Saturday, July 5, 2014

Physical challenges and you

I'm home from seeing my chiro, and I'm sore from the working over he gave me. My left hamstring was acting up again due to all the work on spirals I've been doing, and I had a minor complaint with my right (landing) foot. It was falling asleep in my boot and acting tingly.

It was nice to get a quick go-over and hear, "You've been training harder lately..." Why, yes!

I spent an hour there, getting loosened up and straightened out again, and getting pointers to improve turnout and strength. I've been so good about strengthening my left glute that now it's my right one that needs work. Go figure.

My physical state, much like my skating, is an ongoing work in progress. Six months ago, before I started seeing my chiro, I could not sit down for longer than ten minutes without horrible cramping in my hamstring. I tried physical therapy after I managed to actually hurt it, but that didn't work for very long. I asked my coach for help, but the answer of "stretch it out," was also limited in its effectiveness. I had my former physical therapist ready to send me off to do some hardcore MRI's to determine the problem. But I found this guy, and within three months he had me painless.

Now I see him about once a month. He helped my back when I hurt it, but mostly I see him for routine physical maintenance. I do this because GP's (general practitioners, or your family doctor) are useless when it comes to soft tissue issues. They don't get it. If they can't give it a pill, stick a needle in it, or see it in some kind of expensive and likely hazardous scan, they have no clue what to do with it. Worse, it's usually a three month wait to get in to see my GP, at which point the problem would either be gone or a whole lot worse!

"Well, what does he do, exactly?" I get this question a lot. The official answer is "joint realignment and muscle work."  The short version is, "a harder version of a no-mercy massage." Today's session was a very painful ten minutes on my plantar and the top of my foot, but when it was done I could feel a noticeable improvement, and the "pins and needles" feelings were gone. Working on my hamstring, I got into the spiral position and explained how the balance worked. He noted that not only was the hamstring being stretched, it was also bearing weight at the same time, which was causing the problem. He gave me some work to do that will improve both strength and flexibility. My landing leg also got a thorough workover.

There's no way I would be able to skate like I do and not have this kind of help in my corner. I know nothing of physical medicine, and this guy is available to me in person or over email to help me. I can get an appointment within a few days, and when I hurt my back he took me that day. He's helped my landing knee, too, which is another ongoing thing. Also improving my turnout, which is all about me keeping my quads and core loose to allow it to happen. (I spend a decent amount of time on a foam roller.)

Six months ago the answers I was getting were not working, so I looked until I found something that did. I think every adult skater needs a person like this. When you walk into a physically damaging sport like skating, already bearing the weight of a lifetime of (in my case) physical labor, you need help sorting out the physical issues that invariably crop up. It's also good to have help after a bad fall, because adults just don't bounce the way kids do.

There's only so much you can do on your own. I'd advise any adult skater to find solid help for the aches and pains, and bumps and bruises of this sport. It's done nothing but magic for me!


  1. The medical professionals you denigrate here are generalists. The coach you metion is not a medically trained professional. Perhaps it would be worth considering a sports medicine practitioner and/or an osteopathic doctor as they are more suited to your unique needs. Personally I am not a fan of chiros, but to each their own.

    1. GP's have "diagnosed" me with everything from heartburn (chest pain, later failed an exercise stress test) constipation (when I hurt my back) to blatantly telling me I was "just looking for some attention." (Bronchitis.) So. I am not a fan of GP's, but to each their own. :)

  2. As I read RP's comments, I think you are missing her point. She is not saying that you should go to a generalist. I read her comment as saying that you have a specific area of need and that it may be of benefit to see a specialist in that area. I have had fractures and some significant soft tissue injuries. I have a superb sports medicine/orthopedic doctor I see that has never been condescending nor patronizing to my issues. Without him, I never would have been able to return to sports as soon as I have.