Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pins and Needles

Still not running, which is no fun.
Yesterday I had my first-ever acupuncture treatment. It was interesting. I’ve typically put myself in the hands of sports med doctors, but in general I find that they lack imagination and the treatment is always the same:
1. Stop running.
2. Go to physical therapy twice per week for two months.
3. In PT, they stretch, massage, and apply ultrasound to the injured muscle. It won’t work.
4. After two months, we'll give you a shot of cortisone and you’ll be fine.
5. However, we won’t ever discover any underlying issues and you’ll be injured again soon.
6. Go to Step 1, repeat.

As far as acupuncture, well, at least it’s not going to make it worse, right? And perhaps it will work. I think, after all, that the problem is a gluteus muscle in spasm, which is irritating the sciatic nerve and causing me to favor it, which in turn messes up all kinds of supporting muscles.

Nothing else has worked so far, including:
· Complete and utter denial, pretending that nothing is wrong
· Stretching
· Not stretching
· Taking anti-inflammatories
· Not taking anti-inflammatories
· Running
· Not running
· Cycling
· Not cycling
· Moping around feeling sorry for myself
· Grousing, whining, complaining, grumbling, etc.

After one acupuncture treatment, I have no idea if it’s working. It was kind of fun though. I laid face-down on a massage-type table, and the practitioner stuck about 25 needles into my lower back, legs, and hip. None of it hurt at all; in fact I could barely feel anything except when he put the very last one into my hip, near the injured muscle. That one caused a kind of twinge … not painful, but sort of uncomfortable, only for a moment. Then I lay on the table, a heat lamp shining on my lower back and backside, soothing music playing, for about 30 minutes. I have to say that part was nice. I slipped into a relaxed semi-meditative state, and just concentrated on breathing slowly and deeply.

Today my hip is still sore, but I think the pain may be a little less site-specific, so maybe the acupuncture did something good. I will go back for two more treatments over the next four days, as recommended. What the heck. I also think I could use a chiropractic adjustment, I know I’m not aligned properly even if only because of my slightly gimpy right leg (following Achilles tendon reconstruction in 2003). I don’t want to add another variable, so I’m going to stick with the acupuncture for the time being, look into chiropractor afterward.

My plans for early summer racing are basically cancelled at this point. Oh, well, I always run better in the fall anyway.


  1. Good for you, Douglas. I love acupuncture. I see it as basically forcing the body into healing itself.

  2. Now there's something I didn't think of when I was injured :-)
    Still never found the root cause of my problem so history is sure to repeat itself but in the meantime I'll enjoy running again. When all else fails, rest and rest some more. Hang in there.


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