It happens every year. Just days before the Houston Marathon, a handful of new patients arrive in our office with low back or sacroiliac joint pain hoping to be “fixed” so they can run the race they’ve been training for over the past few months or longer.
Most were dealing with the pain throughout their training, but hoped that it would go away on its own. Some tried stretching, massage, anti-inflammatories, and maybe foam rolling, but were unable to get lasting relief as their distances increased.
One of the main reasons they didn’t take action sooner was the thought that they would be unable to run during a chiropractic treatment plan. That somehow getting adjusted would mess up their gait or that I would tell them they would have to give up running in order to get out of pain. This could not be further from the truth.
The first idea we have to overcome with these patients is the thought that your spine and pelvis is not supposed to move. Too often, we think of our spine as this big, rigid structure that wouldn’t benefit from making sure each spinal segment is moving properly. They worry that introducing movement into the spine will only make things worse, while that is exactly what they need to run their best race.
The “crack” that is often heard during an adjustment is that specific spinal segment releasing, moving back into its proper alignment, and returning to moving as it was designed. The adjustment also releases endorphins (just like the “runner’s high) and should feel totally comfortable, especially if you’re not already in a ton of pain.
If you’ve never been adjusted before, the positive effects of that initial adjustment may only last a few hours or just a day. That happens when the spinal muscles return the newly adjusted vertebra back to its old alignment, a kind of muscle memory that must be overcome in order to provide a lasting result.
That’s why most chiropractic treatment plans will be done as a series of adjustments at regularly scheduled intervals. The frequency of the necessary adjustments becomes less and less as the spine starts to hold the adjustment for longer periods of time.
So should you get adjusted before a race? Once you start to get adjusted on a regular basis, it becomes very obvious to you when you are in alignment, and when you are out of alignment. Getting adjusted days or even moments before a race is totally safe and should only improve performance.
Getting adjusted following your race will help with recovery, and will help get things back into place so that you can get right back to training injury-free.