My first national team assignment, the 2017 Thorpe Cup versus Germany.

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

A few years ago I began to ask therapists questions about how they got to where they were at.  You can find the half dozen interview articles on this blog.  That helped create a path to follow with the goal of working with high level track and field athletes.  2016 was a great year for me as a therapist.  I had the honor of working two Olympic Trials events and was at the New York Marathon doing personal medical for one of the elite runners.  After New York, I set my sights to be placed on a national team for USA Track and Field.  In the fall, I completed an application and crossed my fingers. I eventually received an email saying I was selected to be part of the medical team for the 2017 Thorpe Cup in Germany.

I was excited to get to go to Germany, but had no idea what the Thorpe Cup was. I shared my selection on social media and began getting replies from people I highly respect telling me this was an incredible event and I was going to enjoy it.  For those curious, here is the short history from Wikipedia:  Thorpe Cup

At the time I was given notice, I still had about 7 months until the event took place.  I began to receive various forms to complete and not too long after received a large box filled with USATF team apparel I was to wear for this trip.

The competition took place the last week of July in Dusseldorf, Germany.  I flew to Atlanta and met with a large number of the team and coaches as we connected on our flight to Germany.  The flight was a “red eye” and I didn’t sleep, and most of the others didn’t sleep well either.  We arrived at the airport and was greeted by Hermann, the German coordinator of the event.  We were escorted to vans with our luggage and after a short 10 minute van ride we arrived at our hotel, the Tulip Inn Dusseldorf Arena.  It was attached to Espirit Stadium, home of the Fortuna Dusseldorf professional soccer team.  You walked in the lobby of the hotel and were looking at the entire stadium.  The accommodations of the hotel were fantastic.  I barely spent any money the entire week I was there.

Some athletes went to the warm-up track and did some loosening up in the afternoon and soon after, my medical team partner for this team, Scott Hudson, arrived from Belgium, where he had been stationed the entire month of July helping US athletes training and competing in Europe.  We arranged a schedule and began doing treatments that evening.

The team was comprised of 7 males and 7 females who competed in the decathlon (men) and heptathlon (women).  Some were still college students, others more “experienced” competing in their upper 20’s. In the one event in track and field where the best are given the title “Worlds Greatest Athlete,” the sport hasn’t embraced it financially here in the US or in many other countries.  I don’t think any on this team had significant sponsorship and those post-collegiate competitors have had to find unique ways to get housing and enough money to allow them to train enough to be at a competitive level.  For many of the athletes, this was a chance to get all sorts of nagging aches and pains worked out for free.  I have to say that every athlete there was very appreciative of this, and Scott and I were happy to help.

Scott is an athletic trainer (ATC) at St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis.  He and I worked well together.  Scott is one of the few people who I have been able to learn new things that made sense and agreed with my philosophy.  He has an incredible ability to pin point causes of aches, pains and injuries and find fixes for them fast.  There were times I would feel something not right, tell him what I found, and then he could address it.  That there is teamwork at it’s finest!

The second day there was a morning practice session, lunch, then an afternoon tour of the city, followed by evening treatments after dinner.  Right next door to the hotel was an outdoor and indoor track.  The weather was cool and the athletes trained indoors. 

The next day the athletes would train at the competition stadium, about a 20 minute van ride away.  One thing our team learned is to be not just on time, but early!  The stadium was very nice, surrounded by trees, and had a personal feel with stands the came up next to the track.

The long jump run way and the stadium seats.

 

Me and some of the team waiting for a van to the competition stadium the day before the meet began.

 

Me at the competition stadium the day before the meet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel treatment room with a few of the team members.

 

 

Treatments were mainly in the evening due to schedule and meal times.  We started most evenings around 7:30 or 8pm and would go until 10:30 or 11pm. Saturday is day 1 of the competition and we arrived at the stadium.  Scott and I were set up inside a gymnasium at the athletic facility.

Our set up location for the competition.

For many of the athletes, their season has been very long filled with plenty of competitions, and that takes a toll on their bodies.  Scott and I worked hard to keep them as healthy as possible for this two day event.

Following the first day, the team headed back to the hotel for dinner and the evening treatment routine.  We had to work fast to get finished in time so the athletes could get to bed at a decent time.

The second day was filled with emotion.  The men’s team was down a large amount of points after day 1 and couldn’t rally back.  The German men took the podium going 1-2-3.  Our women’s team did win the Thorpe Cup and swept the podium as well.  Following the awards ceremonies, celebrations began.

The day after the competition, a cultural day was scheduled and finished off with an evening Bundesliga soccer match at the stadium our hotel attached to.  For many of us, this was quite the highlight given the soccer culture in Germany.

Tuesday was a travel day back home after a wonderful week in Germany.  This competition isn’t a small task and takes considerable effort.  I can’t thank USATF and the Germans enough for organizing this competition.  One day I would enjoy coming back for another competition.  I have no idea what next big event awaits me, but I will keep getting better at what I do so I can provide the best care for the world’s best athletes.

 

Working the 2017 IAAF Diamond League Prefontaine Classic

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

For those who have read my blog posts, I’ve written about my journey to where I am today.  In recent years I have been fortunate to have participated in some incredible events.  Back in 2014, I friended Washington DC Massage Therapist Terrel Hale and saw he traveled to Oregon to work the 2014 Pre Classic, a top track and field competition in the world, held in Oregon.  It’s one of the only US based international track and field meets.  Terrel agreed to do some Q&A with me about his experience.  From this interview, a series of events occurred.  Fast forward to May 2017, and here I am, on my way to the 2017 Pre Classic.

The medical team comprised of massage therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and even an acupuncturist.  Athletes could come in to our room during treatment times and get whatever they needed (or wanted!).  Here was the river view from the treatment room

Don Butzner, who I interviewed for this blog before, was the Captain of the event for me.  He has been organizing events in Eugene for quite a few years and has worked with some of the worlds best athletes in track and field.

I arrived on Wednesday afternoon into Eugene Airport, a short drive away from where all the action would take place.  After unpacking at the hotel, I headed over to the hotel I’d be working at the next few days.  Athletes from various countries began to come in over the next few days.  As a fan of the sport, this was incredible to see, and work with, the biggest names in the sport.  The Pre Classic line ups were nearly rematches from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  (So yes, I did work with a few Olympians this weekend!)

Friday night there were a few distance events for the female athletes.  I headed over to the track to work with athletes I had seen earlier in the week.  As the sun went down, the evening was absolutely amazing.  Here was the view of the warm up areas just past where the medical tent was set up.

 

As the athletes finished their races and events that night, some began to head over to the tent for post race treatments.  Around 10pm that night, I was one of the last to leave the stadium with a few athletes who did a workout and long cool down afterwards.

The next morning, I was at the track at 10am.  Soon after the shuttles from the athlete hotels began arriving and athletes began to warm up.  It was another beautiful day.

The medical tent on the main race day was filled with nearly a dozen treatment tables.  Athletes began coming in for pre-race treatment, stretches and other things they needed to perform their best.  Soon after the events started, athletes began coming in for post-race massage.


The last race ended around 3pm, and around nearly 430 pm, most everyone said their good byes and off we went. It was a great experience overall and I do look forward to hopefully coming back again in the future.

 

 

“Why didn’t I come see you sooner?”

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

How many times have you or someone you know asked for a referral for something?

We all need help or advice at some point in our life, and to ensure we make a good decision, we often ask for recommendations on “good” people for whatever we need help with.

You know, something like, “Who knows a good massage therapist( or PT/chiro/mechanic/plumber etc)?”

Nearly everyday my Facebook feed includes one of these type of posts, and what follows in the comments is often a list of dozens people.  But how many of those people are actually contacted?  What is it about human nature where we want to ask for advice and recommendations and then often go make our own decisions anyway?

To a fault, I do zero advertising and marketing of my therapy services.  It’s 100% word of mouth from people who have seen me at one point, or people I know. A good friend of mine and competitive bodybuilder David Reid has been a tremendous referral source for me, for which I am very grateful.  I’ve known and worked with Dave for nearly 10 years now.  He’s been in the fitness game for a long time and has had his share of injuries and therapy sessions.  Whenever someone Dave knows is hurt, he is quick to send them my information.

A good portion of his referrals have called me immediately, others wait weeks to months later, and some never call.  The delay in calling me is not a result of Dave’s recommendation, it’s a result of those people not having the immediate motivation to take action.  I bring this up because when someone is in enough pain, they will call.  When someone is frustrated with the results, they will look for other options.  If they haven’t experienced those emotions, they likely won’t go for the contact.

Here’s a story that occurred recently.

An active woman came to see me after going through months of physical therapy for hip pain.  MONTHS!!! and she saw minimal progress.  She decided to call me and in one 90-minute session with me, she was fully functional with no pain.  So why did she call me after all?  Because she was frustrated with her results and wanted other options.

There is another key point in that paragraph.  Her problem was gone after one session.  I consider myself a really good therapist. I still have areas to improve on, and that will come with time.  With the people I see, I can confidently say if I cannot show immediate relief, if not full recovery in 1-2 sessions, there is a major problem that needs to be addressed.  I’ve said I can fix just about everything except broken bones.  Not to be egotistical, but my results indicate this to be true.

In the past year, I worked with a retired Olympic level track and field athlete.  All those years of training has now led to discomfort.  In this case, it was chronic groin pain.  The next day the person came back and said, “Whatever you did, let’s do it again, because I haven’t felt like this in a long time.”

I have many stories like this and the common comments I get from them is, “Why didn’t I come see you sooner?”

Your friend: “I have this back issue, do you know someone who might help?”

You: “Yes, you should call Roger. He’s great.  He’s worked with all kinds of great athletes, Olympians, professionals. You should call him.”

Friend: “ok, why is he great?  I mean, I know my PT also works with athletes too.”

You: “Because he can fix things in one session.”

In this scenario and recommendation, who wouldn’t want to get fixed in one session? Someone who doesn’t call isn’t in enough pain (pun intended) to seek help.  They are going through the stages of decision making but aren’t quite there yet.  One last thing I have learned is that who you have worked with isn’t as big of a factor in someone’s decision to seek treatment as one might think.  It still comes down to how emotional they are about their current situation.

So although I can provide help to many people, it’s still up the person to make the decision what is important to them.

 

My case study on sleep

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

In the past few weeks, I have had so many conversations with friends about sleep and what has worked for me, I felt it was likely a sign I should provide a resource based on my experiences.

My story starts over 7 years ago when  I made choices that would create problems for me until recently when I made changes to my sleep routines.

Seven years ago I decide to undertake a college program that would require me to take 40 credits of courses in 10 months.  And during the start of this 10 months, my first child was also born.  My “brilliant” idea was to drink a bunch of caffeine and study late at night and be on night duty if my daughter woke up.  Not being a big coffee fan I started with a can of Red Bull.  Then soon one can wasn’t enough.  I needed a bigger can, the 16 ounce can.  Soon that wasn’t enough, I needed a few cans each day.  I recall at one point I was drinking four 16-ounce Red Bulls a day, just to stay awake!  Clearly I had developed a tolerance to it and I was caught in a vicious cycle of needing energy, drinking it, crashing, and then needing it again.

Soon this habit was getting expensive.  I changed up drinks.  Some worked well, other didn’t.  For a while I did orange Mt Dew.  This was good.  It was cheap and effective….and full of sugar that resulted in me gaining quite a few pounds.  And I still was stuck in the cycle of energy and crashing.

I tried to stop this a few times over the last 7 years.  I knew if I could have a few days to get naps in, I could help buffer the need for energy mid day and late afternoon.  The longest I recall going was two weeks.  I’d get stuck in the cycle again.

The last few years I was going to Kickstart’s by Mt Dew.  Whether it was from this drink specifically, or just seven years of abuse, I felt many changes to how I felt overall.  I experience more aches, my mental alertness was poor, my memory and focus was pretty bad. I had to make a change.

After my trip to New York in November, I came home decided this was it, no more.  I was going cold turkey, and in a time when naps were nearly impossible to get except on weekends.

From my previous times trying to stop, I would get serious headaches, likely from caffeine withdrawal. Usually after a few days, I’d go back to drinking.  This time I decide to have small chocolates nearby to snack on.  There is a small amount of caffeine in chocolate, so this helped my headaches considerably.  The first interesting insight in this attempt was my psychological need for drinks.  I wasn’t tired but craved the taste.  I had wondered how much of my problem was energy and how much was cravings.  I was beginning to see it was a little of both now.

After a week of managing head aches, I now was dealing with getting through the day and dealing with those cravings.  I knew when I began to undertake this attempt I had to be strict on sleep.  If I slept well, I wouldn’t be tired and wouldn’t need energy, right?

Enter Nick Littlehales.  I found him as a guest on one of my favorite health podcasts, The Ben Greenfield Podcast.  Nick had worked with elite athletes for years and his advice on sleep was so simple and logical, yet it wasn’t the standard “Get 8 hours of sleep.”

For years I have wondered why that was recommended because I would get 8 hours and feel terrible.  I would get 6 and feel great.  I would get 10 and still feel bad.  None of this made sense.  I played around with naps too.  I would take a nap and wake up feeling worse than I did before I fell asleep.  What was I doing wrong?

I decided to give Nick’s advice a try.  The first thing I did was use his sleep cycle method to time my sleep.  I currently wake up at 5am.  Humans typically sleep in 90 minute cycles, so counting back 5 cycles (Nick’s basic recommendation) from that, I would get a bed time of 9:30pm.   To help with this, I created a post it with times on it next to my bedside.  Now for days I couldn’t get to bed at 9:30, I stayed up until the next sleep cycle time.  Nick’s recommendation to his pro soccer players who go out at night is to stay up until your next cycle time, and wake up at your regular time, then try to get a nap the next day.  I have used this strategy and can vouch for it’s effectiveness.

Now on the topic of naps…Most weeks the only naps I get are on weekends.  Nick’s advice is a 20 minute downtime rest or a 90 minute nap.  Anything in between isn’t good. I have stuck to this, taking 20 minute rests during the week and 90 minutes on the weekends when I can.

The next bit of advice I used was Nick’s pre-bed routine.  Nick recommended about 90 minutes before bed, create a routine that limits the use of LED lights( i.e. screens from mobile devices, computers, TVs’ etc), and do things that calm you down.  I found I could get away with about 45-60 minutes.  I would read, play guitar, and journal most nights during this pre bed routine.

A few weeks later I added in blue light blocking glasses along with tart cherry juice. Listening to Ben Greenfield, he has talked a lot about wearing these glasses at night to help block the light that stops the bodies production of melatonin.  The glasses help the body create it when you need it most, at night.  I would wear these at the start of my pre-bed routine.  I would also drink tart cherry juice and take 2 ZMA capsules as well.  In the past, I have experienced sound sleep while taking ZMA (zinc, magnesium and B6 supplement), and that still happens now.

The tart cherry juice has natural melatonin in it.  Cherries are a high source of melatonin.  Most nights I drink about 4 ounces with my ZMA.  When I need a little extra help getting to sleep because of excitement or a crazy day, I’ll drink up to 8 ounces.

Now going on nearly four months of this, I have stayed away from energy drinks, and only a few times have had caffeinated beverages.  I don’t need much caffeine now to have a major effect!

As I started this, I wondered how long it would take me to feel “normal.”  It’s been so long I no longer knew what well rested felt like.  Certainly have 3 kids in the 7 years didn’t help me get sleep (and my wife has gotten less than me, considerably less, so I can’t complain too much).  It took me about 3 weeks before I felt rested. I figured all the energy crashes and peaks likely were impacting my adrenal functions, so the body was going to need to take time.  But I now say I know what normal feels like again.

 

Runners Massage Studio - 2013