A Tandem Strength & Balance client competed in Alpine Skiing in the Winter World Master Games (WWMG) in Innsbruck Austria in January. Her journey to compete in the 40+ year old Olympics started in March of 2019. Lilla is an active and vibrant lady and has been competing competitively in alpine skiing for close to 40 years. She started using Tandem Strength & Balance again because she wanted to get ready for ski season following some setbacks. Lilla would rather not focus on a few things that make her story even more inspiring:
- Lilla is 80 years old.
- Over a year ago she broke her hip while skiing and had to take a break for recovery.
- She had a brain tumor over 15 years ago and she needed to learn how to sit, walk, and move all over again which took her over a year.
- The brain tumor removal resulted in her having nerve sensation limitations in her lower legs/feet AND she has chronic pain in her legs and back. When she gets up in the morning it takes minimally 45 minutes for her body to start moving “normally” because she is so tight and has pain.
- She exercises and stretches everyday so she can function.
- Her motto for aches, pains, injuries is “NO BIG DEAL.”
When I describe her medical history and share her story with people, many wonder how a woman using a walker or cane can ski. Well, she is completely independent and VERY active. She water skis, kayaks, walks the Superior Hiking Trail with her dog, plays tennis, does all her yardwork, etc. However, she falls monthly because she can’t feel her feet and catches her toes often. Falling is “no big deal” to her even if the falls result in cuts, bruised ribs, etc. She just keeps pushing forward because doing what she loves is more important.
When we started exercising again, I was concentrating more on her overall balance and function because she was struggling with many of the “basics” than thinking about her sport conditioning. Then out of the blue she said that the WWMG was happening in January 2020 and she was considering going IF she can get into race form. What a GOAL! I do not ski and I knew nothing about the muscles/technique required to ski. I needed to devise a program that would work on day-to-day function AND skiing and I had a time crunch.
Lilla taught me a lot during our partnership and I am now a better physical therapist. I never limit older adults as I know they are tough, but I had to research appropriate exercises in order to keep challenging her. I started with investigating what elite skiers do for exercise and put Lilla to work. We incorporated strength, agility, balance, and endurance with emphasis on body awareness to help with reduced sensation in her lower body.
“I ski race all over America, Canada, Europe & Scandinavia. She worked diligently with me this last year so I could compete in the Masters Olympics in Austria. I won gold in slalom and bronze in the other races. I race Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom. My physical therapist is brilliant in her knowledge of what the needs are and what works for all ages and physical types. She is creative in her application of what exercises are necessary to reach the desired results. I highly recommend TandemSB to anyone of any age who wants to strengthen & fine tune their bodies to accomplish their goals.” – Lilla