Four years ago, I was beginning to notice the affects that 73 years had rendered on my mind, body, and soul. Since then, I have occasionally thought about closing the door on the Finesse News Network and replacing it with the Geriatric Fishing Network, where we would write and publish stories about how old codgers catch black bass and other species.
But Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, and Exercise Therapy of Kansas City, has kept me from terminating the Finesse News Network.
In fact, since Feb. 14, 2006, when I and my wife, Patty, were in our mid-60s, Perret has helped us ward off many of the ailments that bedevil the geriatric world. He has devised several series of exercises from his Natural Design Therapy System, and we do them every morning, and sometimes twice a day.
These exercises focus upon what Perret describes as our "postural alignment and muscle balance," and they are aimed "to correct any dysfunctional movement or alignment that creates pain." When we are afflicted with pain, he notes, our life styles will shrink so as to limit what our body can do to avoid the pain, and ultimately that shrinking will adversely affect our postural alignment and muscle balance.
Perret was a decathlete at the University of Kansas and was graduated with a bachelor's degree in exercise science in 1998. He thought about getting a master's degree in physical therapy, but ultimately he studied at Pete Egoscue's clinic in San Diego. And before he created his Exercise Therapy of Kansas City and developed his Natural Design Therapy, he worked for Egoscue in San Diego, Stamford, Connecticut, Tampa, Florida, and Overland Park, Kansas. Since 2006, we have written scores of words about Perret's genius at creating pain-free anglers without having to endure the aftereffects of surgery and pharmaceutical pain killers.
But on Nov. 6 and 7, I was nearing my wits end, and I was a long, long way from being a pain-free angler. I was afflicted with such acute pain in my lower back that it was impossible for me to sit at the breakfast table, lunch table, and dinner table with Patty. Even the thought of hitching up the boat trailer, climbing into the boat, and fishing was so ludicrous that it made me feel nauseated and phantom-like radiations and twitches of pain erupted in my back, left knee, right foot, and other parts of my body. It was impossible for me to sit at the computer's keyboard and write about Midwest finesse fishing. Walking was a chore. I can never recall enduring such constant and severe pain. In the midst of that quagmire, I thought that old age had arrived, and it was so severe that even the Geriatric Fishing Network was beyond my abilities to launch. In fact, I never wanted to fish again.
The genesis of this bout with pain began on Sept. 25, which was when I hurt my left knee while I was running in a pasture on the outskirts of Salina, Kansas. And from Sept. 27 to Nov. 3, I nursed the knee by doing a series of Egoscue and Natural Design Therapy System exercises for knee pains. During this spell, the big toe on my right foot began to hurt, which provoked me to do a series of exercises for foot pains. Then on Nov. 3 when I was fishing with Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, twitches of pain began to erupt on the right side of my lower back, and that pain was paralleled by pain in my left knee and my big right toe.
Immediately after arriving at home from that Nov.3 outing, I began doing Egoscue and Natural Design Therapy System exercises for back pain. And for three days, those exercises helped to ameliorate some of the pain. But during the afternoon of Nov. 6, I wacked my forehead on our partially opened garage door, which caused me to fall, and as I fell I wreak havoc with my lower back.
At 9:00 a.m. on Nov. 7, I telephoned Perret, and he told me to come to his office at 11:00 a.m. on Nov. 8. Throughout much of Nov. 7, I did series after series of exercises for relieving back pain, and they helped alleviate about 50 percent of the extremely intense pain.
When several acquaintances heard about my woes, they thought that I should take some pain medication, and one said that if I took four Advil everything would be hunky-dory. But I never take pain medications. Instead I have been relying on Perret to keep me pain and drug free. In fact, his exercises can conquer dizziness, sinus headaches, tension headaches, and even migraines.
When I arrived at Perret's office, he photographed and examined my posture via a plumb line. He also watched me walk. Straightaway, he noticed that my hips were not level, and my upper body was also slightly out of alignment. He noted that the spot or point of the pain is not the source of the pain, and from what he called an educated guess, he suspected that the malfunctioning of my hips, coupled with the misalignment of my upper body, was the source of my back pain. He said by putting my hips in what he called a better environment, I will be walking and moving better, which will eventually tame the pain in my lower back.
To accomplish this task, he created a series of 10 exercises, and it takes me about 30 minutes to do them. But the one called hooklying arm glides and another one called child's pose are excruciatingly difficult for my old muscles and joints to execute.
While I was in his office, I did the 10 exercises. He watched me, counseled me, and corrected the way I did them. By the time I had completed the tenth exercise and had walked around the room several times, the pain had diminished measurably. And when I arrived in Lawrence at 1:00 p.m., I was pain-free enough to hitch up the boat trailer, and I went smallmouth bass fishing at a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir for 90 minutes. During that spell, several twitches of pain erupted periodically, but they were not severe.
By 6:15 a.m. on Nov. 10, I had done the new series of exercises seven times, and I spent an hour raking leaves on Nov 9. As I am sitting at the computer's keyboard at 7:53 a.m. on Nov. 10 and writing these words, the pain in my lower back is slightly more intense than it was immediately before I worked with Perret on Nov. 8. But it is much better than it was on Nov. 7. The pains in my right toe and left knee are abating.
Perret says some folks can become pain-free in a day or two, but for others it might take several days, several weeks, or several months, and some patients might need several different series of exercises. There will also be times after he fixes a patient's pain that a new pain will erupt elsewhere, which is the byproduct of getting the body properly aligned and its many parts functioning properly. (For example, after our first undertakings on Feb. 14, 2006, it took Perret several years to get me pain free, and when a new pain would occasionally erupt, he ultimately found a solution for it.) In other words, it can take a significant amount of work and patience to become pain free, but in the long run, it is more effective than surgery and drug therapy.
Patty and I have a goodly number of friends, acquaintances, and family members who have had hip and knee replacements, as well as back, shoulder, elbow and wrist surgeries. Because of an automobile accident that we had in 1989, which killed my father and shattered Patty's left shoulder, broke her left arm and wrist, and broke the tibia and fibia in her right leg, a surgeon suggested that she should allow him to replace her shoulder with a prostesis. In his words, he could "make it almost as good as new," but contrary to his designs and hopes, as well as many months of physical therapy, her left shoulder and arm are far from being almost as good as new. The surgeon could never understand why it happened, and he suggested that she allow him to do it again. She said no.
From our perspectives, back, shoulder, elbow and wrist surgeries have almost become a fad. For instance, one of Pat's acquaintances told her that he and his wife have had five hip and four knee replacements, and he said that they expected that another replacement might be in the offing.
When our friends have endured the grueling aspects of the surgery and weeks or even months of physical therapy sessions, some of them are still bothered with pain and use a variety of pharmaceutical products to dull it.
What's more, we have noticed that surgery did not significantly improve many of our acquaintances' sense of well-being and nimbleness. We have also read several reports about failures of artificial hip implants that cost billions of dollars to fix. Therefore, we have never been able to understand why anyone would opt for surgery.
So, we rely and will continue to rely on Perret to keep us relatively pain free and nimble, as well as to help to keep the Finesse News Network afloat for a while longer and to keep Patty playing tennis.
(1) Besides his work at the Exercise Therapy of Kansas City and Natural Design Therapy, he is writing a book about Natural Design Therapy, which will be published early in 2017. For a number of years, he was the social media advisor for several anglers who competed on professional bass fishing circuits, which he no longer does. During the summer of 2016, he began focusing his attention on the Trophy Bass Company and its website: http://www.trophybasscompany.com/.
At the Trophy Bass Company, he works with Casey Scanlon, who is a guide at the Lake of the Ozarks and a competitor in the Bassmaster Elite Series, as well as other tournament circuits. To fund the website, they are selling two jigs that Scanlon designed, as well as fishing apparel.
One of the jigs is the Trophy Pro Jig. It is made in three sizes: 1/2-, 5/8-, and 3/4-ounce. It has a Gamakatsu 5/0 heavy-wire hook, a wire bait keeper, and an extra collar for adding rattles. Its head has a stand-up-on-the-bottom design, and its flat bottom facilitates skipping it under docks and overhanging trees. Its narrow shoulders and round nose allows it to penetrate thick and tight objects without becoming snagged. It is dressed with a skirt, and there are 11 color combinations of skirts. It sells for $4.99. The power anglers in Missouri and Kansas who began using it this fall says it is the best flipping, pitching , skipping and dragging jig that they ever used.
The second jig is the Trophy Swim Jig. It is made in two sizes: 1/4- and 3/8-ounce. It has a wire bait keeper to keep the trailer solidly affixed to the jig. It possesses a narrow head and a vertical line tie to facilitate swimming it through thick aquatic vegetation and flooded terrestrial vegetation. It has a 5/0 Mustad heavy-wire hook. It is adorned with a skirt, and there are seven color combinations of skirts. It sells for $4.99.
He is also an occasional contributor to the Finesse News Network and several other piscatorial publications.
(2) We have written thousands of words about how Perret has helped anglers to become pain free. Here are links to many of those words:
(3) Anglers can contact Perret at 913-424-9354 and examine his websites at http://www.felixfishing.com/ and http://exercisetherapykc.com.