- but also incorporated some very nice figure-8 heel-locks into my ankle inversion taping. Maybe some of Ron O’Neil’s magic rubbed off on me, or maybe my muscle memory is starting to finally wake up- but I’m not having near as much trouble with angles as I was even a week ago. Yay!

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The most significant AT related moment for me the past two weeks came not from the football field, but rather from working with a few clients at work with the AT there. When I’m on shift at the same time as Claude he usually has me help out with a few clients, one of which I’ve been stretching for the past 4-5wks as well as helping with some exercises. This client is a rugby player and quite a bit bigger than I am, and Claude had me start doing stretches with him so I could gain some experience with how to get my biomechanics right when pnf-ing clients who have the size advantage. It’s definitely a more challenging experience- especially with a table that’s not adjustable. It took me a few weeks to figure out what positions worked best for me and still got the job done. The past two weeks the client himself has pointed out how much more effective I’ve gotten. My favourite quote thus far has been “either she’s getting stronger or I’m getting weaker every week”. Claude’s response to that was “she’s just gaining confidence in her abilities”. Fist pump moment. This experience has also helped me in stretching some of my footballers pre-game.

A more embarrassing moment from the past couple weeks, comes again from the clinic at work, where I was observing a new assessment on a shoulder with Claude. We had just covered this in assessment and I was following along quite easily. Until Claude started quizzing me. Simple questions like “what muscle does this?” or “what am I pointing to right now?” or “what’s your IOS based on what we’ve got so far?”. While part of my brain was saying “supraspinatus”, “teres minor”, and “ RC impingement or bursa issues”, the other part which was connected to my mouth was going “uhhhhhh…crap.. I know.. just give me a minute…”. #awkward

So that was good.. There’s always something to keep us humble, right?

My goals for the next couple weeks are to obviously have less “@#$% I don’t know” moments both at work and on the field. I feel like the only way to have less of those is to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone by saying yes to every opportunity I get to do an assessment, or at least be involved. Eventually my brain will hop on board the thinking train.”

 

 

Lessons, Habits, Progress

Decided to take a study break to write a post. And now I have writers block. THANKS BRAIN.

We’re in the home stretch. Only two exams left this week- after a quite successful run of five.  Found out today that I got a 94% on the psychology paper I wrote on the power dynamics Eric Lamaze used to influence the series of events surrounding the disqualification of Tiffany Foster from the olympics and FEI’s hypersensitivity protocol. I also got a B on my A&P lab exam, and a B+ on my P&C practical. Both those written exams felt very good as well, so hoping for good results there.

Besides studying like crazy, I’ve been working as much as I can, as well as riding and working out. So basically the past month all aspects of my life have been colliding into one big happy fun time. There were a couple weeks in there where I managed to pick up around 4-5 shifts in the week, as well as got out to the barn 5 times (as well as other forms of exercise), and wrote 1-2 exams. There is a reason “time-management skills”  has it’s own section on my resume. I’m getting used to living out of my car and using gas stations for wardrobe changes. Between driving across the city for work and play, and out to the country for training, I don’t have a lot of time to spend at Ainslie St. The time that used to be taken up by classes is quickly being replaced by five billion other things. Speaking of which I should really figure out when my spring class starts.

As of today I’ve had three lessons with M&C, and they have all brought significant improvements (for both me and Willard). The first lesson was really fun. We focused on grid work, and it was clear the Willard missed jumping over things. I felt great in the tack, confident and focused. The second lesson was a bit different. I was less focused to begin with, but that quickly changed as the lesson progressed. In the beginning I was sluggish in the saddle, my back hurt and my knee was not enjoying much of anything. Then I realized how much I was falling into old bad habits (hip angle too closed, shoulders forward, leg back). Then I thought about all that work I put into that biomechanics project I did my first term, and between that and Charlene manually adjusting my position in the saddle, I quickly fixed my own biomechanics and had quite a productive lesson after that. Just took me a while to wake up that time apparently. But it was an enlightening lesson for me in many ways, one of those ways seeing how my education- all those technical things about the human body I’ve been studying all year- are truly helping me to progress as a rider. It’s helping me change my perspective on things like those pesky old bad habits I’ve been trying to banish for so long. I stumbled across a quote the other day that fits this situation.. “When bad habits are hard to break, try bending them”. A lot of it is about perception.

That lesson showed me that I am well on my way to gaining new perspective, and that maybe those habits won’t always hinder me- but instead help me to progress further.

Oh, and the horse was good too.

My lesson today was much more focused (from my view anyway). Since Willard is still pretty enthusiastic about the whole jumping idea (sound effects included). We did quite a bit of transition work, before and after jumps. While is is very keen to jump, he is listening much better than even a few weeks ago. Where he used to grab the bit and launch himself at jumps, he was waiting with me for deeper distances and actually rounding himself over the jumps (of course followed by a squeal and a buck after because apparently it feels really good to jump oxers lately). Today there was only some of that, moreso after the jumps opposed to before. Charlene thinks that one more week and this “spring freshness” should be out of his system. Can’t blame him really, jumping IS pretty fun.

The biggest difference I’m noticing in my riding so far this season is that I am also better at waiting in the tack. Previously I had a tendancy to see a distance, and wait for it, but let myself fall forward in anticipation- which would throw the horse off, and lead to a chip or a extra stride before the jump. Whether it be my common sense progressing, my improved over all fitness, or M&C’s strategies working (probably all three), it brings a lot more confidence into my ride. For both horse and rider.

So that’s riding covered. The only other sort of interesting news I have that is fitness related is that I’ve finally started making ground with my pesky quad injury. After a few months arguing with it (especially during running), with the help of my ATs awesome/horribly painfully effective thumbs and elbows, as well as well planned rehab exercises, it has progressed from quitting at 1 mile, then to 2 miles, and now last week we were up to 3 miles before it started feeling like WWIII was taking place in my left leg and glutes. That day I also did a 5 miler maintaining a 10:30min/mile pace! Personal best for this kid! My training has kind of shifted from being in the gym 5 days a week to being in the barn 5 days a week mixed with more running and more body weight/pilates style exercises. I’ve found that for now, with my schedule and what is most effective for my lifestyle at the moment, this is the program that works right now. I still try and do a heavy lifting day 1-2 times a week, because it really is effective for me as a rider. I’m really looking forward to this summer to expand my training more with new ideas that come up!

Between everything else, the mission to solve my GI problems is continuing. The naturopath I consulted in March originally suspected parasite, while the Gastroenterologist recently suggested it definitely was not a parasite, and although I don’t have too many of the symptoms, Crohn’s might be the case and would like to proceed with a colonoscopy to confirm, which I said I would consider after all the other tests came back. I did stool and saliva testing for the Naturopath, and more blood tests for the Gastroenterologist. The GI guy was correct on the parasites, as I saw the naturopath today and got my test results back. The tests also showed some inflammation in my small intestines, but that could correlate with the high levels of yeast, bacterial growth, and gluten build-up also present. So while I wait the next 2 months for my Gastroenterologist to get blood test results, the naturopath has put me on 3 different herbal supplements to rid my gut of the bad bacteria, yeast, and gluten- as well as recommended I try out a restricted diet. Restricted being the understatement of the year.

Long story short (seriously though, I got a 100-page reference package), I am to avoid all gluten, dairy, and sugar- limit my fruit intake and bump up my veggie intake. I’m not sure how my Starbuck’s addiction feels about this. However, while I initially panicked because, lets face it, that is a lot of things I can’t eat, I then realized that my diet lately has been shifting that direction anyway. It will definitely take a little more time and effort on my part to make the complete shift, but I have been looking at the “paleo” way of life for a while, and this restricted diet is not too far off that line of thinking. The past month or so, I have been feeling really good, and during that past month I’ve been eating less starchy/processed stuff. So maybe, hopefully, the naturopath is onto something with this. Either way, it’s a new adventure.. or maybe challenge is a better word! I hope to make time to record some of how it goes on here, so if you’re interested make sure you stay tuned!

I finish exams Wednesday, where I will get approximately a 12hr break before I start full-time at the Manitoba Major Soccer League as their program coordinator for the summer. It’s sure to be a crazy summer (per usual), while I keep around 10 hrs a week in shifts at the gym, plus full time at MMSL, riding, showing, spring courses, and everything else in between. Bring it on!

 

 

B for Brrr

Biomechanical Analysis of Rising Trot

Above you’ll find a link to the paper version of the project I worked on over the fall term for my Biomechanics class. If you have a moment, give it a read!

My winter term started off quite quietly, but soon enough reminded me how crazy my life can be. The most exciting part of the past week or so for me was getting back my marks from last term- passing stats (with a C even!) and most of all my big biomech project! I got a B in everything (except stats), and on the project we got an A.. plus my prof said it was one of the better presentations she’s seen. And that I was on the top end of the exam marks wise. Happy dance!!! Biomechanics is definitely one of the courses I had to work the hardest at, but it’s also the one I miss the most right now. My favourite class this term is definitely Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries. Mostly because yesterday we were learning massage in class- which meant practice time in lab. Nothing wrong with free massages.   It’s a good thing I like this class, as it is my Saturday 9-2:30. Exhausting, but awesome.

It didn’t take me long to get completely exhausted by my new schedule. Six days a week of classes, while being better then having evening classes, is still unbelievably tiring. Sundays I usually sleep. All day. I’m usually a zombie by about Thursday. So if you need something from me, talk to me before that. My life has literally only consisted of school lately, so I really don’t have much to write at the moment.I just wanted to post a link to that paper so anyone who is interested could take a read! To all the riders out there reading this, maybe it will help make sense out of why your coach tells you to do certain things! Or why you should listen to those suggestions. Working on this project definitely shed some light on a different perspective of the sport for me. It’s amazing what tweaking one seemingly little insignificant movement can do to improve or hinder.

Here’s me making a crazy face. Just for fun.

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Maybe I’ll come up with something interesting to write about one of these days. Until then, stay warm (if you’re in Winnipeg), and stay cool (if you’re somewhere warm).

 

 

Turbulent 2012

Similar to previous years, seeing as I don’t make resolutions, here is a list of some of the most memorable moments of the past 12 months (in no particular order)!

  • Meeting the people I met overseas. Especially all the distant relatives. To be made to feel at home in a country that is so far away from home was something truly awesome. I am very lucky to have had that experience, and those people surrounding me during part of a pretty rough year made some impossible situations very possible. 
  • The last few weeks of travel in NZ. Working for a grand prix rider, glacier hikes, bus trips, amazing scenery, living on trail mix and instant noodles, being broke, sitting along the coast and listening to the waves crash to the shore, scenic train rides, busing through, unbelievable landscapes, and everything else. Pictures don’t do it justice, and no words can describe it. This post has more detail on some of what I did those last few weeks.

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  • Flying into Vancouver, and then Winnipeg. After what seemed like ages away, the sight of the Rocky Mountains covered in snow and looking glorious brought an unexplainable feeling, and was the best thing I’d seen yet. There is no better feeling than coming home after being away. If even where you were became like a home away from home. All those things I experienced, good and bad, were solidified as my plane landed in Vancouver. A journey was concluded, and another begun. I came home both the same, and completely changed. DSCN0373
  • Choosing a career path, and making relevant goals. I battled with myself long and hard over what I wanted to do with my life. Pretty much exactly a year ago I decided that athletic therapy was where I wanted to be, and set some goals for myself. It was definitely the right choice, and accomplishing the goals I’ve set has been unbelievably challenging and terrifying- but also fantastic. It’s nice to know that I’m doing something with my life that is always going to present me with a new challenge to keep me motivated.
  • MHJA’s Fall Harvest Show. I believe this was in last years list too. Coming up to this year’s show, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After a surgery in mid-July on my tailbone- I wasn’t able to ride up until 6 days before the competition (approx 6 weeks off for both me and my horse). Challenge accepted. I definitely pushed my recovery a little far- but I rode everyday for those 6 days and against the advice of pretty much everyone went to Fall Harvest. I’m sure we only survived that weekend on pure adrenaline (sooo out of shape). It was at that show, same as last year, that the difference in my riding ability really was shown. Mike broke his gruff exterior more than once at this show, saying “we might make a rider out of you one day”. A huge compliment!
  • Similar to the above, the Hunter Derby class at Fall Harvest 2012 (Check out this post for more!)
    . This was the first year doing a derby was realistic for me, and I got the okay from my coaches to enter. I wish I had a video of it! But any rider reading this will understand- it was one of those courses that presented so many new challenges and tests for both horse and rider and somehow, by some luck, we got around it and were rewarded the greatest feeling of teamwork and accomplishment. Best way to end off our short season!

    Not from Fall Harvest, but from Beach Party 2012.

    Not from Fall Harvest, but from Beach Party 2012.

  • Getting to know the people I ride and compete with better. I realize this is more than one moment in time, but over the past year I’ve really gotten a chance to spend more time with my coaches, Mike and Charlene, as well as other riders who train with them. It makes the sport so much more fun to be surrounded by people like this! I’ve learned a lot just by being around them, and they’ve helped me to gain confidence in myself and as a result ride that much better.
  • Kin-3201 Biomechanics. From day one this course terrified me, as well fascinated me! The study of biology and the forces acting upon it. Anatomy and physics combined. Being someone who never really excelled in physics- this was a challenge. But I found the math part of things much easier to understand when it was put into a athletic/movement perspective. I liked this course way more than I thought I would. And the final project, which was one of the hardest academic things I’ve done so far, was so cool! My post Critical Instant has more detail on the project and what I did my research on. I learned so much from this course, and loved the challenges it presented!_DSC0315 _DSC0317

 

2012 was a challenging year for me. I saw some pretty unbelievable things, on both ends of the spectrum. I experienced some of the worst physical pain, and emotional turmoil I ever have- but also had some great accomplishments and good times. I am positive 2013 will present new challenges, tough times, and good times to rival what 2012 threw at me. After facing what I’ve faced the past 12 months, I don’t know what else could be better preparation for whatever 2013 has in store. Here’s to the New Year, and may it be what it will be!

 

Pre-Exam Update

Ahhh it’s been a while. This is going to be short and sweet.

It’s been a pretty stressful month, what with finishing classes of my first term and all that good stuff. But, after 5 exams.. I’m done! Until January. I have survived-so far- what many thought would be the killer of all semesters.. five courses, four labs.. so pretty much 9 classes.. INSANITY. The past few months flew by. Last time I wrote I believe I was getting ready to do my presentation for biomechanics, on the posting trot. That went very well, I think, we have yet to get our feedback for that. I got asked my all time favourite question “is rider fitness important in the sport” Uhh, let me think.. YES (of course followed by a suitably intelligent sounding explanation). We finished our paper this week, and will hand it in sometime next week once it’s been proof read a few hundred times. I had Charlene read it tonight, and she seemed to think it was good. Hopefully our prof thinks the same thing! If anybody is interested in reading it, let me know- the more proof readers the better!

Tonight is the eve of what is going to be a crazy week (do I have any not crazy weeks?). Four finals await me, two on tuesday (nutrition, and stats), and then scientific principles of fitness and conditioning (I did my final case study (worth 25%) on a program for a equestrian athlete!) on Wednesday, and the big scary Biomech final exam on Friday. Biomech is definitely the only exam I’m worried about. I’m pretty determined on getting a good mark, so the pressure is on. The midterm was created by the devil, so I’m sure the final will be of the same calibre… but at least we have double the time to write. And then next week I finish off with my A&P midterm (this is a full year course). I basically have spent the last 3-4 days buried in my stats text book. Hypotheses testing, inferential statistics, and data analysis, are all things I will be very happy to be done with!

In other news.. well.. I don’t really have a life outside of school at the moment. Maybe I’ll think of something interesting to write about in the coming weeks, after my brain has recovered from what it’s about to be put through.. Wish me luck!

 

Critical Instant

Two weeks left in the term?! How did this happen!

I’ve been figuratively, and sometimes literally, smothered by projects, lab exams, and review that I’ve lost track of time. That being said, nothing is really new either. I’m almost nervous for December holidays to arrive because I’m not sure what I’ll do without the stress of having to finish a lab report, analyze a joint, calculate the probability in a two tailed hypothesis test, or finish case studies. What a crazy few months it’s been. I survived the 6 midterms in a week. I’m hoping I’ll make it through this big biomechanics project alive, and the finals. Oh the finals.

I never fully accomplished unpacking my room after moving in in September, so maybe that will get finished during break. I’ll definitely be working because not having income kind of sucks. I’ll hopefully be riding because I’m missing that part of my life like crazy. But, first I have to get through the next two weeks.

On the docket this week is the presentation of my Biomechanics research project. Which, if you’ll remember, I did on the posting trot as a unskilled vs skilled analysis. I had two awesome subjects who let me tape them up and make them trot around a ring until I got the shots I needed. Since then, my partner and I, have been breaking down their movements into phases, measuring the angles of their joints, and deciding what would be the best aspect to present to our class and professor. We are required to discuss one qualitative (what you can observe) and one quantitative (calculations and what they mean in relation to what you previously observed) aspect of the project (the paper itself will involve many more of these aspects, including many more calculations yay). Our qualitative aspect is simply showing the difference between the skilled and unskilled subject in the critical instant of the movement, i.e.. when the rider is up out of the saddle, mid-post, with a straight line from their shoulder, hip, to ankle joints. All riders know this as it’s drilled into our heads day in and day out by coaches, for good reason. We found that there was only a small difference between our riders, being a deviation in the placement of the ankle joint. The skilled rider had great alignment, while the unskilled’s ankle was just ahead of the vertical. This would suggest less stability in the lower leg. Our quantitative analysis was based on the velocity (speed) of the rider’s hip joint during the follow through phase, ie.. as they sink back into the saddle after critical instant. To calculate this we used the change in degrees of the hip joint, divided by the time it took them (calculated by the number of frames over the amount of frames per second the camera filmed at).

Why is this important?

Well, you know how coaches sometimes say to slow down the rhythm of your posting? This is exactly what we’re looking at. We found that the skilled rider had about 18degrees/second and our skilled rider had about 19degrees/second in their hip joint. Not a huge difference, but enough of one to prove our point. The slower velocity supports a controlled follow through phase, which in all sports is necessary for injury prevention- probably less of an issue in this case, but a controlled movement is pretty important to create balance, support the horse’s movement, remain stable in the saddle, and flow with the movement. Plus the more controlled and stable the rider is in their follow through, the less jarring on the horse’s back. In that slower velocity of the skilled rider we can show that she is able to control her body as it sinks down into the saddle, and maintain a better rhythm while being stable in the saddle- allowing her to follow the horse’s stride. Of course there is also the aesthetic portion to this part of the skill. The more balanced and stable you are in the saddle, the less you interfere with your horses natural movements and the better the entire picture looks.

Anyone asleep yet?

This is only a small part of the project. As I mentioned earlier the paper will include all that and more. We’ll be calculating almost everything there is to to calculate based on the information we have in the videos. Can’t wait. But for right now, our main focus is getting this presentation done. Probably the biggest challenge will be trying to get all of what I just wrote above across to a room full of people who have basically no understanding of the equestrian sport. Sometimes even my partner has to stop me when I’m talking through some of this stuff and ask me to explain in english. I have honestly never thought about the posting trot in such depth before. Who knew it 30% of my final mark in a University course would be riding on a movement I don’t, or never used to, really even give a second thought to? Education, gotta love it.

Wish me luck!