After completing my own thorough attempts at alleviating the pointed and worrisome pain in my groin and thigh area, which by the way consisted of running, then not running, then running again, then not running, and finally, trying to run again. I only had relative success with this form of self-treatment before the nagging pain would return and I was forced to take more days off or cut runs short. I was done self-medicating with ibuprofen and started to get concerned that not only was I never going to run this away, but that I was continuously preventing myself from healing, which is when it was suggested that I go see a local chiropractor who specializes with runners and is the sports doctor for a local running club.
In typical me fashion I managed to ignore all the annoying proper procedures one takes before visiting a chiropractor, such as first establishing a primary care doctor who refers you to said chiropractor. I plan on taking my chances with insurance and dealing with that mess later down the road. Let’s not dwell on that too much now lest I develop a stress-related heart condition that takes me out of my running cycle all over again.
So I called the local chiropractor and set up an appointment, completely ignorant of what happens at a wellness center as such, but trusting that the doctor’s credentials were sufficient to deal with this problem of mine. Two days later I walked into the center, which was a little yellow house renovated into a relaxing space filled with tiny rooms containing various beds and almost medieval machinery if it weren’t for the baby blue padding to comfort the patient. A new-agey music was softly blowing from the speakers in the ceiling. I passed the time filling out insurance forms and catching up on the latest Running Times.
Finally I was called into one of the rooms where the nurse (?) performed some of the basic health checks such as weight (145) and blood pressure (100 over 60) before leaving. I then waited for Dr. Wilson to come visit. After about 5 minutes of analyzing a shoddy drywall and paint job Dr. Wilson come into the room and introduced herself to me. She looked at my chart and read aloud “A runner huh? Great…that’s my specialty.” To be honest, I thought to myself, “Go ahead, ask me what race I did last. Go ahead, ask me how I did.” She didn’t. I then went on to describe the pain I have been having, when it occurs, where it occurs, how severe and all sorts of other hyper-detailed points I thought she should know.
After getting the verbal assessment out of the way she had me lay face down on the padded table and started feeling around my pelvis area and feet to get a physical reading of my body. She assured me that most everything seemed where it should be, but that my pelvis was rotated slightly more on my right side then my left, actually making my right leg about 1/2 an inch shorter than my left. Fascinating! She then had me lie on my back and performed some range of motion movements with my right and left leg, determining exactly which muscles were causing me problems. She confirmed that the areas which hurt the most are being aggravated by the single muscle in the groin area where the pain is most pronounced. Lastly, she had me stand up, bend over and touch my toes to get a reading on my spinal alignment, which again she assured me was just fine.
After some more discussion of my pain and exactly the muscle that is causing it she told me she wanted to have me get x-rays across the street to make sure I didn’t have a stress fracture. She said she had no worries and was confident that I didn’t have a stress fracture, but wanted to be 100% sure before moving on. After getting the x-rays she would bring me back in for specific physical work and then have me back running right away. The casual tone with which she said that encouraged me greatly. I went to the reception desk and made an appointment to return the very next day (today).
I drove across the street and had a series of x-rays taken at an ob-gyn office of all places. The technician read the “runner” description on my chart and launched into stories of high school x-country glory, because after all, everyone seems to be a runner. I won’t lie. In my head I thought, “Go ahead, ask me what race I just ran. Ask me how I did.” He didn’t.
Fast forward to today. Upon arriving at the chiropractor I was brought into a tiny room with that tall medieval-looking table I mentioned earlier. I got to study the table with all its knobs and levers intently as I waited for the doctor to come in. When she did we took a look at my x-rays from the day prior and she pointed out the suspicions she had, first assuring me that I don’t have a stress fracture and that actually my bone density looks “great”. Wha?! “Great” bone density and no milk?! How is it ever possible?! Please read the sarcastic tone. She then pointed out that my “spacing” looks good and spine alignment looks great and that my pelvis is rotated ever so slightly, probably contributing to the muscle pain I’m currently experiencing. She showed me a point of aggravation on the x-ray. Then we got to work.
She had me lay face down on the table, which slowly tipped forward till it rested horizontally, allowing her to manipulate my bones and what not most effectively. A titled piece of the table rested under my pelvis so that Dr. Wilson could press on to me forcefully and the table would catch the weight. It made a disconcerting slamming noise every time she did it, but the pain was non-existant. She began the physical work by pushing downward on various points of my pelvis and then checking the length of my leg by lining my feet up together. With each powerful push she brought my leg length more and more even to each other. Finally, with one last push my legs matched each other in length. Just like that. The work wasn’t done though, as that was more a continuous preventative measure than anything else.
Dr. Wilson then had me lie on my stomach and performed some range of motion stretching to concentrate on the specific muscle area causing the pain. She then focused pointedly on the muscle causing the pain and had me bring my leg towards me at a 90 degree angle, stretch it out flat and slowly lower it down……while she took her fingers and tried to stab that muscle to death!!! It wasn’t a massage that’s for sure. A handful of times I had to bring my leg in, extend it and lower it as she continued to press and manipulate the muscle into submission. It really didn’t feel good, but at least was nowhere near the tear inducing pain I experienced during a deep tissue massage I once had. This was merely uncomfortable. She explained that I would probably feel soreness in the area akin to post-workout soreness, but that was to be expected.
I was then led into another room where I was told I would receive an ultrasound on the area to “blast away the inflammation”. Honestly, I don’t really understand how that works, but am really open to anything short of some new-age hippy waving their hands over me to release my “negative energies”. So I laid on my side on the table and pulled my shorts and boxers down far enough to receive the ultrasound. And yes, it’s just what you would think when you hear the word “ultrasound”, just without the baby and nerve-wracking financial concern. The nurse applied a healthy dose of incredibly cold clear gel to my hip and groin area and started rubbing some sort of hand-held device around my hip, buttock, and groin area. In retrospect, this telling sounds quite uncomfortable in a sexual creeper sort of way, and I won’t say things were a little awkward, but once I settled into the process I just convinced myself the muscle was giving up and crawling back to its hole never to show its inflammed face again. After about 10 minutes of this gelatinous rubbing the machine beeped, the nurse put a washcloth on my hip and told me to come out to the waiting room when I’m ready. I was left to wipe up a ridiculously liberal amount of gel off my hip and was a little taken aback to find the top of my boxers and shorts coated in the goo. Thanks lady.
I walked to the front desk and was told the doctor wanted to see me one last time. I made an appointment for the end of the week and that was that.
So here I sit, again runningless, probably for the rest of the week until I get my last treatment, of which I’ll probably completely ruin by running the final DINO series trail race the very next morning.
To be honest, for whatever reason I think this is going to work and I’ve already started to feel less and less groin pain during my workdays, which is a very encouraging sign. So, until Friday, it’s catching up on daily errands while I DON’T run. It sure is going to be hard to hold myself back when I start up serious training again. 3 1/2 weeks to Tecumseh.