Walk before you run

It’s been another interesting week in the land of Pilko.

Because I’m becoming a lot better at taping/strapping I’m now able to do the bulk of my own work. It’s handy because it means there are lots of things I can do which normally I would avoid.

Water based exercise being one of them. Rigged strapping while it holds up to being soaked in water fairly well it does weaken it.

With my preparations for the City-Bay I had my knee taped and my Physio would also do a better job than I could (might have something to do with experience!) So I decided to keep the tape on and skip the pool classes.

Finally got back in the water last night to do a deep water aqua class (have been lap swimming most Sunday for a while now)

I have to admit I came away totally frustrated and generally disappointed and what took place.

I’m having some lateral tracking issues with my patella and just getting movement out of the knee joint is difficult. I had hoped that pool based work would be a lot easier. Funny enough it wasn’t the silver bullet I was hoping for.

Anyhow today I realized I really had UN-realistic expectations on what I was trying to achieve. This was the first aqua class I’d been in for 6 weeks and I was dealing with what could basically be deemed a new injury. So it really is about learning to walk before you run. While I do know how to walk, after injury it’s important to work with the right people and get the right advise. Now when I walk I focus on my gait and make sure that my technique is good. If you don’t get the foundations right your setting yourself up for problems, learnt that lesson the hard way!

Ever since the City – Bay I’ve had a bit of pain in the soles of my feet and I’ve been trying to work out what the deal is.

Podiatrist tells me I have a bit of Plantar Fasciitis, given what I’ve done to my body I’m not surprised. My surgeon did query if that was a problem.

So I now have even more exercises to do and this time I need to actually do them!

I’m good at attending group classes but I really need to sort my (bleep) out and get them done. When I was re-habbing my knee it paid off well, so now to continue that work.

Had a sensation PT session today although I don’t think my PT was quite ready for the weight behind my punches. Nothing like landing a few solid punches in 16oz gloves.

Obsoletely stuffed afterwards but that’s the goal.

So tonight I’ve come away feeling accomplished and happy with what I’ve achieved.

Now to rest.

Moving on

It’s been a big few weeks in Pilko’s world.

The most significant would have to be the sudden loss of pain. I’m not talking a reduction in pain, gone!

After living with chronic pain for months I’m actually sill having problems realizing that movement we all take for granted doesn’t hurt any more. It’s well… epic.

My physio has told me for about a month now that my ROM (Range Of Movement) is the best she has seen post-OP however I still had massive pain issues.

I was starting to think it was all in my head and the way my body was processing nerve responses but a ultrasound confirmed that I did actually have valid reasons for concern.

I was pleased to get a post-OP MRI done which is rare and I got the all clear.

I’ve been discharged from my surgeon with no future appointments scheduled. While my surgeon is in the top of his field to need to see him you have to be smashed up.

When I first visited him I was in a terrible state. It was a nice feeling to walk pain fee out of his consult room and out of the building.

This past weekend has seen me accomplish a really important personal goal and that was to complete the 6km walk of the City Bay Fun Run.

A massive day where there was a total of some 39,000 people taking part.

The weather was rather ordinary and the rain has meant that I’ve not shot much in the way of photos or video.

The below video will give you an idea what coming up to the finish line is like

Next year my goal will be to register as runner and hopefully be in a position jog most if not all of the way.

My Physio has been incredibly supportive along the way and I’m now cutting back on consults to once a fortnight as we’re now at that point.

The City Bay run was on Sunday but it wasn’t until Tuesday night where my body really felt it.

Given the hype and excited both before and after the race I hadn’t slept all that well and I’m still battling fatigue, plus my body in various parts is still very sore.

1x hour massage and a Physio consult have helped but I still have work to do.

Exercise wise I’ve not done anything else as while my head says “work it” my body says “rest” and for the moment that’s what I need to do.

I’m not out of the woods yet, I’m still getting used to what my body can and can’t do and that’s still a daily struggle. The trick is knowing your limits and safely pushing those, ever so carefully.

Onwards and upwards, moving on I go 🙂

15 hours to go, months in the making

 So the Adelaide City to Bay Fun Run start is a little 15 hours away.

I’ve worked hard for this, pool sesions, personal training and pilates. I’ve focused on endurance training the past couple of weeks. Something I havn’t always enjoyed!

Today I’ve finished off my race preperation which was in the form of a visit with my Physio.

I’ve been told in the past I’m a young strapping man, today I certainly am strapped!

Ankle and knee are strapped to ensure I have the support I need to ensure I don’t hurt myself.

I didn’t sleep much last night and I expect the same problem tonight. I’m so pumped about what tomorrow holds. When I visited my Physio this morning she made comment about my big smile. I’m beaming today, something that you virtually never see.

For me it’s a personal goal to complete the walk, it’s a consolidation of so many things which I hold near and dear.

Last night I discovered there will be a live cam on the finish line viewable at  live.adam.com.au I expect to cross the finish line somewhere between 10:30am and 11:00am it will depending on the start that I get.

This afternoon I went for a little walk to test out my strapping and make sure I was happy with it. Strapping when done right enhances performance, but it’s a trade-off between support and immobilization. Plus if you’re not careful you can actually weaken muscle groups too.

I will try and post twitter updates where possible follow me twitter.com/ipilko

Catch you after the race 🙂


Why is the Adelaide, City To Bay Fun Run so important?

So some people are commenting I’m a little obsessed with this weekend.

On Sunday I will take the start line with tens-of-thousands.

Everyone has their own story and motivation.

Mine’s simple really.

I’m morbidly obese, I’m working to fix that. In fixing that I badly injured myself which required surgical intervention.

When going through some long and tiring rehab which pushed me to the limit of my abilities mentally and physically I set my goals on a target.

That target was to complete the City To Bay.

I’d managed to motivate people along the way, so I thought what better way to motivate people even more by forming a team.

As we now head into the last week before the race I’ve gone from feeling confident about doing the 6km to being told I wasn’t cleared to now being told you can do it.

I’ve made my decision, one I’ll stand by and it’s going to be really interesting to see my reaction as I cross the physical finish line as in many regards my journey is just beginning.

I’m not doing the race alone, there is a team of people with me, but I’m also fundraising for JDRF.

Work held a massive fund raiser for them earlier in the year and I wasn’t able to contribute in person or financially, plus I have family and some close friends who live with Type 1 diabetes.

Please support me where you can 🙂


City-Bay Fun Run is go!

So in the depth of frustration during rehab from my ankle surgery, I decided to goal set.

What was the goal? Complete a section of the Adelaide City-Bay Fun Run in 2012.

The plan was and is to complete the 6km walk, for walkers there is a 12km, 6km and 3km event.

I’m going to have to evaluate where I’m at at the end of the week as I may need to drop to the 3km event, but regardless of that, I’ve today gone live with my fundraising page.

When I set out in October 2011 in make changes to my life I never thought my actions would have an impact on others.

It’s with that in mind I’m fundraising for JDRF, ordinarily I’m fairly selfish and for once I’m doing something for charity.

It’s not fair that I’m the only one to benefit from this.

My recovery from ankle surgery this year has be long, tiring and frustrating.

I’m finally at a point where I now think I’m 95% of the way to full recovery.

For months I’ve trained with a single goal of crossing the finish line of the City-Bay Fun Run.

So no matter if I’ve walked 6km or 3km I will cross that line.

If you can help by donating it not only helps my motivation to get to the finish line but JDRF win too.

Please give generously through my everyday hero’s page



Pain really is in the mind, but not in the way you think

By Lorimer Moseley, University of South Australia

Everybody hurts, but not everybody keeps hurting. The unlucky few who do end up on a downward spiral of economic, social and physical disadvantage.

While we don’t know why some people don’t recover from an acute episode of pain, we do know that it’s not because their injury was worse in the first place. We also know that it’s not because they have a personality problem. Finally, we do know that, on the whole, treatments for chronic pain are not particularly successful.

This sobering reality draws up some interesting reflections on pain itself. What is pain? Is it simply a symptom of tissue damage or is it something more complex? One way to approach this second question is to determine whether it’s possible to have one without the other – tissue damage without pain or pain without tissue damage.

And you can answer that one yourself – ever noticed a bruise that you have absolutely no recollection of getting? If you answered yes, then you have sustained tissue damage without pain. Ever taken a shower at the end of a long day in the sun and found the normally pleasantly warm water, painfully hot? That’s not the shower injuring you – it’s just activating sensitised receptors in your skin.

Such questions and their answers are of great interest to pain scientists because they remind us that pain is not simply a measure of tissue damage.


Ever noticed a bruise that you have absolutely no recollection of getting? Rebecca Partington


What is pain?

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as an experience. Pain is usually triggered by messages that are sent from the tissues of the body when those tissues are presented with something potentially dangerous.

The neurones that carry those messages are called nociceptors, or danger receptors. We call the system that detects and transmits noxious events “nociception”. Critically, nociception is neither sufficient nor necessary for pain. But most of the time, pain is associated with some nociception.

The exact amount or type of pain depends on many things. One way to understand this is to consider that once a danger message arrives at the brain, it has to answer a very important question: “How dangerous is this really?” In order to respond, the brain draws on every piece of credible information – previous exposure, cultural influences, knowledge, other sensory cues – the list is endless.

How might all these things modulate pain? The favourite theory among pain scientists relies on the complexity of the human brain. We can think about pain as a conscious experience that emerges in response to activity in a particular network of brain cells that are spread across the brain. We can call the network a “neurotag” and we can call the brain cells that make up the neurotag “member brain cells”.


Schematic of cortical areas involved with pain processing and fMRI. Borsook D, Moulton EA, Schmidt KF, Becerra LR/Wikimedia Commons


Each of the member brain cells in the pain neurotag are also member brain cells of other neurotags. If we have the phrase “slipped disc” in our brain for instance, it has to be held by a network of brain cells (we can call this the “slipped disc” neurotag). And it’s highly likely that there are some brain cells that are members of both the slipped disc neurotag and the back pain neurotag. This means that if we activate the slipped disc neurotag, we slightly increase the likelihood of activating the back pain neurotag.

Using this model, thinking that we have a slipped disc has the potential to increase back pain. But what if this piece of knowledge we have stored is inaccurate, just like our notion of a slipped disc? A disc is so firmly attached to its vertebrae that it can never, ever slip. Despite this, we have the language, and the pictures to go with it, and both strongly suggest it can.

When the brain is using this inaccurate information to evaluate how much danger one’s back is in, we can predict with confidence that, if all other things were equal, thinking you have a slipped disc and picturing one of those horrible clinical models of a slipped disc will increase your back pain.

Self-perpetuating pain

This is where our understanding of pain itself becomes part of a vicious cycle. We know that as pain persists the nociception system becomes more sensitive. What this means is that the spinal cord sends danger messages to the brain at a rate that overestimates the true danger level.


A disc is so firmly attached to its vertebrae that it can never, ever slip. Jason Sullivan


This is a normal adaption to persistent firing of spinal nociceptors. Because pain is (wrongly) interpreted to be a measure of tissue damage, the brain has no option but to presume that the tissues are becoming more damaged. So when pain persists, we automatically assume that tissue damage persists.

On the basis of what we now know about the changing nervous system, this presumption is often wrong. The piece of knowledge that’s turning up the pain neurotag is actually being reinforced by itself! I think it goes like this: “more pain = more damage = more danger = more pain” and so on and so forth.

The idea that an inaccurate understanding of chronic pain increases chronic pain begs the question – what happens if we correct that inaccurate piece of knowledge?

We’ve been researching the answer to this for over a decade, and here’s some of what we’ve found:

(i) Pain and disability reduce, not by much and not very quickly but they do;

(ii) Activity-based treatments have better effects;

(iii) Flare-ups reduce in their frequency and magnitude;

(iv) Long-term outcomes of activity-based treatments are vast improvements.

There’s compelling evidence that reconceptualising pain according to its underlying biology is a good thing to do. But it’s not easy. Our research group is continually looking for better ways of doing this, and we’re not the only ones. The idea of explaining pain has taken off in pain management programs and outpatients departments the world over.

Clinicians need to rethink too


“For example, if the fire A is close to the foot B, the small particles of fire, which as you know move very swiftly, are able to move as well the part of the skin which they touch on the foot. In this way, by pulling at the little thread cc, which you see attached there, they at the same instant open e, which is the entry for the pore d, which is where this small thread terminates; just as, by pulling one end of a cord, you ring a bell which hangs at the other end…. Now when the entry of the pore, or the little tube, de, has thus been opened, the animal spirits flow into it from the cavity F, and through it they are carried partly into the muscles which serve to pull the foot back from the fire, partly into those which serve to turn the eyes and the head to look at it, and partly into those which serve to move the hands forward and to turn the whole body for its defense” Descartes, On Man, 1662 From RenĂ© Descartes’ Traite de l’homme/Wikimedia Commons


What we know about how pain works is not just relevant to how we teach it to patients, we need to base our clinical decisions on it. This means abandoning Rene Descartes famous model of 1654. His drawing depicts a man with his foot in the fire and a “pain receptor” activating an hydraulic system that rings a bell in his head. Of course no one believes we have hydraulics making this happen, but the idea of an electrical circuit turning on the pain centre is still at the heart of many clinical practices across professional and geographic boundaries.

The type of thinking captured in Descartes’ model has led to some amazing advances in clinical medicine. But the evidence against it is now almost as compelling as that against the world being flat.

Of course, those sailors who never leave the harbour might hang on to the idea of a flat world. And, in the same way, there are probably clinicians who hang on to the idea of pain equalling tissue damage. I suspect they either don’t see complex or chronic pain patients, or, when they do, they presume that those patients are somehow faulty or psychologically fragile, or, tragically, are lying.

Perhaps they can continue to practice without ever leaving the harbour. The problems I want to solve clearly exist on the open seas.

Lorimer Moseley receives funding from NHMRC of Australia. He is affiliated with The Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia & Neuroscience Research Australia.

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