Every runner, or athlete for that matter, gets hurt as a result of their training at some point in time. It is the inevitable outcome of trying to balance on the tightrope that separates injuries from peak performances. For a distance runner, and a high mileage one at that, I have been exceedingly lucky in my career to have had no injury that has caused me to miss more than two weeks of regular training. And along with this, even given the unfortunate female propensity for low bone density (monthly iron loss) and body structure, I have never had so much as a stress reaction. The problem females tend to face with their hip alignment stems from that fact that we actually have hips. That is, our body does not form a straight line down from torso to ankle, so our middle (hips) is wider than our foot stance. Imagine an upside down triangle and you get the picture. Even with my lack of serious injuries I have had just about every treatment known to mankind to manage my one kryptonite…my upper left hamstring.
Pretty much anyone who has run with me and seen me post workout can attest to the fact that my flexibility is not something to commend. In fact, it is somewhat of a mystery to me how I manage to reach my feet to put my socks and shoes on. What I have found over time is that my problems don’t really stem from my muscles being too tight but instead are a result of poor hip and lower back mobility. Just to cap things off, as I was growing in the womb, my cells apparently forgot to put my pelvis in the correct position. Sweet. Multiple people have told me that my pelvis itself is tiled forward. This puts my hamstrings and back leg muscles in a not so ideal neutral position. When the pelvis tilts forward it requires the hamstrings to stretch, with adds additional strain to them even when standing in a straight up and relaxed stance.
As a result of this misalignment I have had pains, similar to pyriformis syndrome, in my upper hamstring attachment and lower glute. It all began three years ago as something that I only felt while sitting, so I did not worry too much since it was not impeding my running at all. Over the years though, it has been an up and down battle to keep it from hurting while both sitting, running, and doing weight workouts. Clearly my friends, this was a problem for me. Here are all of the treatments that I received while at UT to combat the issue and my reactions to them (along with daily ice baths):
- Weekly deep tissue sports massage (lovely, but not quite specific enough to do the trick)
- Myofascial release (most painful treatment…I thought)
- Chiropractic visits (yeah, didn’t help one bit)
- MRI, bone scan, x-rays (nothing found)
- Stimulation treatment (Stim…who knows)
- Ultrasound (feels nice, but no relief)
- Heat-pack compression (warm and cozy and that is the extent of it)
- Witch doctor at Oriental medicine clinic (HOLY CRAP)
- Another witch doctor with a little squeaky belt reading energy frequency (WTF Steve, seriously?)
- Acupuncture (didn’t help, didn’t hurt)
Throughout all of this treatment-tomfoolery I was in a “mostly healthy” state the majority of the time. I’d say around 90% of what I would have liked to be. However, this past season is when it all went kablooey and things changed in a blink, or should I say, a cool-down. We warmed up two miles to the track, did 12x400m repeats at 78-80, cooled down 4 miles to Rogue Equipment and…F^%&! Ouchy ouch for the hammy string. I had never felt this type of searing pain in that area prior to that day, and I knew that it was not the same old tightness that had been plaguing me for so long. This was different. So much so that I was ultimately unable to finish my last season at UT. It was very odd because I was able to run, but not any faster than about 7 minute pace without it physically impeding my movement (not to mention hurting like crazy). In the end, the decision was made by my coach and I that though I did still have a great base, I was simply not fit enough to compete in a 10k at the Big 12 level, or the Little 12 for that matter ; )
After officially ending my UT career I took a few days down and then began slowly building my training, but I was STILL not 100%. In a last-ditch attempt to be whole again I made an appointment at the Airrosti clinic in the office of my general practitioner. I had heard multiple accounts of people being fixed in three treatments or less, so I was interested. One thing that kept me a bit skeptical was my general inclination to not trust chiropractic work. Airrosti is actually not chiropractic in nature, however it tends to be practiced by licensed chiropractors because of their extensive knowledge and intuitive feel for the anatomy of the human body and how the muscles, fascia, tendons, and bones align and work together (or against each other). And so, I arrived for my first of four appointments.
People, I will be brief (since this is now a marathon post), freaking miracles have occurred in that office. After a mere four treatments I am completely pain-free. After each appointment I felt miles better, which is the goal. The airrosti practitioners say that each time they touch the problem area they want it to leave better than before hand. Not better in a week, not better in three days, better the minute they release their fingers from the tissue. This is exactly the experience that I have had. Obviously, there are millions of things that can afflict an athlete, runners in particular, so there are things that are not helped by this type of treatment. Even so, I would say that as long as you didn’t break something or tear a leg off, it is definitely worth a try. Overall I think that there are benefits to some of the things I have tried in the past and they are certainly great methods for maintaining health while training, but only airrosti treatments have allowed me to train at 80-100% beginning immediately after the first visit.
The long-winded point that I have been attempting to make is that I would recommend to anyone suffering from a soft tissue injury that they make an appointment at an airrosti clinic and then see how it goes. There isn’t much to lose considering the fact that you are already hurting anyhow : ) I would recommend Dr. Ellspermann (who I see) or Dr. Dirksen (many friends see him as well) who work out of Texas Sports & Family Medicine on Red River in Austin, TX. If nothing else, you will leave with some pretty tape on your leg. Pink is the best, by the way.