TRUE STORY: OLYMPIc CYCLIST, GIDDEON MASSIE, SHARES HIS JOURNEY ON CONQUERING BACK PAIN TO GET BACK TO HIS COMPETITIVE & ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
The first symptom I experienced was a laser sharp pain just above the side of my left glute whenever I would bend my torso, even slightly to the left. Shortly following, I woke up one morning with “drop foot”, or the inability to dorsiflex (bend) my left foot. A motor skill we take for granted when walking and especially for me when racing my bicycle. It is often the smallest health benefits we take for granted until they are hampered or we lose them all together. My symptoms left me questioning my future abilities to perform at the elite level of my sport not to mention the Beijing Olympics were quickly approaching.
Forced recovery is never an easy thing to accept as a professional athlete especially with uncertainty looming at the forefront. My symptoms continued to a lesser or greater degree for months. Any type of prolonged walking and even the smallest amount of running would be enough to irritate the nerve in my back and worsen the dorsiflexion leaving me significantly inhibited on the bike and other activities. In an effort to resolve my symptoms I began multiple visits a week with chiropractors as well as two epidurals in a 3-4 month period. They helped, but only masked my symptoms. With lingering symptoms and my inability to perform at my full potential, it was my strength and conditioning coach, John Schaeffer of Winning Factor who finally suggested seeking a more comprehensive examination. I chose Virginia Spine Institute because I knew I would receive the best spinal health care possible. Dr. Schuler and Dr. Subach set me at ease right away. I liked the prospect of two expert spine surgeons working together, and given their combined experience in treating athletes at all levels, I knew that I was in very capable hands. Although I was not thrilled about the need for spine surgery, they made me feel confident that my outcome would be successful. I was impressed with how simple and uncomplicated the process was. I was back to competitive cycling four weeks later, competed at the National Championships at eleven weeks, winning two more national titles, and competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Since then, I’ve continued to compete on the national and international scene winning multiple titles and setting new personal bests. The end of September 2012, I won my 19th and 20th career national titles. My advice for anyone suffering from back and/or neck pain is to speak with the folks at VSI! Very few people jump at the suggestion of back surgery and it may not even be the answer for you. But it is important to know what your options are and that you do not have to live in pain, discomfort and the fear of not being able to live the normal or active lifestyle you enjoyed in past. As a professional athlete we often want the quick fix or solution. Dr. Schuler and Dr. Subach along with the knowledgeable and professional staff at VSI sat down with my coaches and parents multiple times to discuss possible solutions. We all agreed that surgery was the best and correct procedure for my injury and would get me back to performing at my highest level. I am forever grateful for their commitment to seeing people live healthy and active lives without the fear of living in the past.
Feeling inspired? Follow Giddeon on Twitter! 04′ 08′ Olympian
Thank you to my team!
- Dr. Schuler - Spinal Specialist