I'm Brent Shaub
Movement Coordinator
Weave your life's tapestry with refined dexterity.

Serena Williams Rolls Ankle with Game Point, Toughs It Out, Loses Match

Working with athletes in acute pain during a match

2019 Apr 26 05:04:22

Veteran player Serena Williams rolled her ankle when one point from winning the quarter finals of the 2019 Australian Open. She chose not to involve any medical professionals, lost six straight games and the match.

Could Feldenkrais been helpful in that fateful moment?

Serena chose to 'tough it out' because she 'really hates calling the trainer'. Not every player seeks treatment when faced with an injury. Would rapport with the practitioner have overcome this initial hurdle? Perhaps a session that provided benefit would change her belief and lead to embracing care. Note: I don't know her relationship to the trainer, only my own with people who've worked on me.

Once willing to receive, the situation calls for a decision to stay on court or retire to the locker room. Refraining from walking makes sense. Creating a place to lie on her back, in shade, with visual blocks for attire (skirt) are first priorities. Then to remove her shoes, establish eye contact and communicate the feedback desired. I'd want her to not endure pain from my handling, and to spread her attention through the movement chain from foot to spine. If any part of her begins bracing or disassociates, knowing immediately lets me adapt. While I can often pick up on discomfort, my clients always have the option to voice any concerns.

With those groundrules in place, I'd begin with supporting her sore left ankle with her right leg standing, bent at the knee. Rocking on her sacrum left and right examines her hips and spine while her injured foot rests.

A global perspective allows for reference points in areas unaffected by pain. These markers enable sensing any spread or abatement of dysfunction. Connecting to any entire body's tactile net provides anchors from which movement can be safely initiated towards her injury with immediate reversibility.

Working on her foot aims to identify where she can transmit force and bear weight. By going delicately, minutely, repeatedly demonstrating her mastery, her body will hopefully send a somatic 'all clear' signal from the experience.

Resting when in motion reduces anxiety and exertion, though needs a sense of competence in actions likely to be expected. It's important to build complexity gradually during game play. For instance, starting with routine shots and easing into lunging. Gauging can happen over the first rally or a few points.

Inversion and eversion precede lateral propulsion. Weight-bearing details are transmit from all five toes through the arch of their bases, the edges of the feet and the heel to the ankle. Once recognized, clarity and competence alleviate trauma.

While taping can be effective, timing it before the body's signalled 'all clear' only reinforces its initial barricade. The confidence in foot placement and fluidity in the hips to move legs are paramount to compartmentalization following an ankle injury.

The initial movements involving the supportive leg, hips and spine change perspective to a holistic view that includes functional systems. By tying connections into affected areas gradually and creating successes in small steps, complex functions essential to gameplay can emerge. Physical capability keeps one's head in the game, able to focus on strategy and interplay.

The remarkable thing about Feldenkrais is that its principles and solutions address acute and chronic conditions. I've been able to earn back many missing movements nineteen years after a laming roll and resulting gob of scar tissue.

About the author:
Prior to a car collision, Brent played competitive volleyball for his High School team. During practice, he landed on the outside of his left ankle on different occasions with mild pain that went away in minutes.

After the collision, as a university student who hadn't played volleyball for months, changing from coursework to a pick-up game without preparation, Brent landed on the outside of his left ankle and was immediately immobilized. Bruising and swelling surfaced in minutes. Despite using crutches, thick, puffy scar tissue developed and limited mobility for years after the pain faded.

Two decades later, Brent specializes in musculoskeletal precision. He's seen numerous clients since 2013 with issues ranging from breaking a rib from falling off a tractor to a spinal fracture from landing on the supports of a trampoline to neck and wrist strain from computer overuse and many other reversable conditions, big and small, acute and chronic. He practices daily, contining to learn about himself and unravel past shenanigans.

He is presently in Lancaster, PA, USA and welcomes enquiries because his journey is on-going.

Göran Mörkeberg

Göran Mörkeberg FPTP Assistant Trainer

"Brent has a gentle touch that's clear and skeletal at the same time. It gave me an inner picture of the bones in my feet. Afterwards they functioned at a new level. If you ever get a chance to have a lesson, don't miss it!"

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