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Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, DC, CCFC

Sports Injury Specialist

The Orthotic Doctor

Scott Tinley and Dr. Paul Copeskey - 2013

Pleasures of The Golden Years

Prevention Over Pounding for Ironman Scott Tinley

Dan Beeson Sports Editor,  1989 North County Times, San Diego

Prevention Over Pounding for Ironman Scott Tinley

Del Mar- responding while on the adjusting table of La Jolla based chiropractor, Dr. Paul Copeskey, world class triathlete Scott Tinley recites his rigorous travel schedule. Backwards and forward.  "Portsmouth, England.  I finished third," says the Del Mar resident of a triathlon he did last weekend.  "The week before that I competed in an Ironman in Canada finishing third.  That's probably a bit too much in a seven-day period."  Sunday its to Nashville for another triathlon.  September 23rd the Bud Lite Triathlon comes to Solana Beach.  October 6th another Ironman.  This is the big one in Hawaii.  And so it goes...

Copeskey, an Encinitas resident who attended San Diego State University with Tinley in the late 70's doesn't have time to marvel at the tireless athlete that lay before him.  "How's the hamstring been acting?" Copeskey asks, while thrusting his palms into the small of Tinley's back.  "Better" is the succinct reply.  

"People who are active, like all of us, will always have structural problems," explains Copeskey, while flip-flopping Tinley.  "But if not 

Scott Tinley and Dr. Paul Copeskey - 1989

treated, those problems can be magnified for a guy as active as Scott is."  Calling Scott Tinley active is far too simple. Four hundred miles of bicycling, 60 to 70 miles of running and 15 more in the water is merely another week at the office for the Orange County native.  He routinely does 18 to 20 triathlons per year on top of his four Ironman competitions.  

No pain, no gain?  You can stop after "no pain."   If it's not broke, don't fix it?  Tinley's svelte body has rarely been broken, or needed fixing, for that matter.  But he knows that at his age of 33 he is, at best, considered middle age in the flourishing world of triathlon.  How much longer he can hold on to his current distinction of being among the top 5 triathletes in the world is anyone's guess.  "I like to think I still have a few good years left,"  is a modest response to the inevitable "how much longer?" question.   At least five years at his current pace, "maybe 10" predicts Copeskey.  "Scott will still be running triathlons strong at the age of 50."  Especially if he continues to replace pounding with prevention, or as Copeskey calls it, "getting a tuneup."

"What a lot of people don't realize is that body imbalances are unavoidable," said Copeskey, who has also worked on such sports figures as Don Sutton, Ivan Lendl, Jack Nicklaus and Robin Yount among others.  "Virtually everyone has one leg longer than the other, or something comparable to that, which creates a structural imbalance that will eventually show up."  That's where prevention enters the picture.  While body imbalances might be unavoidable, keeping them from creating a significant toll on the body is imperative, which is precisely why Tinley pays a visit to his good doctor at least once a week.  

"Scott's right leg is about five millimeters shorter than his left.  Once I find out which leg is longer it's my job to correct the alignment by working on the lower back and between the shoulder blades to improve his posture," says Copeskey.  To help offset Tinley's structural imbalance, Copeskey has designed custom made orthotics with a correction for his shorter leg,  ultra-light objects which Tinley inserts in his running and cycling shoes while training and competing.  The orthotics enable Tinley to put the same amount of physical stress on both legs, thereby minimizing further imbalances and reducing the need for more regular therapy by some 50 to 60 percent, according to Copeskey.  

Tinley, who has been a professional triathlete since 1983, has seen his time steadily improve since seeing Copeskey an average of three to ten times a month during the past 18 month period.  A typical session will take roughly 30 minutes on the table.  But Tinley attributes much of his success to the crash course education from Dr. Paul he's gotten in the process.  "If you're going to take this (triathlon) up, you really need to know the body structure and importance of flexibility inside-out." said Tinley.  "That's where Dr. Paul has helped me tremendously.  I sure wish I would have realized this earlier in life.  I train much smarter now that I know how my muscles are functioning and why.  Hey, I've got to.  I'm going against guys 19 and 20 years old who have more flexibility and more natural speed than me."  "I feel like I'm improving steadily every year, but the young guys that I'm up against are improving at a faster rate than I am.  At this point it's important that I keep the normal little problems, like aches and pains, from becoming big problems.  I guess you could say I'm listening to my body more now than I used to"

Scott Tinley retired in 1999, ten years after this article was written...

I started 2013 with a terrific 5K race experience in what I initially thought would be just a small local event for the Palm Desert Charter Middle School's Science Department with a few hundred 12-14 year olds and their parents.  At the starting line I chatted with a fit and friendly 68 year old British bloke.  We realized we had both been in Hawaii almost 30 years ago when he was competing in the Ironman Race and I was there treating 2-time Ironman Champion and long-time friend from San Diego State University, Scott Tinley and others.  He asked me, "Did you know Scott was at this 5K race today?"  I thought this guy's a little looney, too many endurance events.  To my chagrin, Scott was definitely there!  It turned out his wife,Virginia, went to this middle school and they were there in support of the event.  Small, Small World!  I got 2nd in my age group - 22:16.  Guess who was 3rd?  It looks like the tortoise passed the hare!  Glad I was able to support Virginia's Alma mater.  Great healthy post-race food!  By the way, the 10 year older Brit beat both Scott and Me.

I have been running on a treadmill recently at race pace and it definitely helped!  The ability to run this way forces you to remain focused on technique and to maintain a fast cadence, which can be difficult to duplicate when leisure running.  Even though I've always been an outdoor runner, the forgiving surface of a treadmill, combined with an escape from nature's weather challenges, offers a terrific alternative.  See you on the treadmill!  I look forward to helping this terrific 5K event grow.

Keep Running!

Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, D.C., C.C.F.C.

February 2013