Why the Bend and Snap Works Everytime: My First Chiropractor Experience
I'm pretty obnoxious when it comes to cracking my knuckles, but the thought of letting a stranger snap, crackle, pop my body into place has never been high on my to-do. 'Cus let's be honest: chiropractors haven't been getting the best rep lately: especially when the infamous story of a Playboy bunny's death started circulating a few months ago. The world started questioning if this $15 billion dollar practice is all that it's cracked up to be (no pun intended 😂). That's why after 20+ years of playing competitive sports, I can admit that I've never visited a chiropractor before. But considering I'm one week out from the SF Half Marathon and 4 weeks away from the Lululemon Seawheeze Half, and my old lady knees are creaking louder than ever, I decided that one of those famed full-body adjustments could really do me some good. So I called up GreenApple Sports & Wellness, one of the most reputable sports chiropractors in the Charlotte area, and scheduled an appointment.
I'm sure you can understand why my nerves were flying around like a bat out of hell when I walked into Dr. Goodman's office. I even admitted to his assistant that I was shaking in my boots about the appointment, but she kindly reassured me that I was in good hands.
When Dr. Goodman entered the room, I was immediately taken aback by how good looking he is (lol, because tell me I'm not the only one who assumes all of my doctors are going to be white-haired old men in lab coats?) Then he greeted me with a charming Southern accent and immediately began asking about the issues that brought me in today. He asked me all kinds of questions about my pains: where they are, what caused them, when I got them, the intensity of pain, etc. He was jotting down notes left and right before he finally looked up and told me it was my turn to do some work.
First off, he wanted to see how I move, so he challenged me to do a squat. I confidently stepped up to the plate and dropped down in a crouch that I thought would make Jen Selter proud. However, when I looked up for his reaction, I was seriously shocked to hear that my form was flawed. Dr. Goodman kindly told me that I have some mobility issues, and even though squats are supposed to be a glute-powered exercise, I primarily use my quads. AKA, that's a huge red flag that something's off down there.
So we set my muscles on fire.
To get to the bottom of things, Dr. Goodman pretty much bent my legs in every direction they could go, and then proceeded with a little experiment he called "muscle testing". He informed me that testing a muscle's ability to "fire" is very important for athletes, because it checks to make sure each muscle is doing its job properly. When one muscle isn’t pulling it's weight, your brain will recruit other muscles to get the job done, which can create dysfunction and will lead to pain.
So to test my muscle firing, he would place his hand against a certain part of my leg, then I would breathe in, breathe out, and on my exhale I would try to resist the opposing pressure of his hand. Unfortunately this exercise requires a good bit of coordination, and given that I'm as coordinated as Kim Kardashian in dancing shoes, I definitely screwed this up a couple of times. But either way, we discovered that I had some lousy quad muscles (no surprise there) and a questionable abdomen.
Dr. Goodman: part detective, part David Blaine.
Therefore to right these wrongs, Dr. Goodman had to do a little detective work to find the “facilitators”, or the muscles who were offering a lending hand to my weak spots. Basically, if one of my weak muscles acted stronger when he applied pressure to another muscle that he believed was facilitating, then we found our culprit.
Then to nip these buggers in the bud, Dr. Goodman proceeded with something called "ART", or active release technique, which is a quick way to release muscles. Basically it felt like a really tough-love massage, where the doctor kneads the heck out of these facilitator muscles, which causes them to relax and stop overworking. It hurt, yes, but it was a John Mellancamp kind of hurt. Not to mention how effective it was: as soon as we massaged out all of my trouble spots, we retested my muscles, and they were ASTONISHINGLY stronger this time around! Like, Dr. Goodman could've pulled a rabbit out of a hat and I wouldn't have as impressed. It was pure magic.
I'm on the road to recovery.
Even though I felt like a million bucks after Dr. Goodman twisted and tweaked me into shape, he reminded me that these fixes are only temporary. Now it's up to me to develop the proper muscle memory in my body to avoid having these pains again. So for homework, he took me to their rehab room, where I met Michael, who handles their functional rehabilitation/physical therapy (...once again, total dreamboat.) Michael walked me through some easy exercises I could do at home to strengthen both my core and my quads that would only take about 10 minutes a day. Obvi I had to snap some pics during his demos (you know, just for research purposes...😉)
And since Dr. Goodman made it clear that my squat needed work, Michael asked me to demonstrate that notorious squat before I left. So I dropped down once again, but this time with some bright red cheeks. Fortunately Michael held in his giggles, and stepped beside me to show me how its done. He told me that I was leaning far too forward rather than sitting back into the proper position, and he suggested that using a weighted medicine ball or holding on to a pole would help me keep my chest upright and distribute my weight better.
And the fact that he let me snap more pics of him in action, made it clear that he didn't want me lookin' like a fool in the gym ever again. And for that, I am eternally grateful.🙏
It was definitely a hands-on experience.
In greek, the word "chiropractic" means "healing with the hands". So if you've never been to the chiropractor before, you should understand that you're going to be touched. By a stranger. And sure, it's going to be a little weird and uncomfortable at first. But know that your doctor is simply there to right the wrongs in your body. They are trying to make you feel more comfortable in the long run, so a few minutes of discomfort is totally worth it to make that happen. (And trust me, you'll forget all about that awkwardness when your doc is easy on the eyes. 😉 )
Only you can prevent a shin splint.
One important takeaway I learned from the team is that prevention is key. Everyone's bodies get out of whack at some point or another, but as runners, we put more demand on our bodies, which can lead to more dysfunction. So by regularly visiting your chiropractor (every 1-2 months), you can correct anything that is slippin' or slidin' out of place. Because as Dr. Goodman says, "Just like your car or teeth, it is much easier to maintain proper function than it is to go back and try to fix something once it becomes broken."
And if you are already dealing with an injury, don't try to self-diagnose it or simply ride out the pain. The GreenApple team treats all kinds of injuries (like runner's knee, plantar fasciitis, shin splits, etc.) on the regular, so I guarantee they will heal you in at least half the time you think you can fix it yourself. Always go to a pro who knows what's up.
They don't call 'em the best for nothin'.
GreenApple is one of the most renowned chiropractors in the Charlotte area for a reason. I mean, just look at their wall-sized photo album of clients from past and present. They've worked with practically everyone, and they're trusted by some seriously incredible athletes. And after stopping by for just one visit, I totally understand why. These guys aren't your typical chiropractors. You don't just come in to their office, get a crack and leave. Instead, you get a 360-degree analysis, followed by a comprehensive plan to get you up and running again.
I swear, I've seen these guys at every local Charlotte race I've ever run. And every time I spot their famed black tent, there's at least five people waiting in line for a free adjustment. I think their involvement shows how much they love their community, their sport, and their practice. So if you're ever feeling a little off or just want to keep your body moving the way it's supposed to, count on GreenApple. They've got your back.