Mark Wood Explorer

Mark Wood Explorer

Working with an Explorer

As a sports massage therapist I come in to contact with many clients from different types of sporting backgrounds presenting with many different types of injuries. Having a varied sports history myself I am able to identify with the strains of different sports and how a client might have obtained their injury or problem.

No ordinary challenge

As a sports massage therapist I come in to contact with many clients from different types of sporting backgrounds presenting with many different types of injuries. Having a varied sports history myself I am able to identify with the strains of different sports and how a client might have obtained their injury or problem.

Knowing how the body moves through the planes of motion enables you to gain a better picture of what muscles are causing the clients problems. But when you get an ultra-elite athlete walking through your door at your clinic and they tell you they are taking on a world first of skiing solo to both the North and South Poles in the same season, and that you have only 3 months to resolve several long standing injuries that could jeopardize the whole expedition, all your skills and knowledge are pushed to the limits.


Mark Wood international polar explorer was taking on a world first; attempting to be the first person in history to ski solo – unsupported and unaided to both the South Geographic and the North Geographic Pole’s consecutively, and according to patron Sir Ranulph Fiennes as “the toughest journey on the planet”.
 
Mark Wood say’s there are 3 main reasons for the expedition;
 
•    Education: On ice he will be connecting with schools from around the globe and at times calling directly into classrooms to talk to students from the extremes of the planet.
•    Environmental: Mark will be highlighting the dangers in climate change.
•    A personal journey
 
Mark Wood has led over twenty five major expeditions in the extremes of our planet – Mark says “I see my role as an explorer as someone who can communicate my experiences to both students and companies to stimulate interest about their own planet.”

Mark presented with two problems; his shoulder and calf muscle. Mark had previous physio treatment for his shoulder but this had never really solved the problem, he described that he had suffered with the condition for several years and had developed a live with it attitude.

I explained that many conditions are due to imbalances and working posture, both of which could be reversed or fixed. Firstly, the muscles needed stretching and being made tension free, a couple of sessions of sports massage treatment soon benefited Mark's muscles and he mentioned how much freer he was able to move. He mentioned that it was the first time he had moved his shoulder without pain or discomfort.
After six sports massage sessions we moved to correcting the imbalances with strength and conditioning exercise programme. Working together we devised a workout programme that would fit around Mark's heavy schedule of meetings with sponsors, we would train outside to build cardio endurance and in the gym to build strength and improve muscle imbalances.

When training for any event you have to train with functional movement, it's no good cycling if you are going to do a running event; although it will help with cardio training it will not improve your running style. This was the same with Mark's training, we used the hills at the parks and used equipment like ski poles and weighted sledges to recreate the feeling Mark would have on his challenge.

Gym work involved using free weights to strengthen his shoulder, while also using balance boards and  Dome boards to recreate the feeling of walking on unstable ground. Using equipment that works on your balance can greatly help with strength.

We also kept up with regular massage sessions to prevent any muscle tension and to speed up recovery in-between exercise workouts. Part of Mark's training was a trip to the Himalayas for some altitude conditioning. Within a few weeks Mark was unexpectedly back in the UK. Mark injured his knee while rescuing a local during an earthquake, as soon as Mark landed in the UK we arranged to meet and assess the damage to his knee. A quick analysis showed only minor damage, but we needed to work quickly to strengthen his leg muscles as the South Pole leg was fast approaching.

Mark set of for the South Pole and completed the first leg in 50 days, a quick stop of back in the UK we where able to fit a couple of sports massage treatments in, this helped Mark to recover quicker while also being able to check on his previous injuries and benefit Mark with some much needed muscle stretching. I gave Mark the all clear before he set of for the North Pole. Mark completed the North Pole stage and returned home safely. However, this was not the end of the journey for Mark or me...

A third leg was added to the challenge, Everest Summit. Mark wouldn't be doing this leg alone, a small team of two sherpas and an altitude doctor where assembled to assist Mark in this, another world first of Skyping at the summit of the world's highest peak.

Marks fitness was still in good condition thanks to the hard work we had achieved before the Polar legs; it was just a matter of checking injuries and stretching the muscles out with sports massage treatments. Mark left with his team to tackle the world's highest mountain, the challenge came to a unsuccessful end; with only a few hundred metres to the summit Mark and his team had to stop and turn around, several members of the team had become increasingly unwell and Mark had to make the difficult decision to turn back and return to base camp, although Mark didn't reach the summit he saved the lives of his team members, a return to Everest is planned.
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Part of the challenge was to educate local schools in Coventry, the importance of climate change. Mark was able to do this via Skype internet linking while in the Polar regions. Mark also organized a challenge open day for the schools to attend,, which was featured on Central news. Mark asked me to attend the open day and set up a fitness area to show the children what we had done regarding training for the challenges.

Over 200 children completed the fitness programme using some of the equipment Mark and I used during his training.
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