the proof is in the results...
Hear what our clients have to say below.
I’ve really enjoyed the personal challenge of triathlon over the years. I’ve done four Ironman races including the World Championships in Kona, as well as a variety of triathlon distances over the years – Sprint to Half, and Xterra. While I’ve had some personal successes, I’ve also had challenges with gut issues and feel like I have yet to do my best, so I have more to prove to before I’m done with the sport.
After my last race three years ago, a combination of job workload and a weird recurring injury (Morton’s Neuroma?) pretty much reduced my activity to nothing (maybe an occasional hike). Then, I felt the urge to race again, even though my injury had not cleared up, and picked the AZ Ironman race for my return. I had performance and “gut issue” goals to measure my success.
I discovered that the time off had really taken its toll – my ability to train was significantly limited. I started with some very light bike rides six months before the race. About three months out, I “amped up” my training, if you can call it that. In total, I was only able to do about 20 rides before the race, a few of them were 3 hours and the rest shorter – 2 hours or less. I got to the pool five times, accumulating 35 minutes of continuous swimming, and never more than 15 minutes in one session. Running wise, I did a total of 3 run/walks of 10 minutes each (after three of the rides). My total training load over the months was only a small fraction of what I have done in the past. Additionally, I trained nowhere near the actual discipline distances I would be covering in the race.
Two weeks before the race I decided to do a daily regime of respiration training (breathing drills), because I was going to need any help I could get just to complete this race, let alone meet any pre-race objectives. I spend about 45 minutes every day on various inspiration and expiration drills in the hope that it would make some difference in my performance. As it would turn out, the results were mind-blowing!
I swam 2.4 miles in 1:20, just 4 minutes off my Kona time! I was purposefully trying to take it easy, but I never expected to feel as great as I did. My breathing was never challenged which is really unusual for an IM swim under any circumstance, and I felt great getting out of the water. The bike was even better! I finished 10 minutes off my best time (on the same course) and 10 minutes better than Kona! My speed was better than any of the bike training I had done (which preceded respiration training), and yet I felt like I was riding very comfortably below my lactate threshold, but still with power for the whole 112 miles! My run/walk was about on par with prior IMs, but I had already had way more success than I felt I deserved. I had the usual leg fatigue and crisis to push through but generally felt fresher and less winded than prior IMs. Even my recovery was quite normal. Using Z-Health drills, I’d always been able to recover fairly quickly, and I saw no differences this time despite the massive training deficit.
All in all, I was amazed at how much respiration training and relaxed racing made up for my injury, time off and lack of mileage! I can’t wait to try it again when I’m healthier and better trained.
– Shannon M.
I thought my running career was over; now I win Spartan Races!
I’ve had a long and evolving running career. I started running in college and did my first 10k shortly thereafter. I ran my first marathon in my 40s and have done several 1/2 marathons since. I finished 3 Pikes Peak Ascents and one Pikes Peak Marathon, taking 3rd in my age group for the Triple Crown of Running (a series of 3 races). I love challenges and 15 months ago took up Spartan Racing. This year I finished 1st in my age group in the Open Division of the Breckenridge Beast!
I should also mention that I have a long history of medical challenges. I’ve had cancer, been in a horrific car accident and had double carpal tunnel surgeries, among other issues. The accumulated result was that I had very little upper body strength and mobility which made many of the Spartan obstacles even more challenging! Try picking up a 75 lb. Atlas stone when you’re 5’2”, your spine doesn’t move much and your grip is virtually non-existent (needed help opening jars).
I had gone for help to a number of practitioners and utilized modalities including chiropractic, physical therapy, hypnosis for the chronic pain and headaches… all without much lasting success. Interestingly, my thoracic spine was so locked up from the car accident that none of the chiropractors could fully adjust me! A fellow Spartan racer recommended that I see Grove Higgins and I did. Grove has a unique blend of neurology, biomechanics, soft tissue and chiropractic skills and mastery in each. He, too, tried to adjust my spine, but when it didn’t work, the difference in his approach became apparent. Instead of quitting, recommending 12 visits for more of the same or recommending heat or massage as the others did, he shifted lenses to a neurological approach. If my spine was being held tight protectively by my brain, what else could we do to reduce the
the threat and get it to loosen its grip?
It started with improving joint mobility in other areas of my body that could move. I now understand that improving your brain’s map of your movement capabilities reduced overall threat substantially. I also had brain trauma from the car accident and a previous history of vestibular issues (couldn’t hang upside down without the world spinning). We worked on improving my sensory (vision and balance) and breathing skills. The accumulated reduction in threat from mobility, sensory and breathing work relaxed my brain’s hold on my spine to the point where it could be adjusted and we could work on more active movement and control like posture.
It didn’t stop there though. Grove, being a multi-skilled athlete himself, quickly grasped the other skills I would need to successfully complete in Spartan racing. Once we had mobility and posture we were able to address sport-specific strength and coordination. As a result, I’ve improved dramatically.
I recognize that the bulk of NeuroRunner’s audience might have an “Interesting, but what does this have to do with running?” reaction to what I’ve related so far. So let me add this. My running has improved immensely through this process! I never realized how much spinal mobility and arm strength would translate into running endurance and power. I also never understood the value of sensory and mobility training, and even shoes (I’ve switched to zero-drop) in injury prevention. On the descent of the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2009, I managed to fall twice, sprain both ankles (I have an enduring relationship with ankle sprains, too) and pull both hamstrings! Since working with Grove, I’ve rolled my ankle once or twice, amazingly without consequence! My improved mobility and body map made this a total non-event. All of this has improved my skill and confidence in downhill running which played into my performance in Breckenridge.
Perhaps most importantly, it has allowed me to continue to run. Previously, whenever I ran a significant distance, tension accumulated in my neck and upper back to the point where I had migraines. I thought I would have to give up running anything over a 10K. That has cleared up as a result of the work I’ve done with Grove. I now can not only continue to race, but continue to improve. And I can offer hope to my friends who think they might have to give up running for some nagging injury or pain, too!
– Mary Jo C.
Colorado Springs, CO
I’ve been a pretty high-performing athlete in 3 different sports. I was on the US Junior National Team as a gymnast and competed at a high level in college. Facing years of work with an uncertain selection process to compete at the Olympic and world championship level, I decided to switch to motorcycle racing and advanced to one of the top 5 riders in the US. The economics of the sport became prohibitive so I became a coach and took up Enduro mountain bike racing to feed my competitive spirit. While I still feel I’m improving in the sport, I’d likely be ranked in the top 100 riders internationally.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some good coaching, support and mentoring along the way. I learned a lot about how to train, develop skills and take care of myself physically. The Olympic Training Center (particularly the Russian coaches), the California Superbike School and now Grove Higgins have really contributed to my success as an athlete and a coach. Gymnastics is all about skill progressions. Unusually, we also use skill progressions at the school where I coach motorcycle racing (most people just ride to learn). Additionally, the school exposed me to sensory training and particularly the value vision skills bring to your performance. Grove has helped me bring it all together, by understanding neurology in view of what I’d experienced as an athlete and coach.
I went to see Grove on the recommendation of another pro mountain biker, Kelli Emmett because I wanted to feel better today and when I’m older. High-level gymnastics pushes your body to the limit every day. You are pretty much continuously rehabbing injuries and I had my share. At one point I had shooting pains in my back and legs daily. My back was still chronically nagging me and I wanted to see if I could do something about it. As many athletes do, I’d gotten good at compensating for movement restrictions by using muscles that weren’t intended for the purpose. That, in turn, caused muscle tightness and movement restrictions. Grove taught me to use the correct muscles again. He then used strength training to lock it in and improve my coordination – move well first and then add load. Of course, we did some sensory work as well to reduce threat and increase my mobility.
The results are terrific! I feel better than I ever have (partly because you never really feel good doing gymnastics). Old injuries don’t bother me anymore and I’m moving much better. I’m able to get in better body positions for cornering in my racing. And, I’m generating more power on the bike. I’m able to breathe better because of improved chest mobility and that’s helping my performance as well.
I think one of the reasons I’ve been able to transition successfully from one sport to another (and coach) has been my ability to distill the skills needed to be successful and learn them quickly. I find that many others are just hoping to gain those skills by time on the bike, and aren’t progressing as quickly as they could. Grove has broadened my view of skills to include sensory, breathing and movement skills. I like that this is the approach they are taking for each sport at NeuroAthlete. I’m looking forward to NeuroCyclist when it’s available.
– Gerry S.
Colorado Springs, CO
Taking Charge Of My Results
In a previous story, I shared about my journey working through a variety of physical issues so that I could continue my running and Spartan racing career. In this story, I want to talk about how I was able take charge of my own health and fitness and how that was facilitated by Grove Higgins and the way he works with patients.
My first hint that Grove had a different philosophy, was that he said upfront “The results we get will be 20% me and 80% you.” That really resonated with me, because I know my best results come from me doing something, not something being done to me. Every session I had with Grove came with education and “homework.” We not only discovered together what worked for me, but I learned why it worked and how to continue to do it and evaluate it on my own.
Over time I gained enough understanding of neurology and how to put it into practice, that I was finding new things that worked for me on my own. Grove pointed me towards other resources to deepen my knowledge and practice. One of the best was taking a Z-Health Essentials course. I gained a deeper understanding of how my brain and body were working together (in positive and negative ways), and confidence by working on skills that I didn’t think were an issue for me, but still demonstrated improvements. By working with other attendees, I got to see that the concepts I knew were applicable to everyone, but the results varied by individual.
It didn’t take long for my relationship with Grove to evolve from me being the patient to being the practitioner and he being the doctor to being the consultant. I made great progress on my own and now come to see Grove when I get stuck, need fresh ideas or just need a different set of eyes.
I’m very excited that he, Peter, and Pat are working to bring NeuroRunner to market. I think it’s going to help a lot of people take charge of their training, health and fitness.
– Mary Jo C.
Colorado Springs, CO