If at first you don’t succeed try try again – right?
After dealing with another bout of ITBS since August 2013 and trying everything from cortisone, to rest, to massage, to yelling at my IT band to get it’s shit together AND clearing an MRI – I decided it was time to seek alternative methods.
I reached out to Sports Massage Therapist, Danielle De Maio, who I had seen in the past (thanks to Dori’s recommendation). Danielle works with serious athlete’s everyday and has probably seen more hurt IT bands than I could count on my fingers and toes, so I figured she may have some insight. To be transparent, her initial recommendation was that I stop doing any activity (strength training, biking, running) for an extended period of time. Honestly, this is not and was not an option for me – I could live exercising in pain, I could not live without exercising. Exercise is my natural medicine – I’d have to replace exercise with sleep meds to go to sleep, caffeine to stay awake and probably some prozac during the winter months – overall, not worth it. Her second recommendation was that I go to see Mark Thompson, Sports Acupuncturist. You can read Mark’s bio here, but to give you the short version, he’s a PT turned Acupuncturist.
Slightly skeptical, but also hopeful and willing to try anything, I gave Mark’s office a call and scheduled an appointment. His staff was extremely friendly and helpful – they called my insurance to figure out what the cost to me would be and informed me that each appointment would last about 1.5 hours.
I’ve been to acupuncture a couple of times before, but my experience with Mark was completely different than anything I had experienced. Our session started with Mark asking me about my injury, how long it has lasted, what effects it, etc. Before he even placed a needle in me, he took time to check my hip alignment and thoroughly examine my feet and how I stand. I was impressed.
Next he had me lay down on the acupuncture table and kneaded around my IT band, knee, thigh and calves to see exactly where the tightness was stemming from. He also performed some simple strength tests to check my glute and hip strength.
The prognosis: The tightness in my thigh was strongly contributing to the ITB tightness; My ITB issue is NOT due to weak glutes/hips, or flexibility – HALLELUJA!!! When he mentioned this, I knew right away I trusted him. I was getting extremely frustrated of people telling me ITBS was due to glute strength and flexibility without even testing me. I may not be a doctor, but I’m also not completely delusional – I know I may not be the strongest person in the world, but I am strong….and I can’t stretch at the gym without some strangter going “wow” and asking me about how I got so flexible. So yeah, when people tell me I need to stretch my ITB, I want to scratch their eyes out.
Essentially Mark said that I just had a very tricky IT band that needed some serious loosening, beyond the ability of even the toughest foam roller. For my knee, however, he noted that I need to strengthen the inside of my knee and showed me some exercises I can do at home
…At this point I’m forgetting, was this a PT appointment, or acupuncture??
Oh right – so we’re talking about acupuncture here. After the thorough “inspection” and diagnosis came the needles. As I mentioned, I’ve been to acupuncture before and it was completely painless so I was all set for a nice little nap. Boy was I surprise — this type of acupuncture was not for those sensitive to pain. He placed a heat lamp over my leg and started by performing deep tissue style massage on the effected leg. Next he pinpointed trouble spots in my muscles and took the acupuncture needles and started to slowly dig them into my leg, removing the needle right away. SHIT did that hurt. After about 20mins of this intense needle technique, he did the more standard acupuncture technique of placing the needle and letting it sit. Mark also hooked up an e-stim machine to one of the needles right around my knee at a very low setting. He then left the room to let it sit for 20min. At this point, I actually did fall asleep. The room was so cozy and warm and I was laying in the most comfortable position on my side with comfy pillows between my legs and arms.
When Mark came back in the room, he removed the needles and started all over again. When it was all done he mentioned that I will be sore and should not exercise for 24hrs. When I stood up and tried to walk, I understood what he meant. I could barely hobble myself down the subway steps to make it home! The next morning I had some bruises and was still super sore, but could walk normally:
I went by to Mark 2 more times (each session lasted the full 1.5 hrs) and last weekend I successfully ran 3 miles out side with ZERO pain!!!! I’m not going to be overzealous and say “I’m healed,” but I’m on my way.
Would I recommend seeing Mark? DEFINITELY!!! He truly impressed me with his knowledge, thoroughness and his willingness to answer all of my questions thoughtfully. Did I mention he’s also a really friendly, laid back guy? Obviously acupuncture isn’t going to heal everything, but if you have an injury that requires some loosening up, you get the best of both a PT and acupuncturist with Mark Thompson.
QUESTIONS!??? Have you tried Acupuncture, or any type of alternative medicine to heal??