Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Miracle Worker

You either know him as the great healer or you think he's a charlatan. For me, Lino has proven on numerous occasions to be a miracle worker, and I only trust his healing hands when I have a nagging ache or pain to resolve. The thing I value most about Lino's unconventional approach to healing is his ability to pinpoint the root cause of the problem or at least give you a fantastic story to tell post-appointment.

My first visit to Lino was about 4 years ago, and it hooked me. I walked in with what my Google diagnosis revealed to be plantar fasciitis, in both feet. The heels of both of my feet were in great pain. I had gone through numerous pairs of shoes, Superfeet, heal lifts and cases of Tiger Balm all with no relief. I was starting to think I was not made to be a runner and should just give up. I had also gone to see my Kaiser doctor. He told me that I needed to stop running and biking for 30 days and take 3200 mg of ibuprofen every day. I could then start up running again, but if the pain returned, he would shoot cortisone into both feet. I ran out the door of the clinic completely scared, pulled out Lino's card that had been given to me by a Fleet Feet employee after changing out my 3rd pair of perfectly functional shoes, and made an appointment.

I walked in to Lino's torture den, and he asked me what the issue was. I told him about how my feet hurt and how I thought I had plantar fasciitis. I told him about all of the shoes I had tried and the insoles, etc. He said, "the problem's not in your feet." He explained that I was walking like a man. I had no action in my hips. He then asked if I had been sitting on an airplane or in a car for extended periods recently. I had actually driven to Southern California for military duty the week before and went on to drive to Death Valley in a day from there to catch the spectacular wildflower display. I thought, "Wow, this guy is good."

Then, he started a line of questioning about my reproductive cycles--did I have female issues? I did. I was intrigued. What in the world could my ovarian cysts have to do with my feet? He explained that having the pain in both feet was what tipped him off. It's a little sketchy in my brain now, but he said something to the effect that my cysts were somehow changing the elasticity in my hips (making them tighten up) and this changed my stride leaving my heels to take the brunt of the load and hurt. Sitting in a car for such a long time further exacerbated the problem by causing my hips to become even tighter.

If you've been to see Lino, you know what comes next. He manhandles you to the point where you feel as though your leg will snap off causing you to either scream out in pain or break down crying. He worked on my hips for three visits. The pain got worse after the first visit, and his response was, "Good!" Then, he tortured me some more. All the while, he kept on telling me to keep running. My Kaiser Doc had said my tendons would snap if I kept running. Lino gave me hope. After my 3rd visit, I graduated, and he told me to go out and run like normal. Lino had not only "cured" me, but he gave me a sense of confidence that I could train hard and there was someone out there to fix me if I broke.

Fast forward to 4 years later, and Lino still inspires that confidence in me. I have never been injured to a point where I had to take time off from my hard training. Lino has played a part in that. I think the last time I saw him was in August 2007 when I was having hip issues and he bent me back into shape.

After the Buffalo Stampede Sunday and my painful 10-mile cool down, I was limping. My right calf had tightened up and was on fire. I used the TP Massageballer to roll the crud out of it that night, iced it for an hour and wore my compression socks to bed (attractive, I know). While my calf felt better the next morning, I could still feel it biting with every step. I had an easy 6 miler or a rest day scheduled, so I decided to go with the rest day to give my legs a break. The biting in my calf persisted last night. I decided not to roll it, thinking that maybe that was aggravating it. I consulted my coach, and she assured me that I was doing the right thing. She explained that any little niggle at this point in the game needed to be taken very seriously.

I have to say I started to freak out. Here I am, on the eve of my big marathon, being sidelined by stupid calf pain. Moreover, the cause was a little munchkin that veered in front of me during the Great Train Run causing me to step wrong and twist my left ankle. I had seen Lino enough to diagnose that I was compensating after that incident which changed my stride and caused the right calf to become irritated.

He gave me a nod today, when I offered up this theory, saying that could easily be the cause. Once again, the problem was not in my calf, it was in my hip, confirmed with a quick check of my hip flexibility. He pushed down on my pelvic region in a number of spots until he found just the right place to push and then released just before I was about to scream. He then did a quick check of my hip flexibility, and confirmed that I was back to normal. He then started cranking on my foot. When I asked what the problem was there, he simply said that my foot had become really tight from running with the tight hip. Basically, my hip wasn't extending enough during the push-off phase and this affected how my foot was contacting the ground and was putting strain on my calf muscle. So, once again, the problem was not in the place where the pain was occurring. My calf pain was a symptom. Brilliant.

I got a few excruciating Lino pushes on the calf, followed by a session of the jumpy machine (muscle stimulator), a lesson in how to stretch the calf and a swift kick out the door with a command to, "go run". Once again, I know that I have the magic healer in my back pocket and am no longer afraid that I will be sidelined for Twin Cities. I plan to run 10 miles tomorrow and will continue on my schedule as planned this week.

Thanks, Lino.


  1. You have given me hope...How can I find this miracle worker?

  2. Lino is perhaps the best all-around fixer I've come across. I've sent people to him from all over the world.

    He's on J street in Sac-town at his business called Kinections.