Part of the Equation
Any experienced runner will tell you that hydration, nutrition and stretching are an integral part of their training. In my opinion however, one of the most critical elements often left out of this equation is the use of chiropractic to ensure that all parts of the body – hips, neck and spine – are in alignment.
Dr. Ryan Connell D.C. of AFC Physical Medicine/Chiropractic kicked off my interview with a very simply analogy. “You don’t just brush the teeth you want to keep. You brush them all. Chiropractic addresses the functioning of the entire body, not just where it hurts.”
Many of the injuries we develop as runners are the direct result of a skeletal or muscular misalignment that causes pain or inflammation. Chiropractors help re-educate the muscles, joints and tendons to promote proper biomechanics and recovery not just where the pain is but also to those areas that directly influence the mechanics.
Chiropractic as a LifestyleChiropractic is a personal choice and often shrouded with many common misconceptions. While there are chiropractors out there who are very singularly focused on doing nothing more than providing simple adjustments, my goal with this article is to give you more comfort in finding a chiropractic office (like AFC Chiropractic) that is holistic, goal oriented and focused on providing whole body wellness directly related to your health and activity level.
“The right chiropractor won’t just treat your pain”, says Dr. Connell. “They should ask a lot of questions about your activities and goals and then work backwards from your symptom(s) to treat the root cause. From there, they should develop a treatment plan that becomes less reactive and more proactive.”
While chiropractors are committed to re-educating your body, you too have to be bought into the treatment plan, proper nutrition and a lifestyle that helps support the changes your body is going through.
Asking the Right Questions
So what should you look for when seeking out a chiropractor?
“Finding the right chiropractor is just like any partnership. You have to be comfortable with the staff, the doctors and their treatment philosophy”, Dr. Connell stresses. “If you’re not, then it’s probably not a great fit.”
You can always start by getting recommendations from friends or colleagues. Treat the process just like a job interview – except you’re the one hiring! Here are some of questions that you could/should ask a prospective chiropractor:
- What is your philosophy on whole-body wellness?
- What parts of your practice support this philosophy?
- Do you consider chiropractic reactive or proactive?
- What are the elements of any treatment plan you recommend for patients?
- Does your practice support physical medicine?
- If so, who else do you have on staff? A massage therapist? A Physiotherapist? A Nurse Practitioner?
- How do you handle injuries/symptoms that you can’t treat?
- What are the doctor’s expectations of me as a patient?
- How often do you hold classes for patients (and the public)?
- How often do you conduct re-exams?
- How do you measure my progress over time?
Remember, only you can be the judge of how these answers stack up against your beliefs and expectations. It’s not unreasonable to interview 2-3 chiropractors before finding one that has the right synthesis of treatment options, philosophy, great people and convenient location(s).
Dr. Connell is the first to say however that chiropractic does not solve every medical problem. “Having a medical doctor and nurse practitioner on staff allows us to diagnose a myriad of issues and refer clients to other professionals if necessary. However, continuing chiropractic care in parallel with medical care is one of the best possible things you can do.”
Chiropractic offers a safe and drug-free alternative to treat and prevent many of the issues runners face – shin splints, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and IT band inflammation. The key is to be proactive with as much preventative care as possible. Chiropractic and massage are formidable aids for many of the top athletes of our time (Tiger Woods, Joe Montana and Lance Armstrong to name a few) and can help supplement even the most challenging training plans you may have.
Perhaps you see a chiropractor today or have not yet decided whether chiropractic is for you. Ask around, get recommendations and be informed on how chiropractic promotes complete body wellness. Hopefully, now you’re armed with the right questions to ask. Anything that is proactive, compliments your training and is drug-free sure beats sitting on the couch because of an injury.
Chiropractic & Me
I have seen chiropractors for over 15 years but never truly realized the benefits of whole body wellness until becoming a patient at AFC Chiropractic. Over the last 4 years, I have worked with Dr. Connell and his staff to not only successfully heal from a debilitating case of plantar fasciitis but continuously grow my running aspirations from marathons, to triathlons to ultra-marathons. I continue to get adjusted weekly (neck, spine, hips, knees, ankles and toes). Yes, I believe in chiropractic.
At AFC Chiropractic (multiple locations in the Phoenix metro area) and AFC Physical Medicine (Gilbert, San Tan Valley, Mesa & Fountain Hills) their professional doctors and staff emphasize the management of the musculoskeletal system of the body without the use of drugs or surgery. This wellness-based model of chiropractic and medical care begins with the spine and nervous system – the center of control for the body. A properly functioning nervous system is essential to the body’s performance, and a healthy spine helps you feel and look good. The proper care of the spine and nervous system through manual therapy may provide you with a healthy alternative to the typical medical model, offering you an alternative to pain relief and management.