If you’re like many Chicagoans, one of your goals is to run AND complete the Chicago Marathon. Every year nearly 30,000 people line up at the start line to compete in the marathon. The real question is how many were unable to start because the rigors of training were too much for their bodies to handle? Marathon training is a progressive endeavor, each week building upon the last until the final weeks where multiple long runs prepare your body for the “real thing.” After the long runs, there are a couple weeks to taper and recover and you’re off to do the real thing.
Time and time again, our office sees countless people who have had to stop their training due to back or knee pain. The number of steps required to complete a marathon is around 22,968 steps, give or take a few if you happen to be taller or shorter. The most common cause of injury for marathon trainers is repetitive stress. If your body happens to be perfectly symmetrical and balanced, you are much less likely to be injured. By the same token, imbalances or asymmetry in your body will increase your chances of getting injured astronomically. Many of the common injuries associated with marathon training CAN be reduced or even eliminated. Investing your time and effort to train is no small commitment, getting derailed and throwing it all away because of a simple, undetected problem is unnecessary.
As many athletes who have visited our office can attest, phyxMe Physical Therapy has a gift for being able to help athletes achieve higher and higher levels of performance. We have the tools and technology to get runners and athletes back to training and can make certain you don’t miss the chance to compete and complete your race! Dr. Jacobazzi is extremely familiar with injuries due to increased training volumes. As a collegiate athlete, he saw a repeating pattern during his years on the Auburn University Track and Field team. Early in the season, he was relatively injury and pain-free, at least as much as is possible with high level training similar to the marathon training you have undertaken. Mid-season, the aches and pains started to come more frequently and at a higher level. By the end of the season, he was starting to break down, had to miss meets and sit out to recover. It was this experience of missing out on the chance to do his best that inspired him to pursue a career in physical medicine.
Physical medicine is exactly what it sounds like, using physical treatments to restore a body to health and wellness. Even at a young age, Dr. Jacobazzi realized that pills and medications were only a temporary solution and would actually lead to more serious problems down the road because he had experienced the effects first hand. He realized using Advil, Aleve or stronger drugs would allow him to train longer but the underlying injuries would eventually catch up to him and require even more attention and effort to resolve. All athletes, not just marathoners, need to be certain their entire musculoskeletal system is in balance. Your joints, muscles, ligaments and bones must work in balance to most effectively propel you forward and avoid injury.
By balancing both physical therapy and chiropractic protocols, Dr. Jacobazzi is able to restore functional stability by balancing the function of all these areas in your musculoskeletal system. As the only healthcare professional in Illinois to be licensed as both a physical therapist and a chiropractor, Dr. Jacobazzi has a unique understanding of what it takes to get your body back from the edge of DNR (Did Not Race) and towards being a FINISHER. His personal experience as an athlete for over 20 years and professional experience as a physical medicine specialist for just as long play a key role in helping his patients find their way back to health.
Getting rid of pain is easy; keeping it away is the hard part. It becomes even harder when you throw marathon training into the mix. Any successful treatment program must have three basic components: restoration of normal movement, neuromuscular (NMR) reprogramming and specific strengthening. Any program failing to address all three areas won’t give you the results you need. Restoration of normal movement is necessary because of the scar tissue and adhesions caused by abnormal movement. These adhesions and scar tissue limit your motion, reduce your flexibility and actually slow you down. These same injuries also INCREASE the chances you will be re-injured. If you skip this important first step, you are only delaying your time to total breakdown not preventing it. Neuromuscular programming can only occur AFTER normal movement has been restored to your body.
If you begin NMR reprogramming before normal movement has been restored, your body will learn compensated motor movement. Compensated motor movements MAY be sustainable for a short period of time but, your body will only tolerate them for so long before NEW problems occur and your inevitable breakdown occurs. Follow the proper order of treatment progression, not only do you decrease pain, restore movement and improve the success of the NMR programming, you prepare your body to exit treatment at a higher level of performance than you enter.
It is very common for our patients to tolerate training at higher levels and intensities after completing their treatment program because their body “knows” how to move correctly, moves more easily and has more stability. Stability occurs in the last phase of treatment, the specific strengthening phase (SS phase). The SS phase develops the core muscles responsible for controlling the lower kinetic chain: lumbar spine, hips, knees, feet and ankles. Using exercises specifically tailored to the imbalances found during your initial evaluation, your body will be forced to adapt and improve. Sometimes this process is easy and sometimes it’s hard. But, the end result is always the same, our patient athletes tell us the long runs seem easier and their movement seems less taxing as we near the end of their treatment program.
It is not uncommon for patients to reduce their training volume during the initial phases of treatment and it’s VERY common for these same patients to let us know their PRs drop within a few weeks after being back to training full time. Dr. Jacobazzi’s favorite words are “I can’t believe how easy it feels for me now” and it’s something he gets to hear quite often. Recently, a half Ironman triathlete who had been completely OFF running due to severe knee pain from mid-December to mid-March PRd in a 10K training run 3 days after completing his treatment program, this level of result is common. Can Dr. Jacobazzi turn you into a world-class athlete? Probably not BUT, he can turn you into the best athlete you can possibly be. The only thing worse than not being able to compete is not being able to give your best effort because of an injury. It’s admirable to power through your race even if you’re hurt, it’s even better to give your best effort and have fun doing it without having to worry about permanently damaging your body.
Using his unique kinetic chain evaluation, Dr. Jacobazzi will examine both the soft tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) and hard tissue (bones and joints) to find the structural imbalances which your body to work harder than necessary and increase your risk of injury now and in the future. The injuries sustained by marathoners are musculoskeletal in origin. The kinetic chain evaluation looks at both sides of the equation.
A standard physical therapist can only address the soft tissue problems occurring in your body and a chiropractor is only able to address the skeletal (joint component). Dr. Jacobazzi has a unique perspective due to his professional training and will be able to tell you exactly what’s wrong and, most importantly, exactly what you need to correct it. Half the solution will only yield half the result, at best.
If you are experiencing aches and pains now, don’t wait. If you AREN’T experiencing aches and pain, don’t wait until you are! Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’ve missed your chance. Get the best possible solution for your body and make certain you don’t miss out on your chance to give your best effort on race day. A call to phyxMe Physical Therapy will be the best investment you can make in your marathon training program. Call us today and find out what’s been missing.