In early March, I had the distinct privilege to be involved as a presenter and attendee at the 2nd annual Pacific Northwest Symposium put on by Empiridence Seminars. This topic of the symposium was the lower extremity and the focus of my pre-conference and platform presentations related to running injury management. After being invited to speak, I soon realized that I would be among some heavy hitters in the medical and rehab field between George Davies, Greg and Vicky Johnson, Dr. McClanahan, Matt Walsh as well as many others. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me and could not disappoint.
After a beautiful drive down to Portland on a sunny Friday morning, I connected with Karl Kolbeck, who heads up Empiridence and was the mastermind (along with his wife and amazing team) behind this event. Im not sure how Karl found the time for lunch given the associated duties of running a conference, but somehow he managed to make time for me (THANKS KARL). After getting some spring rolls from a vendor at a courtyard filled with food trucks, we talked shop for a while before touring Pettygrove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation while meeting some of his staff. To no surprise, his facility was amazing. After wrapping things up I ventured over to the Doubletree Hotel where the event was being held.
After dropping things off in my room and running over to Macy's to get a dress shirt, which I happened to forget because Im used to wearing spandex, I unpacked my belongings before hearing a rap at the door. Upon opening the door, I was greeted by an employee of the hotel who had a large gift basket in his hand. I thought this was a simple mistake as I was not expecting anything though he handed me the basket and mentioned that this was a gift from Karl and his team. What a nice touch as it was filled with a great bottle of Pinot Noir from Oregon, salmon, and coffee from a local roaster as well as a few other items. I couldn't think of a better way to start the weekend.
The pre-conference got underway at 4pm that Friday and I was really excited not only because it was sold out with a waiting list, but also because I would meet the legend, Matt Walsh, for the first time. Matt is one of the instructors for Empiridence Seminars and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to running injury management and performance training. He also happens to be a dynamic speaker and curses quite a bit which he can get away with being an Aussie. For the next four hours we got the chance to delve into running injury management while sharing our unique perspectives. It was comforting to work with Matt because we share very similar thoughts and approaches to working with runners. Although we did not cover everything we could in a four hour period, the presentation seemed well received and all the attendees walked away with a refined approach to working with injured runners.
Naturally, I found myself at the hotel bar thereafter. It's always fun to catch up with folks in a casual environment over drinks while winding down the evening as I find that this affords not only nice social setting but also a chance to discuss clinical matters with my peers in an informal setting. I also had the chance to reconnect with Scot Morrison that evening and we discussed some of Richard Willy's research which proved very enlightening. Scot is one of the great young minds in our field and also possess an uncanny and scientifically based understanding of rehab and strength and conditioning. After having a few too many beers, I turned in knowing that I had a long day ahead of me on Saturday.
The platform presentations on Saturday proved to be nothing short of AWESOME. Some of the presenters included local surgeons as well as clinicians such as Erik Meira, George Davies, and Karl Kolbeck. Needless to say, they did not disappoint! Erik gave an incredibly technical and enlightening presentation related to hip impingement. It would be an understatement to say that Erik knows what he is talking about on this as well as many other topics related to the field. Following Erik, George Davies gave an knockout presentation on rehabilitation for PFPS which shattered several myths related to open and closed chain strengthening that served to demystify exercise selection in this challenging population of patients. George is undeniably one of the most passionate clinicians that I've ever met and delivers engaging, evidence-based presentations with invaluable takeaways. I also learned that he is a third degree blackbelt to add to his laundry list of credentials, which barely fit on the same line after his name :-). Additionally, Karl Kolbeck managed to somehow find the time to put together two amazing presentations related to rehabilitation following ACL reconstruction as well as managing patients with tendinopathy disorders. All of these presentations were excellent and provided attendees with a refined approach to helping a broad array of patients dealing with lower extremity dysfunction.
During lunch on Saturday, several attendees also had the chance to listen to Lopez Lomong's story, "Running For My Life." This was undoubtedly one of the most touching stories I've ever heard as he recounted how he almost lost his life while struggling to escape Sudan to make his way to the United States before finally becoming the flag bearer for the U.S. Olympic during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Games. What an incredible athlete and kind person. Id strongly encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with his story to read his book as it will put things in perspective while making us all realize how lucky we are.
On Saturday evening, Karl and his team were also kind enough to host dinner for all of the speakers at Brix tavern in the Pearl District of Portland, which is a funky, upbeat part of the city. This was a great opporunity to catch up with everyone while enjoying some amazing food. I also had the chance to connect with Greg and Vicky Saliba Johnson (no relation), who pulled me aside during dinner to inform me that I had one of the most amazing gaits they've ever seen. For those who know me, this made my day considering that I spend an inordinate amount of time refining my walking mechanics not to mention that Greg and Vicky are two of the most well respected clinicians in the world while also heading up the Institute of Physical Art. During dinner, I also had the chance to meet Dr. Ray McClanahan, who is a podiatrist in Portland and the inventor of Correct Toes. Not only was it insightful to speak with him but he was also kind enough to give me a free pair of correct toes, which are a helpful adjunct to foot care, especially for runners. After dinner, I headed back to the hotel to get some rest since I was scheduled to speak on Sunday.
Platform presentations are always a bit nerve wracking especially considering that this was essentially my debut on the speaking circuit in the Pacific NW and I was following several great presenters. After listening to the morning presentations ranging from functional rehab of foot disorders to managing the "geezer jock," I was able to sneak away for lunch with my good friend and PT extraordinaire Jay Villareal, who heads up Therapydia Portland. Jay is one of the coolest and smartest clinicians I know and he was kind enough to show me his new space while treating me to lunch at an amazing Thai restaurant. He also took the time listen to my presentation over lunch, which was the last chance I would have to rehearse my talk.
My talk ended up taking place during the early afternoon on Sunday, which can be a challenging time as it's not uncommon for folks to start dragging after a long weekend of sitting while thinking about the impending work week ahead. Fortunately, I felt like the talk went off with a bang. I specifically discussed single leg balance evaluation and treatment considerations for the injured runner, which I will share with viewers in an upcoming webinar. Although it was only a forty five minute presentation, I managed to get through my 185 slides just in the nick of time. I also received great feedback from folks so I was happy with how things went. I was also excited and relieved to be finished because I was finally able to kick back and listen to Matt Walsh, who was up next followed by Erik Moen. If I were in charge of awards, Matt Walsh definitely got my bid for one of the best presentations of the weekend. Not only is Matt a gifted runner, but he also knows the research cold which is further complimented by his rich experience as a clinician in addition to his funny and light hearted demeanor. I found myself taking copious notes on his presentation because every last bit of information that he presented was directly relevant to managing injured runners. If you haven't heard Matt speak or attended one of his courses, Id strongly encourage you to do so.
Despite the fact that it felt like summer in Portland that weekend and that we were cooped up inside, there is no place I would have rather been than spending time with a phenomenal group of speakers and interested attendees at an amazingly well planned and executed event. In closing I just want to thank our sponsors as well as Karl and Sasha and their amazing team for inviting me to speak and hosting the 2nd annual Pacific Northwest Symposium. This will undoubtedly become one of the premier conferences in the country and I look forward to taking part in years to come. I hope that everyone who attended had a great experience and walked away with a wealth of knowledge. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone next year! I also look forward to returning to Portland on May 16-17, 2015 as Karl and Sasha were kind enough to host me to teach two day course entitled, "System of a Run." at Pettygrove. If you enjoyed the material that I presented at the symposium, you will love this continuing education course. Hope to see you there!
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