What if on your final year of your professional cycling career you decided to try and fix your body to go for that elusive National medal? What if you decided to share the journey, the good, the bad and the ugly, with everyone? What if you decided to open that curtain to show the injuries and aftermath that can happen in cycling?
That’s exactly what Kristin Sanders is doing as she approaches her 41st birthday. If you know Sanders, you know that she is full of energy and is embarking into this project, or as she says “the project is me”, all in.
“I have decided that 2012 will more than likely be my last year and I’m not holding anything back. I’m going to see the top person to fix me.” Sanders explained.
“The goal is to go me straight, get me on top of my pedals, accessing all the power that I have and seek a medal at the National Time-Trial, so that’s the focal point. But the bigger picture is that, kind of woven into the very fiber of me, is this desire and urge to reach out to people.”
“So what I want to do is share this experience with other cyclist, specifically women because frankly people don’t talk about injuries a lot at the professional level but everybody has them. It’s part of the sport or part of any sport that(everybody is) either on one side or the either, (everybody) has some little thing that could be big or small, either you’re going into it or coming out of it but everybody has them and everybody deals with them and nobody talks about it. I hope that I inspire people of all athletic levels, and maybe some who are not even athletes, to take stuff head on and face it, to know that it’s okay, your body is not perfect and that you can still accomplish amazing things if you put your mind to it.”
And so, Sanders is sharing her thoughts online on her new blog, 41andfearless. At the same time, we will be frequently catching up with her via words, videos to get her thoughts on her progress.
An athlete for all her life, where she practiced four sports at the elite level, Sanders found that her body is somewhat not cooperating anymore.
“So when I’m riding my bike these days I feel like I have all this power, all this strength but on my left side I can’t access it, it feels like my foot is in front of the pedal. My right side feels like it’s fully engaging and pushing a lot of power. My left side feels like it’s just kind of flailing out there on its own. I’ve been through all kinds of analysis and rehab, trying to figure it out, exercises and stretching and strengthening and nothing has really worked.”
She has no idea where this body issue came from, but she does have different theories. “I have a little bit of history with migraines, which are neurological, so I wonder if it could be a neurological, that the muscles just don’t fire properly on the left and over the years of racing my bike, the motion became more and more exaggerated. Another theory is that it’s from a crash, I had a pretty bad crash four years ago that was on the left side, so possibly I knocked myself crooked and I never got right. Or maybe from that crash I developed some bad habits from trying to compensate because, of course, I didn’t take two weeks off and fully recover. I took two days off and went to another race.”
After doing research to find a physical therapist, Sanders chose to work with Curtis Cramblett of Revolutions In Fitness. “I’m going to see the top person to fix me, and I’ve gone down that path and gotten some incredible references on Curtis Cramblett who, quote, is “amazing.” I’ve gotten that reference on him from two different people at the very top of the sport.”
The first session with Cramblett was done over Skype video.
“He asked me to do a few different things so he could watch the way my body naturally moved. He picked up on the littlest tiniest details of the way I twist and turn and the way that my body functions, things that I can somewhat feel but would never have been able to put my finger on until he really pointed it out. Little tiny things like the way that my toe moves, he was able to pick up over the skype session, it was amazing.”
It’s not just the left side. “He actually noted in that first skype session that there are some things that happen with my right foot that are contributing to my situation. I assumed that this was a left side issue but it’s really a full body issue according to Curtis. I went through all these movements and he showed me some beginning level exercises to start to trigger different muscle movements. He taught me a few, four or five little things that I’m doing right now that I can actually feel changing the way my body moves. It’s pretty cool.”
One the trainer, you can see Sanders left hip moves up off the saddle when she pedals with her let side.
“The way you can tell is the Giordana logo on the back on my shorts, it’s perfectly square and it’s exactly on the same spot on both sides. On the right side that little Giordana logo is perfectly still, on the left side, that little logo moves up and down, up and down as the hip moves up as a I pedal. When I rode on the trainer at the beginning of our session, it was pretty dramatic, we went through analysis and then he showed me a few exercises, I actually did them while he was watching me to make sure I was doing them correctly and at the end I got back on the trainer. The movement was around 40% resolved. (My hip) was moving 40% less in an hour and a half time.”
Throughout the session, Sanders was given exercises to do. “It’s not even extensive stuff, it’s not strength work, it’s little tiny things like rolling a ball with my foot and controlling the way my foot moves on that boll, it’s the tiniest little things. I’m not in the weight room, I’m just learning ways to control my body differently and the way that it needs to get back to working so that I function properly.”
One of those exercises was on the foam roller. “I have not known, through all the years that I’ve been trying to sort this out, if I was tight, or weak, or loose, or strong, or what. I didn’t know if the foam roller was a good thing or a bad thing and if I should do it on the right side or the left side.” Sanders laughed. “I just didn’t feel symmetrical and so (Curtis) having me rolling on the left side and controlling my right foot and a few (other) different things he taught me in that one hour session has changed my body 40%, which is incredible.”
The second and third sessions with Cramblett will be in person, this weekend.
Once she gets further along with her work with Cramblett, Sanders will sit down with her coach to plan for the USA National Championships.
“I’m going be working with a coach on that and we haven’t laid out the plan yet because Curtis is going to be a critical piece. Curtis and I are at the beginning stages of my situation analysis and once we have analyzed where I’m at and what it’s going to take from his end of the project, the project being me, then we’ll be able to determine exactly what is going to go on on the bike in terms of becoming a better cyclist.”
Sanders raced on the Colavita Forno d’Asolo team which announced that it would not continue in 2012. Sanders has secured a new team which will be announced in the next few weeks.