Structural Correction for Runners: Timing is Everything
Runners ask us some variation of this question all the time: “I have a big race coming up. Should I start my initial phase of care now, or wait until training is over and the race is done?” Since no two runners are the same, allow us to present a decision-making guide that you can apply to your current situation.
First, let’s address some pros and cons to starting your initial phase of care before your event. Keep in mind that the goal of your initial phase of care is to correct underlying structural shifts, returning the structure of your spine to normal, and teaching your body how to keep it there. During this process, your body undergoes changes in biomechanics that will result in movement patterns that may feel foreign to you at first. For this reason, we often recommend that if you are very close to racing and are trying to set a PR or qualify for an event, you might want to consider waiting until after your next race to get started on your initial phase of care. Hours and hours of preparation go into your training and your body gets used to moving a certain way. Changing that too close to a race could result in discomfort or timing issues - the last thing you want to experience in pursuit of a PR or a qualification. Just like you wouldn’t change your shoes right before a race - even if the new shoes in question are the BEST shoes on the market for runners - in many cases we recommend waiting until after the big event to start your initial phase of care. On the other hand, as with any other patient, many runners choose to seek our care when they start to experience pain or when they find themselves on the verge of an injury. Since the process of structural correction takes time, if you’re noticing these signs at the beginning of a training cycle, it would likely be in your best interest to make an appointment as soon as possible in order to get a head start on the correction process and increase your chances of completing your training cycle and race injury-free. Obviously injuries that occur within the week or two prior to race day will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the best route for optimal recovery and ideally making your race day goals - while still reducing the risk of long-term injury. So to summarize, here’s a simple formula for determining the best time to schedule your appointment and start your initial phase of care:
No pain/injury + Early in a training cycle = Schedule your consult and exam ASAP.
Pain/injury + Early in a training cycle = Schedule your consult and exam ASAP.
No pain/injury + Late in a training cycle + PR/qualification attempt = Schedule consult for before race and exam for after race.
No pain/injury + Late in a training cycle + NO PR/qualification attempt = Schedule your consult and exam for before OR after race.
Pain/injury + Late in a training cycle + With or without PR/qualification attempt = Schedule your consult for before your race to determine your best course of action
To schedule your consult, click here, and select the appropriate date, based on your results from the formula above.