Friday, July 20, 2012

So, a runner goes to a chiropractor Part I

Many people have differing opinions about chiropractors. I went to one in Manhattan for a massage from the massage therapist, and the doctor in the consult was a QUACK. I was with a friend, and he gave us IDENTICAL diagnosis, word for word. Then, a few weeks later, another friend was detailing her unnerving chiropractic experience and I said, "Is it ________________?" And her eyes widened and said, "YES! UGH! I felt swindled!" This is NOT that kind of experience.

So, let's clarify. I don't run like this:

However, I have been having lower back and neck pain for, well, forever. I've always had neck pain, and TMJ induced headaches; some of which have occasionally turned into migraines. I went to my family chiropractor in CT a couple of times a year, especially on college breaks to undo the damage of dorm beds. Currently, I can't sit in a chair for more than 15-20 minutes before I feel a strong tension in my lower back. Student's chairs are better for me; they're smaller and my feet don't have to reach for the ground! If I sleep on my stomach or at an odd angle, I will have neck pain and an all but guaranteed headache for the next day or two. It's all gotten worse with teaching; stress, carrying heavy bags, all of it.


I finally made the move and went to a chiropractor. It was actually a semi-fluke; I had a groupon for a massage with his massage therapist, and a consult was included. He takes my insurance, so it was like a match made in back pain heaven. 


So, why did this runner have to go to the chiropractor?


My symptoms include:
- Lower Back Pain on both sides (Fancy term: bilaterally)
- Neck Pain
- Hip discomfort and cracking to alleviate
- Range of motion limited, especially in the neck


Results of exams*:
- I have two discs in my lower back out of place (OOPS)
- My neck is seriously out of alignment (Potentially from a car accident when I was 5)
- My hips have weakened as a result for compensating for my uneven alignment.


*Note: This chiropractor did a three part exam. 1. Massage therapist wrote up an exam, and the chiropractor took a written statement concerning my symptoms. 2. I did a range of motion test 3. I had x-rays taken. All of these things were assessed by my chiropractor. He detailed and explained all the results at each step. This was very thorough, unlike the quack from before!


Prescription: 
- 3 times a week for a few weeks
- After initial alignment is coming back, I'll receive exercises to do at home.
- Once alignment is back in place, occasional visits to monitor are recommended.


Today was my first appointment. Apparently, I'm TIGHT! It felt interesting. I felt a bit weird throughout the day, which is normal. Next week will  be my first full three days a week, so we'll see how I feel then. Fortunately, unbeknownst to me, my doctor is a runner. This came out during my second visit. He's done 4 half marathons and a 50k; skipped the marathon altogether! He told me, "Athletes do this alignment stuff regularly because they're at peak performance when all is right in their bodies. You've been operating with this discomfort for so long it's become normal to you." Mind you, when I'm running I experience no pain. It's when I'm sitting still! So I'm hoping to gain more comfort and less headaches during this process.


Do you have aches and pains? I found this article on Natural Cures by Runners World, and it lists some remedies, what they do and who should try them. I'm definitely in the chiropractic category. I'll be updating this series occasionally as I progress; it may be weekly, it may be monthly. 


What do you do with aches and pains? Do you go straight to the doctor? Let it play out? Are you coming back from injury? Tell me about it!!!


106 days until the ING NYC MARATHON!!!


Ps. Thank you for all the sweet comments on my sob fest post! I did a 75 minute hill workout Thursday and kicked BUTT with negative splits. It was the toughest run mentally, but once I finished it I felt as though I crossed a bridge. I run to run.
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