So, I’m having a dilemma, and I hope to gain some clarity by writing about it. And if any of you out there have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them too!
As some of you know, I started experiencing significant hip, ankle, and foot issues during the last third of the CIM training cycle. I vowed to get these things fixed after finishing the marathon. I went to my doctor on Tuesday and secured a physical therapy referral. While I was waiting for that appointment, I scheduled another one with a certain ART/neurokinetic therapist who was highly recommended to me by a friend. (The therapist shall remain unidentified until I come to a conclusion about what I’m going to do. For the record, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with this therapist — whom I’ll call Jeff.)
Last Monday (the 10th) was my first appointment with Jeff. My friend told me that Jeff was like a neuromuscular savant — that he could diagnose by feel and may say semi-random things along the way. (If you’ve never heard of neurokinetic therapy, here’s an informative post about it I found on the interwebz.) I arrived with high hopes that Jeff could unlock my ankle and free up its range of motion. We did work on some of that, but he also discovered many, many issues in my post-marathon body that need to be addressed. Specifically, my hip flexors and diagphram were overcompensating for a lot of other muscle groups and my hamstrings were very, very weak. He gave me some exercises and stretching to do on my own, and recommended another session the following week. While I wasn’t 100% sold on another session, I did feel like Jeff provided 3 services in one: ART (Active Release Therapy), neurokinetic therapy, and physical therapy. So, I decided that one more session wouldn’t hurt anything, except for my pocketbook.
Today was my second session with Jeff. Frankly, I thought the session itself was more useful than my first, in that he really helped to work out some of the knots in my hip and glutes (and there were some pretty big knots in there, let me tell you… I was crying out for mercy at one point). He did his neuromuscular savant thing and found that my whole left side, from my shin up to my neck, was probably compensating for my right ankle’s limited range of motion. He also found that my right hip was causing a lot of the imbalance on both sides (if that makes any sense). Somehow, working out my right hip addressed the fact that my left hip was too low. Weird. Anyway, I could definitely feel my sacroiliac (SI, or hip) ligament releasing, even if it did take several sets of Jeff patiently pushing on my leg for 2-3 minutes each. So that was the good part.
The bad news was that he thought we had more work to do. A lot more work — at least a few more sessions he said. Now, each session costs $100 for an hour… add on gratuity and that’s a lot more than I was budgeting to “fix” my ankle. To be fair, he has been extremely focused each session; we often go over the 1 hour limit in order for him to feel like he’s properly addressed the problem areas he had set for the day. The other piece of bad news is that he wants me to cut back on my running — both in intensity and in quantity — for the sake of letting my body recover. He said that my body has found all of these different ways to compensate for the bad ankle and if I run too much and too hard, those compensation mechanisms will only get stronger, which in turn will continue to throw my biomechanics/running form out of whack. He did seem optimistic that if we work together that I’d be able to get back to serious training in time for the Oakland Half.
I left Jeff’s office with a heavy heart, knowing that at least most of what he said was right. I DO need to address my biomechanics if I want to keep running for a long time. However, part of me is doubting that this (read: Jeff) is the solution. Like, even if Jeff is able to get me into a balanced state neuromuscularly, I’m wondering how he’s going to fix my ankle, because isn’t that the main problem here? Reading his Yelp reviews, it seems like Jeff has a cadre of happy clients who speak very highly of his bodywork prowess. Also, for what it’s worth, Jeff didn’t suggest multiple sessions to my friend (the one who had initially recommended him to me). So, it’s not like he automatically tells every client to come back. Regardless of whether I see Jeff again, I will definitely take the advice of cutting back mileage and intensity for the coming weeks, strengthening my hamstrings, and massaging my glutes with a tennis ball.
What do you think? Should I take the leap of (expensive) faith and trust that he’ll help me? Or should I cut my losses and try physical therapy for now? (Which, BTW, will still be expensive because I have crappy medical insurance.)