You might think that as a chiropractor I’m immune to hurting myself. Seriously, who would go to a chiropractor with a hurt back? So I didn’t tell anyone. Wait… back up! How did I hurt myself? Well, this story is probably similar to yours…
I’m in pretty good shape. I go to crossfit or bootcamp 5 days a week, I do some yoga, I get adjusted and I have a pretty physical job. On this particular Wednesday, the WOD (workout of the day) involved a lot of squats. I read that most people only strengthen the muscles you can see when you look in the mirror, thereby ignoring the back, butt, and legs collectively known as the posterior chain. This is what you workout when you do squats. As we did set after set of front squats, back squats, air squats… I didn’t feel a pop or have any sudden pain, but over the next few days I got sore. Really sore. If I leaned a certain way, the pain got sharp and it was difficult to pick up my son.
So I went and pulled out a magic tool that I only use for special occasions and my pain was instantly transformed… No!
I took my own advice. I got adjusted! What else? I laid on an icepack and I took a week off of workouts.
What really happened? So by all rights, I’m no different than most people. I sit more than I should, my hip flexors are tight and my glutes are weak. When hip flexors are tight, they become shortened. This happens when you sit more than you stand. These tight muscles pull the spine down and leave you vulnerable to injury. When your spine is out of alignment, the muscles which attach to those bones are out of balance too! This makes it easier to strain a muscle. Of course we all know that regular visits to the chiropractor keep your spine healthy, but what else can you do to truly prevent injury? Stretching is often debated, but I’m a fan. Slow and controlled stretching of tight muscles just makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense is sitting at a desk all day and thinking that a 30 minute workout is going to undo all that stress and tension. You must move your body more throughout the day and keep sitting to a minimum.
When accidents do happen, take a break from workouts! Ice is your friend. While heat may feel good, it will actually cause more inflammation. Ice frequently but not for more than 20 minutes at a time. After a week of rest and adjustments my pain is 100% gone and I’m back to bootcamping! Don’t wait for a week or more to visit your chiropractor! A visit within 24 hours may get you back where you want to be faster and in less visits.