The most challenging time for a clinician to meet a runner is one week before an important race. Typically, the runners that seek help at this stage in their training are those who have in some capacity exceeded their tissue tolerance. (If you have yet to read last week's column about tissue tolerance, I recommend you do so in order to better understand the remainder of today's discussion.) These individuals are the ones who present with hamstring injuries, stress fractures, achilles problems, and other overuse injuries related to prolonged biomechanical imbalances. Unfortunately, these imbalances often remain undetected for weeks or even months and are not pleasant once they finally find their way to the surface.
Dr. Jeff Spencer, Lance Armstrong's chiropractor, wrote, "The body doesn't care what you think, it only cares about what you do." This statement is not only true for the athletic population, but it holds true for each and every one of us...especially as we age! The purpose of today's discussion is to introduce some options to improve your tissue tolerance before your tissues are injured in the first place. There are many ways to improve your tissue tolerance. This article will discuss a strategy that is focused on the cause of your biomechanical imbalances. On examination it is important to find out what your body can and cannot do and in the process of doing so, reveal your underlying structural challenges that are complicating the situation. Some of the techniques typically employed include digital foot scans, center of gravity measurements, range of motion testing, functional movement screens and biomechanical x-rays. The goal of this assessment is to expose the structural problems that may or may not be currently producing symptoms.
Identification of your structural imbalances is always the first step in reducing your vulnerability to injury. Recommendations for reducing your biomechanical risk factors may include joint mobilization and stabilization through vector-specific adjustment and supportive exercises. A proactive rehabilitation program may be helpful as well. Other supportive measures include custom orthotics, muscle massage, nutrition alteration, stretching, and increasing your pure water consumption. Many people are surprised to find out how important of a role their nutrition plays in the health of their cells and tissues. Further information regarding the techniques for improving your tissue tolerance will be outlined over the course of the next two weeks. In the meantime, best of luck and I hope this column will at least help you better understand why your injury has occurred.