A tall, strapping man named Ron periodically puts all his weight on me and cracks my back. I pay him to do this. I go out of my way to see him.
This guy is the reason I ran a 1:25 at the Cowtown Half Marathon earlier this month.
This is the guy who is keeping me on pace during my marathon training.
This is the guy who, thankfully, takes my insurance plan.
I'm talking about my chiropractor, Dr. Ron Rudometkin, who practices in East Sac. The man has done wonders helping me heal from a back injury - the dreaded, yet little-hyped sacroiliac joint dysfunction - that sidelined me for nine weeks this summer after I did the Dipsea Race.
Had you asked me two months ago if I would recommend chiropractic care, I would've been a little wary and told you to try more traditional means. But after about eight torture treatments - uh, "adjustments" is what they call them - I not only was back running but able to steadily build my mileage back up to 50-plus per week.
Now, I can't give Dr. Ron credit for everything. I had excellent care from my physical therapist, Janice Daniels, to get my back to the point where there was hope of resuming. And my UCD sports medicine orthopedist, Dr. Gina Lokna, gave me a choice of treatment options.
In fact, in an unusual circumstance, it was Lokna who first suggested back in late May that I might consider a chiropractor for the SI joint. At that point, I basically blew her off, saying I really didn't trust "those guys." I asked her, "Would you use one if your back was hurt?" She smiled and said, "They have been known to help."
Only after five weeks of intense physical therapy, where I reached a plateau of not getting better but not getting worse, did Daniels, my physical therapist, suggest I try a chiropractor.
"I recommend Ron Rudometkin," she says. "You know, he's Gina Lokna's husband. He sees a lot of runners."
Man, was I embarrassed. Here I was bad-mouthing chiropractors to an orthopedist - knowing that, traditionally, ortho docs look down on chiros - and it turns out the two are married.
Well, when I went back to my follow-up visit with Dr. Lokna, I told her I'd like to try more aggressive treatment. She mentioned a cortisone injection as one option, and I brought up chiropractors. I figured the best way to broach my previous faux pas would be to make light of it.
"I hear there's this guy named Ron who's pretty good," I said.
Dr. Lokna laughed.
"I didn't realize you were married to a chiropractor," I added. "I feel really sheepish. I always thought all doctors looked down on them."
"Not so much anymore," Lokna said. "We (doctors) realize we can't solve every case, so alternative therapies like chiropractors or acupuncture sometimes helps patients."
Lokna and I agreed that I'd take an oral corticosteroid for two weeks and try three appointments with the chiropractor. If that didn't help, a cortisone injection was next.
Within a week, I was running with no pain. Within two weeks, I completed a sprint triathlon in Pleasanton (I had been cross training by biking and swimming during the period I couldn't run). Within six weeks, I came within 40 seconds of setting a PR in the half marathon.
"It's all mechanical, Sam," Dr. Rudometkin said. "I'm just adjusting your mechanics."
Because I'm feeling better and have my hips back in alignment - and still doing the regimen of core and glute exercises Daniels prescribed - I now only see Dr. Rudometkin about once every couple of weeks for what I call a tuneup.
I last went on Monday morning, following my 23-mile training run. The appointment took all of 45 seconds; then he put me in traction for 10 minutes. Then I was on my way.
I won't bore you in this post about the heartbreak of sacroiliac injuries, which hardly ever show up in books of running injuries or even on the Web. I'll save that tale (tail?) of woe for a later date.