Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, DC, CCFC Competitor Magazine 1992
Any symptoms not responding within three to five days of home treatment should be looked at by a qualified medical practitioner with experience in sports injuries. They should be able to explain the problem, its cause and how to prevent it from recurring.
The examples shown are part of the roadside repair and prevention kit of stretches and strengthening exercises we recommend for our patients. If any of these exercises creates pain, STOP immediately. Wait until you can do them without pain or have had the problem looked at by a doctor.
Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, DC, CCFC
Getting The Kinks Out
A kink, or muscular stiffness, is a normal biological reaction to living on this planet and grappling with the tensions of everyday living. The average person shrinks two to four inches by the time they're 70.
Muscles continually shorten as a result of life's continual battle with gravity, often escalating into war when a person exercises. Learning how to properly take care of your body and interpret its signals can be your training career's saving grace.
How do we best keep the kinks to a minimum in an incredibly well-designed and engineered high-performance vehicle composed of approximately 600 muscles, 1,200 ligaments, and 200 bones? As a chiropractor and back specialist, I know that tightness of muscles can be easily attributed to spinal bones being out of proper alignment. Nerves are trapped between the vertebrae, sending nearby muscles into spasm.
The optimal function of our bodies, similar to the mechanical properties of any automobile, is achieved when there is the least amount of resistance to the machine's performance. Just as gauges in an automobile give an indication of its performance, aches and pains serve as the body's built-in instrument panel, revealing how it's functioning. The athlete with recurring symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor specializing in such conditions. As long as a gradual 70-85% reduction of symptoms occurs with treatment in 30-60 days, you can assume that healing is taking place and the body is probably not breaking down more tissue than it's able to effectively repair.
Unfortunately, 95% of us do NOT have structurally balanced bodies (i.e., one leg is longer than the other). Symmetrical sports like running, swimming and biking can magnify the body's imbalances, and symptoms surface with increased physical activity.
The most common structural imbalance seen in our clinic involves the length of the legs. We have X-rayed over 350 patients, 95% of whom exhibit a 1/8" - 3/4" difference in actual bony leg length. The impact of this phenomenon is that the amount of weight applied to the long leg is 5 - 30 pounds more than to the short leg every step this person takes, every stroke down on a bike pedal makes the muscles of the long leg work more than those of the short leg. When you run, this discrepancy increases three-fold, which means 15-90 pounds more weight is applied to the long leg with every stride.
It's no wonder symptoms set in with most active athletes. The more active the person, the sooner symptoms related to these conditions surface. A simple way to see how much your weight on each foot differs is to stand on two bathroom scales at once, one foot on each scale. This is only a crude way of assessing the difference and it's only a start. There are times when a person unconsciously favors a leg because of a lower back or hip problem, putting more weight on the opposite leg. Sole extensions like Sorbothane pads should only be placed under the short leg's foot when absolute confirmation of the leg length is made with an X-ray of the femurs and tibias.
The body's kinetic chain of imbalances starts with the foot striking the ground, followed by a cascade of interdependent reactions involving twisting and pulling sensations in predictable muscle groups, tendons, ligaments and bones from the bottom of the feet to the top of the skull.
After rendering some 75,000 plus patient treatments over the past 11 years and treating long-distance athletes like Scott Tinley, Scott Molina, Julie Brown, Tom Warren and Dr. Barbara Alvarez, I've learned that the structural faults of the body cause abnormal areas of improper muscular and tendon reactions. Ultimately, the result is pain.
Most top athletes use chiropractic care to help minimize the effects of their bodies' imbalances. Custom-made orthotics from non-weight-bearing casts can also be used to offset differences in leg length. These can be gradually fine-tuned with modifications as a result of reassessing the muscles and tendons of the feet, legs and lower back. These orthotic adjustments help get rid of most physical symptoms, ranging from foot pain to headache, which are most often due to imbalances of the lower extremities.
A good acronym for most musculoskeletal symptoms is RICE. R is for "rush immediately for an ice pack." I is for "ice 20 minutes every hour." C is for "compression" and E is for "elevation" if the foot, knee, hand or elbow is injured.