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Ride 2 Walk

By Hayley Leake Pain awareness 12 Aug 2016

Sometimes I ride my bike to work, and I feel pretty proud of myself. Its only 3km but it’s something. There’s even a little hill. So when I watched the road cycling at the Rio Olympics, about 240km, I was pretty impressed. Such an amazing feat of endurance. But I was completely awed when we found out that one of our US NOI faculty, Bob Johnson, was cycling 2092 km (1300 miles) solo around Lake Superior to raise awareness for Operation Walk. That’s the same as me riding my bike to work every day, including weekends and Christmas, for 2 years! (unlikely)


Movement is medicine

So who is this valiant fellow? Robert ‘Bob’ Johnson is an American physical therapist, pain education extraordinaire, long-time friend and faculty of NOI. Recently he’s triumphantly recovered from a heart attack in late 2012 and cancer in late 2015. Now he’s putting his words into action, practicing his mantra ‘Movement is the Medicine’. He’s donned his bike with everything he’ll need (wine cooler included) and has already embarked on this impressive feat.


Operation Walk

About 1 in 7 adults have symptomatic hip or knee arthritis. Quite literally a condition that stops you in your tracks and can render a person unable to walk. Not surprisingly, we see this more in areas with lower socioeconomic status, considering many people work in labour intensive jobs. While the health need is obviously high, access is low. Total joint replacements, are an expensive, resource intensive operation, requiring skilled surgical teams and facilities. As a result, they are rare in many of these communities. Operation Walk is a charitable non-profit organization that provide these much needed joint replacement surgeries to disadvantaged people worldwide. In addition, they also educate, to transfer this technology and skill to local providers so that they can continue this work long after Operation Walk projects are completed.



Powder down under

Bob has been a lead physical therapist and Operation Walk team member since their inaugural mission in 2005. He’s staffed 8 Operation Walks including China, Ecuador, India, Nepal and Vietnam, each time providing rehabilitation and education. We chatted with Bob to get an update on his particular journey.

How’s it all going Bob?

“Yesterday I was struggling due to heat, head winds, hills and road conditions. My strategies include pulling over and resting in the shade a while, drink more water, stretching, change my shorts, shirt and socks, powder down below and staying focused on my goal.”

How’s the body holding up?

“Often I get upper limb tingling in all nerve distributions, so I do ALOT of specific/non-specific nerve glides including waves, pushing the clouds away, reaching overhead, push/pulls etc. Helps a lot!”

But Bob, how about your rear?

“My bum is good overall if I powder, and shift right/left as well as stand and unload throughout the day.”

Such a big ride! Are you feeling any pain? 

“It’s there in some form often. I expect some of it so no big deal. I know hurt doesn’t equal harm and that I’m sore but safe. Those are intuitive mantras. As well, my goals and beliefs/expectations keep me focused in a positive direction. Just like the patients we have treated all over the world with Operation Walk Chicago.”



Want to help?  

So we congratulate Bob on his mission and want to let everyone know what a great job he’s doing. It’s also his 60th birthday during this ride – so Happy Birthday!! If you want to learn more or support Bob head to this link.


– Hayley Leake & David Butler





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