At this point, you may have completed your last target for the year like the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. Then you ask, “What’s next?” Recovery should be the first answer that comes to mind. Besides resting and refueling, what other holistic approaches should be incorporated into your recovery routine? This blogpost will highlight the importance of the post-race chiropractic check and adjustment as part of recovery.
One year ago, I shared a clinic blogpost on my podium finish at the 2016 Marathon being in large part thanks to regular chiropractic care. On 3rd December 2017, I retained my runner-up local position at the Singapore Marathon, despite a tougher course and deeper elite runner field. Consistency is vital, whether that goes for competition performance, training programme, or body condition. In the bigger picture, athletes are not merely trying to avoid aches and pains or to stay injury-free, but more importantly to maximize athletic potential in the long run. My current patient came in for his chiropractic check several days before the 2017 marathon and joked at the end of the visit that the adjustments were worth 2 minutes of a personal best (PB) time; on race day he was ecstatic to fulfil his potential by hitting that PB by more than 2 minutes! If you want to be consistent, how you recover from a hard effort (like a 42.195km marathon) will determine how you build up towards your next challenge.
The hands of a Doctor of Chiropractic are typically the last hands on me before a race, as well as the first hands on me after a race. This means during the recovery phase, I get my own spine checked and adjusted within a couple days post-race, and then subsequently look into a light full body massage if necessary. I would not personally advise doing a massage within two days post-marathon in order to let the micro tissue tears self-heal first.
Chiropractic focuses on correcting vertebral subluxations – spinal misalignments that cause nervous system interference. If we understand the body to be all connected, a suboptimal 2-way nerve flow could be associated with imbalances throughout the body like a leg length difference, digestive issues, weakened immunity, and undue tension along a myofascial chain. Muscles attach to bone; if the bone is misaligned (even slightly) and all we focus is on stretching or massaging those tight muscles, it may not be addressing the root cause of the imbalance. Gentle chiropractic adjustments via a vibrating instrument called an Arthrostim and a protocol called the Koren Specific Technique (KST) allow Doctors of Chiropractic to locate and correct these deep body stresses, so the body can be allowed to self-heal optimally.
My final chiropractic tune-up was a day before the marathon. During the race, I suffered calf cramps twice due to the immediate dodging of slower runners. Besides that, everything in my body was firing smoothly, both physically and mentally (I had never been so focused during a marathon before). A priority the day after my marathon was the post-race chiropractic check, which revealed specific soreness at the sacroiliac joint and inflammation at the L4 spinal disc both when seated and standing. I did not initially “feel” these two areas to be problematic but the objective checks showed otherwise. That is the beauty of KST, which allows us to check and adjust in unique positions of vertebral subluxation. Most of all, because it’s so gentle (infants and seniors can be adjusted likewise), no popping, cracking, or twisting of the spine is involved in adjusting. For example, my right sacroiliac joint was misaligned in a standing forward flexed position, a subluxation that showed up in a dynamic position unique to my running stresses. Running transmits forces from feet up through the spine up to three times one’s body weight, so it was no surprise that I had such misalignments. Before I get back into my next training cycle, I definitely would want my body to start off as balanced as possible.
I started regular chiropractic care since 2010 and have remained free of training injuries ever since. I have also been blessed since then with strong immunity and increased mental clarity. This profession is far more than just about aches or pains, or about covering up a sign or symptom, but about maximizing optimum health potential. Do look into your recovery routine to see how you can make the most of what you have.
Dr. Ashley Liew