These non-traditional therapies may help you get healthier, faster.
Whether they’re hobbling along mid-workout with a tight hamstring, stuck spinning on a stationary bike or sitting on the couch desperately willing a stress fracture to heal faster, injured runners are desperate for a treatment — or at least enough relief so they can run.
Runners should consult a qualified medical professional when they feel acute pain. But even an official diagnosis in science-based Western health care may not satiate the injured runner — especially when a traditional treatment plan (“Stop running!”) is prescribed. That’s often when the running wounded turn to alternative practitioners for answers.
“We’re either the first people they see, because they’ve been referred to us by their coach,” says Ken Sheridan, a chiropractic sports physician in Denver, Colo., “or we see them last. They’ve been to every doctor they can go to. They’ve already tried the two PT visits they’re given. They’ve tried the exercise sheets and it still doesn’t work.”
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From acupuncture to myofascial manipulation, alternative treatments for common running injuries abound. In fact, nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults seek a wide range of treatments in complementary and alternative medicine outside of conventional care. These treatments often overlap, as chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists and acupuncturists often employ similar techniques, such as joint manipulation, massage or trigger-point therapy.
“Just because there are so many approaches, it doesn’t mean that any one is wrong. However, they may be applied at the wrong time, or not enough,” says Sheridan, who’s been treating runners for 16 years. He promotes a holistic approach, not favoring one treatment over another. “If all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”
Here’s the lowdown on four popular alternative treatments — just in case you’re among the 50 percent of recreational runners who will get hurt this year.