Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Athlete Treatment and Rehab Options
I have been weightlifting competitively for over 10 years, so I have had to deal with injuries, and getting my body to work optimally on a consistent basis. I have had, and seen multiple professionals for various reasons, so I will give you the low down on how each one affected me. NOTE: This is not official medical advice, this is my opinion as an athlete, and my anecdotal experience. I encourage you to follow medical advice from your doctor, and figure out for yourself, what works best for you!
General Practitioner Doctors: The doctors I have encountered, don’t seem to care, or know much about fixing soft tissue injuries. They are good for ordering x-rays, surgeries, and drugs. I have been able to avoid surgeries by seeking alternative solutions with success. I had a sport specialist surgeon in 2011, tell my he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my hip, or how to deal with it. He figured I would just be “crippled” and not be able to continue weightlifting anymore. I had knee pain and my GP told me to quit weightlifting, that was in 2009, glad I didn’t listen to him. I don’t take any drugs, not even Tylenol or advil, that inhibits your healing. That being said, if you do in fact need surgery, you need to see one for the referral. I had one client tell me that they were speaking to their neurologist to try and figure out why her migraines were happening. She was told that they do not try to find out the root problem, just treat the migraines / symptoms with drugs! I am not saying all doctors are like this, but this is the general attitude I have noticed in the medical field.
Chiropractors- Can be good if you go to the right one. Make sure they are certified in Active Release Technique (very useful). http://www.activerelease.com/ I have been to multiple chiro’s. I find that if I have a recurring problem, the Chiropractor can temporarily adjust me, but the adjustment fades. I have had a few occasions where I have had a real limiting problem, and after an adjustment, the chiropractor has been able to fix it. That being said, Chiro is passive care(someone is doing something to you while you lay there). ART is somewhat active as you are contracting muscle while the chiro is working on it. I had an ongoing issue for years, where every time I would do a set of heavy squats or deadlifts, I would need my pelvis / SI joint adjusted. The adjustment would last until I did a heavy set of squats or deadlifts, then I would need another adjustment. That was one issue that Z health drills fixed for me indefinitely. An example of when I had a drastic positive result from Chiropractic care: in 2011 I was in a Emergency Response Team bootcamp. During the swimming portion we were treading water for 30 minutes. Well, I don't swim that often, and my trapezius muscles and thoracic spine totally locked up, to the point I could not take full breaths. As you can imagine, this was very limiting and painful. I visited a Chiropractic office and he jackhammered my thoracic spine with his automatic activator clicker tool. Voila! I felt total release, and could breathe again!
physio- I have also been to multiple physio’s. I really liked Erl Pettman, who is now retired.
Erl was described to me as the “House” of the physio world, he is incredible and teaches around the world. In one visit he diagnosed my hip and developed a treatment plan that fixed my hip in a week. The same hip problem that the sport surgeon could not figure out. This was after 9 months of seeking Doctor advice, ultrasound, physiotherapy, laser, ART, chiropractic care, and a sport surgeon. All who could not properly diagnose it or fix it. ART gave temporary pain relief but did not cure my hip. ERl Pettman located the injury, knew exactly what happened and knew how to fix it. I have had this same scenario with other injuries as well over and over. Doctor doesn’t know what exactly to do, refers me to a physio who doesn’t quite know how to fix it, then I go to Erl and he fixed it immediately. Only downside with Erl: extremely busy, always running late appointment times, limited availability, and now he is retired. Physiotherapy can be helpful, I did have success with another Physio, and have heard great things about others. I would definitely try physiotherapy before going the surgery route. When I dislocated my shoulder in 2018, I did have success incorporating physio and Z health drills. Basically, the active part of physio worked for me, but I can't say I had success with the passive treatments like laser, electrotherapy, ultrasonic treatments.
I once had a shoulder issue in 2012, and because Erl was busy I had to go to another office and try to figure it out in the meantime. The guy gave me IMS needling treatment (similar to acupuncture) http://www.
activesportstherapy.ca/intra- muscular-stimulation/ , stretches, and exercise homework (over 1 hour of work per day). I did that religiously for weeks with no improvement. I saw Dr. Erl Pettman, and he gave me one theraband exercise, then I had immediate turn around. IMS is helpful for getting overactive muscle to loosen, but it does not fix the reason why that muscle tightened up and therefore it will probably tighten up again.
The only negative issue about physio is that most of the time, it focuses on the exact area of pain and injury site, and most of the time not the root cause or the reason it happens. Usually the pain shows up in an area because of other breakdowns. That is why I like Z health's method of diagnosing issues and giving drills to reprogram the brain.
Massage- I think it can be part of the solution to heal injuries, but not a stand alone treatment cure. Basically, it makes you feel nice but does not fix the root cause of an injury. It can disrupt the pain cycle and improve circulation, which can lead to increased healing. I had an shoulder injury from a care accident, and had massage done weekly on it for months with no improvement. A Chiropractor did one adjustment to my rib, and I had instant improvement, (this was the same injury that I went to physio to fix after a while). I still get massages here and there when I am run down, but it is only temporary relief for me. I also would get a massage for general circulation about a week or two prior to competing. I am sure massage has other intangible benefits, like circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids. But in terms of actually fixing a neurological issue, that is affecting how you move? I think you need to get to the root cause and fix that with some active treatment or some drills to retrain your brain. A muscle is just a lump of tissue, you need to ask: Why does my brain always tighten this muscle? It is because your brain is trying to protect or compensate for something going on? One example I can give, I had such a tight IT band that it felt like I had a charlie horse. I went to chiro and a 1 hour massage to try and get it loosened up to no avail. It was so sore and tight I could not squat. I saw a Z-Health trainer and after one drill, the tightness was instantly gone and I could squat! What?! Yup, it was the brain locking that up to protect itself from a threat. Once the threat was addressed....voila!
Naturopaths, Prolotherapy, Trigger point injections- Unfortunately I have not had any success in this area. Man, some prolotherapy shots are extremely painful, especially when you watch a 6" needle get jammed into your knee cap! I almost went through the roof! After the purposeful inflammation set in from the sugar water irritating the joint, I was almost immobilized for a few days. The theory is that the inflammation in the area will begin to initiate healing. For me, this did not happen. I did not get any tangible results. As in any field I did notice some doctors are better than others. Dr. Panet in Vancouver was extremely skilled in doing his prolotherapy injections. I did notice very little pain from his shots. It did give temporary relief, but not long term changes. They recommend 6 treatments. Some people get results, so don't be afraid to give it a try, just find a skilled Doc. I had trigger point injections from another Doctor over a period of months, very painful and I did not get the results I had hoped for.
Z-Health- I saved the best for last. Z-Health was a Russian system of mobilizing joints that essentially rewires your brain and nervous system. Simply put, it is magical and I have never experienced anything so rapid and effective. The downside: expensive depending on trainer, not covered by health insurance, requires ongoing assessment and changing, just like exercise. Basically, this is the system that makes you do the work to improve your mind and body. It is active care= means you are doing the work, not someone else massaging you or adjusting you while you lay there. The other downside is, once you correct one problem, it usually leads to another underlying issue that needs attention. To give you an example: I always had to get my hip/pelvis adjusted at the chiro and I always had pain in my SI joint. I saw Ted Kewin, and as soon as I did 1 foot drill the pain was instantly gone. I immediately felt different muscles in my leg working and moving my leg into different positions and I was not controlling it. Mind blowing! He gave me a drill for my torso and same thing, immediately I felt my shoulders and back moving without me consciously controlling it and 90% of my shoulder pain disappeared. That drill and the band exercises from Erl fixed my shoulder. Sometimes it is the simplest thing that can turn things around. So since seeing Ted in January 2015 I have had drastic improvements to the point of feeling cured in my SI joint, Shoulder, and ankle. Things I had chronic pain and chronic treatment on for years by massage, chiro, and physio. All that stuff for the most part was pain management but the Z-Health drills “cured me”, I use quotations because If I don’t do the drills for a day I can feel my old self creeping back. It is crazy. It also changed the way I walk. Very hard to believe but it works and I feel way better now. I have had to see Ted an additional 2x to add another drill for the changes that happen. I have used Ted for years now, and the latest issue he dramatically helped with was the healing process of a separated shoulder in 2019. It is amazing that I can do everything including clean and jerks, wrestling etc, without having surgery or any pain. He inspired me so much that I have began to do the Z-Health courses myself so I can help others. Check out the free intro course they offer: https://zhealtheducation.com/join-neurofundamentals/