Back in mid-June I mentioned that I had my first experience with a chiropractor. What initiated my trip to the chiro was an endo. The endo was a direct result of becoming a better technical rider on the mountain bike. This year I made an effort to improve my technical mountain bike skills, and I did. I can still improve more, but I made some headway.
As I improved technical skills, I should have been making equipment adjustments along the way. More specifically, I needed to run more air in my tires when doing trails that involved drops at higher speeds or larger drops. (No, I’m not catching air or hucking myself off of gnarly sections.)
I came off of a drop that was probably some 18 inches or so and the drop was part of a rocky section. My front tire belched some air out on the drop – which I didn’t notice at the time it happened. Not more than 50 yards later on the trail, I was going around a corner and my front tire slipped off the edge of the trail (normally a completely benign section of trail). When I tried to correct and get the tire back onto the trail, over the 1-inch lip, the squishy tire (low on air from the belch) caught the trail lip and promptly turned 90 degrees.
Over the handlebars I went, and I landed on my right scapula area – low on the scapula, including ribs. Dang.
Deciding I wasn’t hurt that bad, I continued the ride. Isn’t sharp pain in your ribcage area to be expected after a crash?
Later that day and into the next, I was sore. The worst of it was pain in my ribcage, mostly on the back but sometimes radiating around the front. This only happened when I sneezed, laughed (a huge problem as I like to laugh a lot – and often at myself), coughed or tried to roll over in bed. Breathing, thankfully, wasn’t an issue.
With a bike tour looming a mere 10 days away, I wanted to speed healing as quickly as possible. The shotgun approach wasn’t out of the question, so I decided on my first trip to a chiro (recommended action by a couple of friends), massage and my first trip to acupuncture (also recommended by friends).
I saw the chiro first, two days after the endo. He did an examination and asked if I had any pain in my left leg. I told him no, but I was considering lowering my road bike saddle because it felt like my left leg had more trouble reaching the pedals recently (well before the endo). He told me that there was an alignment issue that he could address with the adjustment. He also located the rib that was bothering me and said it wasn’t correctly aligned.
I was face down on the table, and he told me he would press on my spine in certain areas and I might hear or feel popping. The table beneath me would breakaway a small amount, limiting the range of adjustment motion.
I have to tell you, I absolutely hate the feeling and idea of someone making adjustments to my spine.
I didn’t feel any instant relief from the adjustment and in fact, that night I was more miserable than I was before the appointment. I was in more pain than before. Is it normal to be in so much pain after a chiro appointment?
My appointment was on a Friday and I took Saturday completely off of any endurance exercise. On Sunday I felt better and decided to go for a bike ride. Interestingly, the rib was not painful at all riding the bike – but any fast motions steering the bike, coughing, sneezing or laughing was still very painful.
Most interesting is that my left leg felt like it could easily reach the pedal and deliver power to the bike again. I nearly made adjustments to bike fit for what was a physical root cause.
When I returned for a follow-up appointment on Monday, I told the doctor that I could have strangled him on Friday night and Saturday as well. I asked if I should have expected so much pain after the adjustment.
He thought he had let me know that some people do experience more initial pain, but that pain should subside within a few days as the body heals and gets back to normal. Some people have instant relief from pain (I didn’t). Individual reactions to chiropractic treatments depend on the nature of the injury and the amount of time between the injury and the appointment.
The short answer is, yes some people do experience a good deal of pain after a chiro appointment, but not everyone does.
Next blog, acupuncture.
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