a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Something For My Knee and This Weekend

Friday, October 20, 2006

Something For My Knee and This Weekend

SUMMARY: I have a wrap for my knee, which I'll try at this weekend's USDAA competition.

My knew knee hinge.

The human body is an amazing collection of limbs, joints, skin, and protruberances of various sorts. It always seems amazing that we can move around on two legs--even stand completely motionless on two legs--without falling over. Have you ever tried to balance something atop two sticks? Will the assemblage stay upright? Well, perhaps, if the sticks have some sort of horizontal foot that is heavier than whatever you've balanced atop them, and that locks in place. But our body is quite top-heavy compared to our spindly ankles--which, incidentally, can flex in many directions without bending, and yet we still remain upright.

Our body's ability to do this is called proprioception, which is a collection of inputs given to our brain from assorted mechanisms such as the inner ears--which affect our balance--and the tension and pressure going on between and among hundreds or thousands of muscles and tendons within our body. All is fed back to our brain, which allows us--most of us, at any rate--to chew gum while walking, without either having to watch our feet and without our tongue getting in the way of our teeth.

Proprioception is more than a little important to athletes. Without it, Monday night football would be... well, perhaps far more entertaining, but more likely would be a pile of inert collections of skin and bone lying around on the field waiting for someone with a better-developed sense of their body's position and orientation to come along and kick the ball. Without it, you'd always fail the touch-your-nose drunk-driver test.

I mention this because my orthopedist says that, with my kind of injury, a knee brace isn't going to do much for the injury. However, what she says it will do--what any kind of wrap or brace or support does--is somehow add to the information that the body collects into the package called proprioception. In theory, one becomes more aware of the joint and what it's doing without being aware that you're aware of it. I think this is cool.

The man who fitted me with a knee hinge (they don't call it a brace--it has stiff metal inserts up the sides with hinges in the middle) says that it does help to provide support when turning, so maybe the knee won't grind down as much on the torn menisci. Maybe.

So, this weekend I'm going to Madera for a USDAA trial. I've been preparing. I'm working the score table, so I won't have time to do a lot of walking around. I'm staying in a motel, so no hauling or setting up tents or van for sleeping. Friends are letting me share their canopy, so I shouldn't have to haul nearly as much stuff out to the field. Tika has been practicing with a guy in my class, so he can run her some runs. I'm going to try to run her in Snooker, which will be very challenging because, for SuperQs, you really need to push your dog, and I don't know whether I can do that.

And I'm going to try running Boost some and see what happens.

Overall, though, I'm going to try to save myself for Nationals while still getting in some experimental running. Then I've got 2 weeks to recover before we leave town for Scottsdale on Halloween morning.

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