If you recall from earlier blogs, I first starting working with young Tej (age 14) 9 months ago. Diagnosed with Autism at age 2, he has developed into an outstanding young man due to the undying love and support of his parents and 1000s of hours of treatment from a plethora of specialists, some of whom continue to work with him to this day.
You may also recall that his mother, Susan, hired me to teach Tej how to run safely and efficiently without pain. All Tej wanted was to play sports with his peers and feel like part of the ‘gang’. From a young lad who had no control over his lower body and had trouble walking let alone running pain free, he is now doing full-on 50 metre SPRINT repeats on a field!!From the photos above, you can see that the form requires some work BUT the progress from 9 months ago is beyond fantastic. Tej requested that I help him learn to sprint after gaining confidence in the process of running pain-free.
In yesterday’s training session, I tested Tej’s ability to balance on 1 leg with his eyes closed and Barefoot-Science inserts (he is now at the highest level – #7) in his shoes. He easily went beyond my 1 minute time limit on each foot. This from not even being able to do so when we first started. I then did an advanced test where Tej had to run on the spot with his eyes closed for 1 minute, staying between the pylons. As you will see below, he held position for about 20 seconds and then wandered forward and slightly to his left (his weaker side). This indicates some weakness in his left gluteal muscles and hip adductor muscles. We will strengthen these.I then tested his body symmetry and, sure enough, his left leg presented a full inch shorter than his right (we had not worked together for 2 weeks and expected that he would be ‘locked up’ and out of alignment). See photo below.I took Tej through my series of unlocking drills (the 1 knee hip stretch, 1 leg swing, SkiEx (Functional Chain Trainer cords) and Health Bridges. After doing these, he was back in perfect symmetry (see photo above). My next component of the session involved balancing on the Bosu Ball with eyes closed and barefoot along with jumping on and off said Balls with and without a tension band around the ankles. These are all drills that Tej could not even attempt when we first started. Now, he does them with me nowhere in sight – quickly, powerfully and with no hesitation. Quite incredible, actually!
The running weave drills (especially when the bending hand touch was added) showed Tej’s progress in following complex directions and completing a multi-dimensional task quickly and with confidence. Nine months ago, he simply could NOT even attempt the drills shown below.This set him up to do a trial run indoors before we went outdoors to sprint. His running technique has improved to the point where he moves quietly with no pain AND can do so over much greater distances without fatigue. These are incredibly HUGE steps for Tej.Of course, now that Tej has hit puberty AND many of his colleagues are “hitting the weights”, he also wants to learn the ins and outs of strength training. With the support of his mother, the old coach has agreed to take young Tej into the world of strength training. I will do so with caution, focusing on PERFECT TECHNIQUE of each exercise with NO resistance in the form of Olympic bars and plates to start. Look for an update on his progress later this summer!
In the meantime, use Tej’s story and journey as incentive to get yourself and/or those you love more physically active – the barefoot way. At the end of the day, there is NO EXCUSE!!