Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No Pain, No Game?

No Pain, No Gain? 

We’ve all heard the famous words intended to push us to our limits when competing in a sports event. For runners, challenges are everywhere and the sweet feeling of victory, not just against others but against themselves, inspires them to go that extra mile, quite literally. 

Most runners, when training, are battling endurance, time, and fitness limits to constantly improve on far or fast they can run. But what would happen to a runner who did not feel pain? Did not get that common resistance from their body telling them to stop, known in running terminology as “Runner’s Wall”? What may happen is an unexpected advantage.

Meet Kayla Montgomery, an 18 year old high school athlete with multiple sclerosis. For those that are not familiar, multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that works to slow the body down, blocking nerve signals to the brain. Many people with this illness end up being confined to a wheelchair, having difficulty with their body movements. Montgomery is an exception.

Defying natural odds, she has chosen to not only continue running, as exercise is recommended for those diagnosed with MS, but to use this illness to her advantage. When Kayla is running, like others inflicted with MS, signals from her muscles are being blocked from reaching her brain – signals telling her she is tired and needs to slow down. What happens, instead, is that she can increase her speed, and continue running longer and faster than other runners. 

Basically, while her competition is getting signals to slow down, Montgomery is not. Without the pain from her nerve signals, she is able to gain a competitive advantage. However, once she finishes a race, she collapses.

Beating all the odds, this unlikely athlete has taken a golden nugget out of an otherwise debilitating illness. She is an inspiration to us all.

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