Staying upright and reviving the Running Man

With a new year comes new accomplishments and new objectives in my journey of recovery. The last few months of 2016 brought with them the ability for me to work harder and longer in a standing position, relying greatly on the Core Align, the piece of Pilates equipment with sliding carts under my feet and a wooden ladder in front of me that has become the most fundamental tool for my rehab.

Only a few months ago, standing and exercising at the Core Align would end with exhaustion after no more than thirty minutes. More than physical or muscle fatigue (which people always ask me about) the thing that would get me the most would be what I refer to as neurological fatigue.

It’s difficult to describe exactly what this feels like but suffice it to say that getting my body into positions that challenge my flexibility, balance, and endurance and then trying to connect to a new movement and push myself as much as possible results in my entire neurological system feeling tired. I’ve been flooding my lower body with so many signals from my brain and telling it to move using the limited pathways of my damaged spinal cord that after a while, the signals just don’t get through as efficiently or successfully as before. It’s as if you have two lanes of fast moving traffic (the signal from my brain) with cars, buses and trucks flying down the roadway and after some time, the two lanes turn into one and the one lane turns into a narrow street which only a car can pass. By the end of it, the traffic can still get through and provide the message to the other side, but it’s much slower.

Much of the work I’m doing now is finding new exercises and movements that tread the line of being so challenging that they seem nearly impossible, and then doing so many repetitions and working through them so hard that I reach neurological fatigue, and then pushing just a bit more. Through this process, the line of exhaustion keeps getting pushed further, my strength improves and I’m able to maintain the connections I’ve made in a standing position more effectively and for a longer duration.

The videos below – aside from showing my first foray into wearing spandex, a necessary item during these chilly winter mornings – indicate just how far I’ve come in the second half of 2016. In each video, I’m working on one specific aspect of the walking and gait cycle that will each contribute to being able to take steps. The shaking in my legs that sometimes occurs (which I’ve written about previously) is a clear indication of reaching that point of neurological fatigue. So without any further ado, let’s get into it:

Video 1

Working on holding my front knee bent and strong while pulling forward with the back leg also bent. It wasn’t that long ago that I was unable to hold my weight in one leg bent for any amount of time; now it’s longer and stronger and more effortless.


Video 2

“The Running Man” Anyone who grew up in the early 90s remembers MC Hammer, his baggy pants and the ubiquitous and memorable dance move that he made famous. Now I’m doing my own version of the Running Man by alternating lunges back and forth on both legs, trying to become faster at sending those neurological signals from my brain and telling my body to switch left and right while maintaining good alignment and body position.



Video 3

Holding a lunge, then rotating open and finding space and flexibility in my ribcage and thoracic spine. Again, only a few weeks before, I couldn’t conceive of staying in a lunge and doing any other kind of movement. It just would have been too much for my neurological system to handle; now it’s become more manageable.


Hopefully this gives a little taste of where I’m at and where I’m moving towards in this new year. More updates to come very soon.

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32 thoughts on “Staying upright and reviving the Running Man

  1. Always inspired by your ongoing recovery – keep it up. 🙂

    On Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 5:39 PM, Arash Recovery wrote:

    > AB posted: “With a new year come new accomplishments and new objectives in > my journey of recovery. The last few months of 2016 brought with them the > ability for me to work harder and longer in a standing position, relying > greatly on the Core Align, the piece of Pilat” >

  2. Way to go, keep up the great work, you are one of the most mentally strong people I’ve even ‘known’. I am noticing that your hamstring is looking great and I see a nice calf muscle too. Your quads look good too but maybe not quite as developed as the hams? Do you find it is more difficult to work the quad muscles, as opposed to the hamstrings?

    1. You are very observant! Yes you have noticed correctly. My quads are harder to work than the other leg muscles. I connect more successfully to my posterior line of muscles (calf, hamstrings, glutes) than I do with quads. In fact, the quads I do have are almost exclusively the lateral quads and very little on the medial side. Still working on that… Thanks for your thoughts -AB

  3. I’m apparently far behind on my blog reading, but this is just amazing! I look at how long you are standing, and now the lunge? Holding the pose and moving your upper body? I love to see how all of the hard work you have put in is manifesting!!

  4. Hey AB! I am new to this, but I just read your story from the beginning and it is really uncanny how similar our stories and journeys are…although mine just started in late October of 2016. The pics of you before and after surgery, your staples in the back of your neck, and your description of your experience in the hospital (my 360 degree surgery was 9 hours and my fusion is c5-t2…BUT I am VERY fortunate to not have any lower body paralysis, as when I fell I was paralyzed from neck down until I got to the nearest Trauma Hospital) are almost identical to mine.

    I was 50 years old, living my lifelong dream of owning and showing my own AWESOME horse, when, while schooling him at a nearby show-jumping competition, I lost my balance and fell after a jump, landing on my head and breaking my neck. (This all happened 12 years after already having cervical fusion (c5-c7) from 2 herniated discs.) When I fell, my cervical vertebra actually broke away from the hardware already in my neck, severely compressing my spinal cord and a portion of my c7 actually stuck into part of my spinal cord. I, like you, was “put back together” by a wonderful Neuro Surgeon and his staff, spent 5 days in ICU on a ventilator, and 7 more days in the hospital where nurses and other staff members took exemplary care of me.

    My husband and I spent our 20th wedding anniversary in the hospital celebrating both our anniversary and the fact that I could wiggle my toes and feel my legs!! For the first 5 days after surgery when I was in ICU on a ventilator, I communicated by spelling with my big toe on the footboard of my hospital bed. (The doctors and nurses were amazed by this, when they would walk past my room and my family members would be staring at the foot of my bed 🙂

    I have now passed the 3 month mark, am free of my “Miami J” neck brace (that you also had), am able to drive (with caution), and am in the process of Occupational and Physical Therapy for my right “limb” from both my spinal injury as well as a brachial plexus injury (from landing with my right arm pulled away from my neck and pinned behind me) and subsequent RSD/CRSP that I developed as a result from the trauma/fracture/surgery.

    I am most likely going to have to stop working…I have been a High School Counselor for the past 15 years, but cannot continue this fast-paced and extremely stressful job without the use of my dominant hand/arm. I still cannot write and typing is very slow. I am currently out on “medical leave” but am having to look into disability and all that goes along with it. So I am definitely moving into a new “season” of my life. Most devastating has been the realization that my days of riding and showing are done. I have sold my Dream Horse and am slowly wrapping my brain around this reality. At least I was able to live out my dream before my accident, even though it was for a brief amount of time.

    So…I have progressed a little and still have a long way to go…But I AM WALKING, and am grateful on a daily basis for that.
    (Looking back at this, I probably should start my own blog…but I’ll have to ponder that some more…)

    Anyway, yesterday I started having shooting pain down my arm and was researching “regenerating nerve pain” and found your blog. I am SO thankful that you have journaled your injury and progress!!!! I will continue to follow your blog, as you have come so far!! You give me hope, which is the single most important thing that keeps many of us going after these devastating, life-changing events.


    1. Hi Cassie (with two S’s). Glad you found the blog and thanks for reading. I hope some of what I have written could be useful to you even though it seems that your injury is much different than mine. Best wishes on your continued recovery. -AB

  5. It’s amazing to see you stand and do all the work for your recovery…are able to move ur both leg toes?…and sending lots of positive energy to you….I believe you that you LL definitely will walk from India

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