I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in here and thought you could share this with everyone if appropriate.
My experience with Douglas Wisoff has been nothing short of life changing for me, and it all started when I attended one of his seminars.
I wasn’t a runner as a kid. I started running casually after college, 2 to 3 miles a few times a week along the neighborhood sidewalk. I “trained” for local races like the Cherry Creek Sneak and the Bolder Boulder. I even signed up for a marathon training group. I thought running a marathon would be an incredible accomplishment.
About half of the way through marathon training, my body started to break down. Somewhere around the “20 miles per week” level of training, I started to get shin splints. The leaders of the marathon training group told me, “you should get professionally fitted for shoes. Go to Runners Roost.” I did. They fitted me, and I walked out with a $135 pair of shoes. The shin splints got a little better.
About 3/4 of the way through the program, I dropped out of a 18 mile group training running. I had a pain on the side of my knee that made it excruciating to take steps. My doctor sent me to a physical therapist that diagnosed it as an inflamed IT band. He prescribed some exercises and 2 weeks of rest. I dropped out of the marathon training group, and complied perfectly. The pain went away, until I tried to run again. The same pain, with the same intensity, came back after a mile of running. Over the next few months, I would try resting, physical therapy and running without any success.
Has to be the therapist’s fault, right? I tried another, and then another, and another. I even traveled to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs a few times to meet with a specialist (a guy that invented something called Active Release). I had great insurance but was still paying a co-pay for each visit. I was in deep – several thousand dollars (one $20 co-pay at a time). I was on my second pair of custom orthotics and had a basement full of stretchy bands, massage sticks, foam rollers, compression socks and other items meant to help. I had my gait video analyzed by a coach at CU who told me it looked “great, if not excellent.” … oh yeah, and don’t forget all the acupuncture!
But the pain was getting worse. It was now painful just to walk around the house. My leg even hurt in bed! At this point, all I wanted to do was walk (f***ing walk!) without pain. I stepped it up a bit and went to the Steadman Clinic in Vail. This is the place where all the pro athletes go to get their knees fixed. I had an MRI, and they confirmed my fear, “this looks structural. You’re not going to fix this through rehab. We need to do surgery.”
I knew my fate was probably surgery. I figured that the only thing I hadn’t tried yet was something more “alternative” though, and I should give that one shot before going under the knife. That is when I remembered a really weird guy that came to do a seminar after one of the marathon training group workouts. I thought the guy was weird because he told the crowd that he had run several 100 mile races. I didn’t know that such a thing existed! The guy was lean and looked to be about 40 years old. He told us he was over 50. I also remember him saying that he had had a knee surgery 25 years ago.
I looked him up – his name was Douglas Wisoff, Physical Therapist – and found that he had an office in Boulder. That would certainly qualify as “alternative.” I made an appointment and went to see him. I showed up ready for some stretching and bending and moving on his therapy table. But we didn’t do that. I thought maybe he’d have me run. We didn’t do that either. I simply took off my shoes, and walked up and down the hallway of his office while he watched. He nodded like he had seen this many times before. Then, he pulled out a video camera to show me what he saw. When we watched the video together he was pointing out things like a “dropped shoulder” and “tilted pelvis.” He pointed out 6 or 7 things that he seemed to see clearly. I still had no idea what he was talking about. But this still seemed better than surgery. I decided to come back.
The next few times I visited, we kept walking. Still no running. No water jogging. No balance ball work or wobble boards. No resistance bands or foam rollers. All we did was walk. And talk a lot. And things started to click. I could start to feel the things he was talking about in the video. I could feel a difference in my walk after making the oh-so-slight adjustments he suggested. A few weeks of this, and we moved along to running.
NO JOKE, after 2+ years of pain and facing a “no choice” surgery, I was running without pain for miles at a time. It wasn’t “less pain”, it was “no pain!” I threw out my orthotics (at Douglas’s request), and started to ramp up my mileage. After a few months, I jumped back into a marathon training program under Douglas’s direction. I ran my first marathon in 3:30. I ran some faster before getting the bug to run longer distances. Last summer, I ran my first 50K (32mile) race. I finished 5th in my division.
I’ve worked with Douglas for about 4 years. I’ve been down a few times with injuries, but in each case, they were related to my form and were fixed quickly and without major reductions to training. Heck, I even “ran through” a sprained ankle for 20 miles one time … it wasn’t about bearing the pain, it was about correcting the form and letting my body move naturally and efficiently. There was no pain.
Experiences like that have profoundly changed the way I view running. I now see running as an opportunity to study how the body moves and how we interact with forces like gravity and inertia. The running motion to me is now about the whole body, not just my feet. This greater understanding of how all the “parts are connected” has helped me in so many other athletic pursuits. And none of this even recognizes the stronger effect running has had on my life emotionally … running alone in the woods with your thoughts for 20 miles can open up parts of your soul you didn’t know about (see, I told you this was alternative!).
Douglas helped me to become a good runner. I’m definitely not elite, but I feel like running can be an enjoyable part of my life, and for a long time to come. I feel like I can now run without pain. And if pain arises, I feel like I know what to do about it. I absolutely love this! I highly recommend Douglas to anyone that wishes they could run effortlessly and feel strong and full of energy.
—Troy Lerner, Denver, CO