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Chronic Pain To A Nine-And-A-Half-Hour Guinness World Record Plank: Dan Scali

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Chronic Pain To A Nine-And-A-Half-Hour Guinness World Record Plank: Dan Scali

Cutting ourselves, spraining your ankle, pulling a muscle, and other accidental incidents often put us in great pain.

But the thing with these minor inconveniences is that they take place, you heal and move on, not for Daniel Scali though. The boys speak to Dan Scali, a gym enthusiast who’s recently earned himself a spot in the Guinness World Records for the longest abdominal plank (a staggering nine hours and 30 minutes, if you’re wondering) – all while suffering from Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

The podcast highlights everything Dan went through to prep, some background on this condition, and teaches a thing or two about determination.

Life with CRPS

At the age of 12, a casual day being spent on the trampoline changed Dan’s life as he knew it. Falling from the trampoline initially resulted in a broken left arm but when things didn’t seem to change for the better, Daniel knew something was wrong.

“I had a pretty severe break to my left arm that completely snapped both bones. It seemed like a normal break for a teenager - went to the hospital, got that band on. I’d just be in constant pain, the first month was healing pain, the second month my hands were swollen, my fingers were too, and I couldn’t move it at all. Any time I tried moving my finger it would send flare-ups. We went to the hospital and they weren’t too sure about why it was happening; I’d be screaming in pain and agony. That put me in hospital for 4-6 months,” he says.

Daniel continues, “This happened 17 years ago, and they’ve since formally diagnosed me with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. It was rare and not many studies had been conducted at the time. What they did know was, my brain was sending wrong signals to my left arm. To grasp that in the beginning, was very hard.”

The best way to describe the pain, he explains, would be to hold a lighter under your arm, feel the burning sensation not just on one spot, but all over the arm. Moving the arm trying to cool it down won’t do much either since that inflicts more pain so all that’s possible is to keep your arm still, hold your breath, keep tight to prevent it from flaring up – all while you internally scream at yourself.

That being said, Dan still didn’t allow his condition to come in the way of a profession that had interested him ever since he was a little boy. Working as a mechanic in his family-run business, the boys were fairly intrigued to know how he worked around his chronic pain, given the fact that it’s a hands-on profession. “It’s a family business so I was always interested in it and was always fascinated by cars as well. Being diagnosed with this condition in the beginning did concern me a little and I’d always think, ‘Can I do it?’, I was a little worried. I wouldn’t be here without my family, with their help I was able to train and understand how things work, and as soon as I got my qualification I went into the office. I’m not hands-on essentially, but I understand enough to explain to clients what’s going on. And with any sort of hands-on stuff, I either have to push it onto my right hand or I have to get someone else to do it,” he shares.

Initial idea

To think of achieving something as wild as this while also being diagnosed with chronic pain requires a bit of a twisted mind. But the idea actually came to him during a relaxing evening being spent with friends in the midst of a home training session.

Scali says, “It was around COVID time last year, we were having a little home training with friends and at the end of the session, we thought, ‘let’s finish off with a plank,’ as you would do at the end of a session. At the end of the two-minute plank, we started counting down the last 10 seconds because everyone was just shaking at the point. It got me thinking, the pressure I put on my arm did cause my arm to flare up, but it took me away from the CRPS pain. And yeah, from November 2020, a couple of weeks later I did another one which went to five minutes, and eventually it went to 30 minutes.”

“January 2021, I decided to break the world record.”


Physical and mental preparation

A challenge like this one requires plenty of physical and mental strength, and extensive preparation. From hiring a mind coach, to planking for hours as soon as he returned from work, waking up early in the morning to train – this man did it all.

“I incorporated a mind coach because I knew it would be tough mentally as well, I reached out to a few other trainers to see how I could condition my muscles and people thought I was crazy. So, I was on my own and had to really think of what I could potentially do and what muscles I needed to work on to keep my strength up. I started in January 2021 and I’d planked for 45 minutes then, by May I reached eight hours 17 minutes,” he shares. Mind you, the previous world record was set at eight hours and 15 minutes, Scali had surpassed the same during his preparation phase.

“My focus what entirely on the plank even though I was still working my full-time job. I’d be getting up at 4:54 and doing 100 push-ups and sit-ups, then I’d do my 45-minute circuit at the gym, come home and do a 20-minute run. By then it would be about 6:50 am, I’d do some more sit-ups and push-ups, a small plank, take a shower and go to work. At work, I’d another plank at lunch, then come home at five and then be planking till 10pm,” he adds.

What helped him power through the pain and struggle was visualisation – specifically, visualising his end goal. “I knew from the start that my goal wasn’t eight hours and 15 minutes, it was to complete nine hours. I never changed my goals,” Dan reveals.

The finale

Almost six months of training went into being able to compete to be the next record holder, little did he know he’d be hit with an unpleasant surprise at the end of it.

The Guinness World Records, a franchise that’s recognised globally, has a list of rules and regulations as well as conditions that will allow you to run this race. Due to COVID-19, the Guinness World Records team was unable to be present at the time of Scali’s attempt, but they did manage to send across a list of people he’d require for his attempt to be considered. “They asked for six independent witnesses, two timekeepers, and one judge - I had to pick the witnesses but they could not be affiliated with me. They had to fill out forms on the day, and then they just had to watch me and take notes of what happened like if my mind coach wiped my face down, they'd have to note it down like: ‘Two hours in, Daniel’s face got wiped down’. There were also three cameras set up when in the front, one on the side and one guy would move around recording me with the third from time to time.”

Daniel set the record for the longest abdominal plank on August 6, that however, was his second attempt. Two months prior to that, he had attempted and succeeded in achieving his goal, only to be disqualified for planking incorrectly.

“I went through the record on June 16th as well, we were completely prepared, six witnesses, two time-keepers, one judge. I hit nine hours and nine minutes, only for them to come back and say they weren’t happy with how my hips were, so they disqualified me," he explains. "The email literally read, ‘Daniel Scali, we are so sorry, but we'll have to disqualify you because your hips weren’t right’. I remember I saw the notification and my heart dropped but I said I wouldn’t open the mail, then I did open it, read it, and kept my phone back - it was heart-wrenching. That was a Thursday night and by Saturday I was planking again.”

“I was training for six months thinking I knew what a plank was, but they told me my plank was accepted in the greater gym community but not the Guinness World Record form. I had a month to lower my hips as low as I could, so my second attempt was just so much harder."

Putting months of hard work to waste due to a disqualification was not an option for Daniel. From doing a five-minute plank in November 2020 to then achieving a nine and a half hour world record in August 2021, shows great resilience, determination, and unwavering faith in the goals he’d set for himself.

Listen below, or on Spotify.




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