Go! Press Play! From Training Table to Cross-Country Trek

Train. Recover. Ride. Inspire. At Body Gears, it’s about enhancing human mechanics through the entire journey with patients like Andrew Mortenson.

A physical therapist is specially trained to help you restore activity, strength and motion. This usually occurs after an injury or surgery and PTs teach you specific exercises, stretches and other techniques to help you get back to your normal activities. Did you know that those exercises, stretches and techniques are things that you can continue to do? They can become a regular part of your body care regime.

At Body Gears, we base all treatment plans around Functional Manual Therapy® (FMT). FMT blends evaluation and treatment and combines mobility treatment with neuromuscular facilitation. This means Body Gears therapists teach you to use the correct muscles at the right time with the right strength and endurance. We equip you with the tools to maintain optimal function after your treatment is done.

Long time Body Gears patient, Andrew Mortenson, is a perfect example of how a patient can use the tools you learn at Body Gears to achieve your highest goals. COVID hit the airline industry hard and Andrew was forced to take voluntarily leave from his job at United Airlines because of it. He needed an outlet and decided he was going to take a 4,400 mile trek across the country on his bike. He put what he learned as a Body Gears patient to work and set off on his 44 day journey!

We had the opportunity to sit down with Andrew, while he was on his adventure, and ask him a few questions about how Body Gears helped him accomplish his goal.

Body Gears: How long did you prepare for your cross-country bike ride and how did the team at Body Gears help you with that preparation?

Andrew: I started training in June, three months before my late-August start. Unbeknownst to me, my training then for the (rescheduled) Boston Marathon served as my cardio base, but after the race was cancelled I switched to cycling, hatching my cross-country plan. The Body Gears team actually got me back running first as I recovered from an Achilles issue in the spring. After cycling more, I then developed severe pelvic pain and hip mobility issues which made riding miserable, to the point where I considered quitting altogether. Thanks to Kit Durban, PT, DPT, ATC and the Body Gears team, I learned invaluable stretches and mobility exercises – along with some crucial bike fit tweaks – which made riding 100% pain-free.

Body Gears: How long did the ride take you?

Andrew: I rode from Pacific to Atlantic in 44 days covering a winding, scenic route of 4,400 miles. My ride took me from around Neah Bay in the northwest corner of Washington, went across 11 states and ended up at the Victory Monument in Yorktown, Virginia. It took 41 days riding and 3 injury days.

Body Gears: What exercises or stretches that you learned from Body Gears helped you the most during your ride?

Eccentric heel drops (I think that’s what they’re called) got me back riding after my Achilles tendonitis flared up and kept me from riding for two days. I did these every day for the 34 days after that. (Side story, I couldn’t find a step to do them on one day so I stood on top of a table at my hotel. The table tipped over and I crashed onto the floor, bruising my knee so bad that it swelled up and I needed to take a third off-day. The irony! Moral of the story: be diligent in performing your exercises, but be careful where you do them 🙂

Hip flexibility and groin stretches also helped tremendously.

Body Gears: What advice would you give someone that wanted to ride cross country?

Go! Press play! It felt like I could’ve planned for six months more, reviewing every route option, training more, or fine-tuning my pack. At some point I realized I just needed to go. I could figure out the rest along the way. So I booked a one-way ticket and let it rip.

The riding is training! I over-emphasized training beforehand. The best preparation for long-distance touring is, well, long-distance touring. Go as you are – your legs will follow, building strength over the days and weeks ahead. I actually gained seven pounds as the muscles in my quads and glutes filled out; my metamorphosis from runner to biker!

Body Gears: How did the team at Body Gears help you recover after the ride?

The support and encouragement for my ride has been overwhelming as I raise funds for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention nonprofit. I decided to extend my journey down the Atlantic Coast to Key West, Florida and continue fundraising. So while I won’t be at Body Gears until November at the earliest, I’ve got a growing list of new aches and tweaks that will need addressing.

Follow Andrew on Instagram to learn more about the Trevor Project, a cause near and dear to him. 

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