I'm a newbie at attending the LBG Medical Biomechanics Summer School. In its 25 years, I've never been until this one! (This, for a serial conference attendee like me, is quite an admission!)
As a primarily general podiatrist (who doesn't do much musculoskeletal work) you might ask what made this one so attractive to me?
Well I don't know about you, but I am finding more and more people coming to see me about their musculoskeletal issues, and I felt frustrated that I hadn't put in the hours and time to ensure I had the answers to their problems.
Sure, I've got some great pod friends; Nick Knight, Tim Veysey Smith, Dave James, & Ian Griffiths, all of whom are much stronger than me in musculoskeletal areas and who have helped me with my MSK cases in recent months.
But really it was time I stepped up to the MSK plate so when Nick Knight told me he was going, he advised me that if I wanted to up my musculoskeletal game, I should attend too, that was it!
Then I looked at the speaker list. With a line-up of two professors:
Professor Benno Nigg; demigod of biomechanics and human locomotion study
Professor Peter Brukner, an expert in sports performance & nutrition, formerly a sports physician to the Australian cricket team, Liverpool Football Club and other elite athletes
And, I knew we were in for a treat before I even looked at the podiatry input of;
Simon Bartold, who I knew would have exciting things to say about the revolutionary Salomon Predict running shoe!
Dr. Kevin Kirby, who's a hero in my eyes for his YouTube video on Verruca needling, never mind his exhaustive biomechanics knowledge.
Emma Cowley who works tirelessly, dragging us all kicking and screaming into using repeatable, reliable, measurable parameters and gathering data on our outcomes.
Trevor Prior, who could be talking about the telephone directory and he would find a way to make it educational and funny.
I simply had to be there!
Not knowing what to expect I was immediately impressed by the quality of the welcome and delegate pack. Inside the canvas satchel; a ring binder containing the program and the accompanying lecture notes already pre-printed out, some great freebies including a set of orthotics, (sweets, don't tell Prof Brukner) and a quality notebook and pen. The attention to detail even included a name badge inside the bag in case people misplaced them.
The Venue of the Manchester Victoria & Albert Marriott hotel was an ideal one for me, being only a half hour train journey away. However, other people had come from far and wide, as far as Shetland and beyond; many were returning delegates who clearly knew the value of this high-quality event.
Day one morning
The speakers didn't disappoint, opening with a 25 year nostalgia trip of pictures through the ages of summer school with Dr Kevin Kirby, sharing his entertaining anecdotes along the way giving us a thoroughly joyous start to the day.
Prof Brukner then brought us down to earth talking about why we're getting fatter and sicker. He also discussed what we are going to do about it with the rising tidal wave of the ‘Diabesity epidemic’ and how podiatrists can positively influence lifestyle change to combat this scary statistic. This really resonated with me as a generalist podiatrist because it's an area I know I can have an impact on by doing some motivational interviewing with my patients. The next day he moved on to speak about inflammation, chronic disease and the role of diet in mediating inflammation. Thought-provoking stuff, especially his story of the cricketer with chronic knee pain who had lots of medical treatment and whose condition resolved with diet/nutrition intervention enabling him to play competitively again. Indeed Peter’s own chronic Achilles tendinopathy resolved after he started following the low carb higher fat diet.
Then we had Prof Nigg speaking about how the body works to minimise vibration impact through muscle tuning. His fascinating talk covered his work with Cirque du Soleil to unravel the mystery of the 25% increase in injury that they had encountered after changing the properties of their performance stage surface. On day 2 he moved onto talking about pronation, how we measure it, all the variables involved in it and literally “throwing a hand grenade into the biomechanics bunker” to quote Simon Bartolds take on it.
Following the two professors then, it was absolutely no challenge whatsoever for Trevor Prior to be the next to take the stage, discussing plantar heel pain and evidence-based treatments.
Fourth up was the mesmerising sports footwear legend; Simon Bartold; speaking about how athletic footwear as we know it is dead and how the rise of the “Machines” will enable bespoke footwear with inbuilt orthoses to be a commonplace reality within the next decade.
Emma Cowley had the graveyard shift of the morning to explain about gait analysis in the clinic; the parameters we need to know and how to measure them. I found her slide on SOAPIER and reverse engineering the assessment an interesting concept.
Day one afternoon
If you've been to summer school before you'll know that the afternoon session of day 1 comprises a series of fabulous workshops, each held with one of the keynote speakers so you can focus on a key topic close to their hearts, here's what they covered:
Prof Brukner How podiatrist can influence lifestyle and therefore health
Simon Bartold Dynamic athlete assessment and why it matters
Emma Cowley & Trevor Prior Gait analysis (with Nick Knight in his shorts, on the treadmill hooked up to a load of data capturing equipment!)
Dr. Kevin Kirby Easy and quick tissue stress foot orthoses modifications for the office (The king of semi compressed felt was in his element!)
I absolutely loved the afternoon session and it brought me immense value, but the great experience didn't stop there for after that we had 2 1/2 hours to prepare for that evening’s gala dinner which was exceptionally good. Drinks reception, lovely food, wine, live jazz music, dance floor, DJ and a photo booth with props, to boot. A good time was had by all until the wee hours of the morning, I left them to it at 1:30am as wanted to get the most out of the next day’s set of lectures. Lucky for me I'm good on 5 hours sleep!
The focus for day two was a little different than day one. Whilst we did have three main lectures; one each from both professors and another from Dr. Kevin Kirby on understanding the biomechanics and treatment of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, there were 3 interactive sessions of panel discussion or debate on things like:
● The state of the nation with running footwear
● Foot orthoses research current problems and future directions;
● Running biomechanics and common injuries.
● Top tips and summary for clinical practice
All in all it was a fabulous 2 days I'm so glad I went to this 25th edition of the LBG Medical Biomechanics Summer School. I can't think when there will be another opportunity to see all these keynote speakers in the same room again in my lifetime, and I feel privileged to have been there.
Not only that, I was extremely impressed by the quality of the organisation of the event, the resources around it, the attention to detail in making sure that everybody had what they needed and had a good time. Above all else (as it's one of the things I love to do) we had lots of opportunities to engage with each other, meeting our Facebook colleagues and putting faces to those names. I feel that LBG Medical got the balance absolutely perfectly right, well they did for me anyway!