Chiropractic to the rescue… again.
I’ve been hesitant to write this post due to the possibility of self-jinxing, but it’s time to happily admit that I’ve strung together several days of pain-free running. I lucked out with the timing of this injury, because I’ve been visiting family over the holidays and my aunt happens to be a chiropractor. Not only that, she’s a runner and understands the desire to run high mileage, so I’ve been fortunate to have both wise counsel and a number of chiropractic adjustments in the past ten days.
Here’s what she found:
1. Prior to adjustment, my left leg was functionally two centimeters longer than my right leg, and
2. My left piriformis was “in spasm.”
Fascinating! Well, maybe not to you, but this is my narcissistic corner of the internet, so it’s fascinating to me. And it’s leading me to think about a few things:
- My crumpling butt a few weeks prior to the Juneau Marathon. It happened exclusively on the left side.
- The tendinitis under my fifth metatarsal before and after the Louisiana Marathon: left side.
- The biceps femoris issue in the months leading up to Philly, more or less magically cured by falling down a riverbank and cracking my back: left side.
- The current knee issue, hopefully resolved by chiropractic: left side.
DETECTIVES, DO WE SENSE A PATTERN?! Might this all be related to the functional leg-length discrepancy I tend to slip into over time? I’ve known for years about my finicky hips and SI joints, but news of my continued functional discrepancy was illuminating. I’m aware that many people associate chiropractic with quackery, but I’ve had good experiences, and it’s difficult for me not to suspect that almost every overuse ache I’ve had in my adult running life has been related to some kind of temporary misalignment that ended up stressing some tendon/muscle or another. (Of course, there’s often more to it than that, and I’m no kind of doctor…)
I gave up on the NSAIDs a few days before I was supposed to be done with them. I’d finally gone for a tentative run after several days on the drugs to give them time to take down the inflammation, but my knee started hurting after thirty minutes (yeah, maybe I pushed it a little too far). Post-run, it hurt worse than ever, so my conclusion was “f you, naproxen” and the only way I will use this bottle of pills in the future is if I require an impromptu maraca.
I’ve been getting adjusted, doing trigger point therapy on my butt, foam rolling, and getting in lots of piriformis and hip flexor stretching, along with yoga (…yup, yeah). All the things I willfully neglect when I’m not injured. I have no evidence that the yoga is helping, but I don’t feel like turning this into a scientific research experiment so I’m going to assume that it is and keep it on for preventative measure.
I’ll head back to school in a few days and see how long I can make it without adjustments. That seems to be one common complaint runners have with chiropractic: the idea that it’s only a temporary fix because you have to keep getting adjusted. I’m going to call the hip/core-based yoga and stretching my physical therapy and hope that it helps me hold proper alignments so that my knee continues to play nice.
Something else I’ve noticed — and this was the case for both my knee pain and the biceps femoris pain — is that when an “overuse” ache pops up, it seems to be correlated with me not being able to get my lower back to crack during this stretch:
Having known for a while about my sticky SI joints, I’ve gotten into the habit over the past few years of doing this hip/glute stretch with the goal of feeling a few nice little pops in my lower back as I swing my leg over to the opposite side. If I get to a point soon where I can’t get things to pop, I’ll take it as a red flag that it may be time to see a chiropractor again.*
*I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. But I’m going to file this away in my mental injury-prevention catalog anyway and use it as an indicator.
The actual running.
I’m slow and out of shape, but I’m grateful to be out there and my fitness will come back soon enough. There’s a 10K I have my eye on in March, and if I’m not in shape to run well by then, too bad.
Okay. Hitting publish on this and crossing my fingers that the universe won’t punish me for prematurely assuming I’m mostly healed.