The bright side of injury.

If there’s an up side to being a doctor who runs and gets injured it’s learning about the new therapies out there for sports-related injuries.

I had my second chiropractic treatment yesterday for my lower back/hip issue. Since my first visit over a week ago I have felt about 80% better. Unfortunately there wasn’t much change in the range of motion of my left hip joint.  He suspects I have a deep ball and socket joint, meaning I was born this way and will just have to accept it and work with it.  After a rather vigorous ART therapy session he decides to use a Graston tool on my tender fascia.

Say again?

A Graston tool?

Medieval torture device?

You can see it has a few different edges – one sharp, one dull and one somewhere in between.  The traditional method of working the fascia left patients battered, bruised and bleeding, this according to my chiropractor who told me the history of the tool.  Honestly I don’t recall a lot of what he said, I was too focused on bracing through the new sensation of this tool working on my fascia.  It didn’t hurt per se, it was more of a grating sensation.

The Graston technique is described as :

an instrument-assisted, soft tissue mobilization therapy. It is beneficial in breaking up fascial restrictions, scar tissue adhesions, and detecting areas of chronic inflammation and/or fibrosis. Graston has been known to help conditions such as a cervical sprain/strain, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, lumbar sprain/strain, rotator cuff tendinosis, and even Achilles tendinosis.

At the end of treatment my skin felt raw and was red. I expected to wake up today completely bruised but I wasn’t.  The area is sore today but not nearly as bad as I expected.  Apparently there is no real consensus on what causes fascial pain or why working on fascia relieves pain. But talk to any athlete or casual runner and they’ll tell you that manual therapy on their fascia worked.   Confused yet? I certainly am.  I read this article on fascia science and I am still not clear on anything.  I have no idea what is ultimately the cause of my pain but I do know that after ART and this Graston tool, things are feeling better.

A few months ago, I saw a patient with chronic neck/shoulders and upper back pain.  He’s in his 60s and gets horrible tension headaches which he believes comes from the pain in his neck and shoulders.  When I examined him I noted that his trapezius muscles were very, very tight. There was almost no give to the muscles at all.   I suggested he see a chiropractor or physiotherapist who does ART. He didn’t like the idea of a chiropractor but agreed to see a physiotherapist.  I found one in the area who does ART and told him to book an appointment.  He came back to see me last week raving about his experience.  His shoulder and neck pain is still present but it’s a lot better than its been in years and he feels like he can move his neck much more than he could a few months ago.  But more importantly, his headaches have completely resolved.  “I don’t know what she was doing and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, doc, but it worked!  Thank you!”

In the end, it doesn’t matter that the science of fascia is still iffy. What matters is that therapeutic tools have developed that help patients feel better.

A Pain in the ….

About a week before the 5K race I started noticing a subtle ache in my lower back.  It’s been there on and off in the past, mostly related to the pregnancies but this time it wasn’t going away.  I felt great during the race and after but in the week that followed the ache turned into something more.  Then I chalked it up to the monthly cycle low back pain but it didn’t go away when the monthly cycle left.  It started wrapping around to the front, near my hip bone.

Uh oh.

Injured.

Again?!?!?????

I thought I had been doing so well.  Apparently not.

I saw a massage therapist who suggested I see a chiropractor.  I had been thinking about getting into some ART therapy. I had heard about this from the FB running group I follow and heard it was pretty good for soft tissue injuries.  Now, the last time I saw a chiropractor was probably close to 20 years ago and it involved a lot of back and neck cracking.  I wasn’t too keen on going down that route.

I was pleasantly surprised by my experience with this new chiropractor.  He assessed me quickly as having very tight hips which were due to weak glutes.  Pretty much exactly as I had suspected and he went on to do some active release therapy on my hips.  I have incredibly tight hip flexors.

And this pretty much sums my situation up.

After 15 minutes of active release therapy, all I can say is “owie” and “wow”.  At the end of the session my lower back and hips, while still aching, felt 100% looser than when I went in.  Sadly that didn’t last but I have been working hard all week on stretching and opening up the hip joints.  I have a lot of work to do.  I am going to scale back on the distance and stick with no more than 5 km runs for a few weeks until this settles down.