Because my neck pain wasn’t improving on Tuesday, I decided to see a chiropractor to make sure I didn’t do any serious damage. There’s something different about hurting your neck than any other part of the body and I was starting to get anxious. I also think looking up neck injuries on WebMD was making me overly paranoid…I don’t recommend doing that.
Luckily my friend Pam was able to recommend a local chiropractor that she has been seeing who has helped her improve her running, and I was able to get an appointment that afternoon. He started by checking my vitals and reflexes, then did some neurological tests to make sure there weren’t any other issues that this pain was causing. All seemed fine. He then felt the left side of my neck where the pain is centralized and immediately said it was VERY tender, and boy that hurt to have him pushing around! Before doing any adjustments, he wanted me to get x-rays to see exactly what was going on.
So Wednesday, I got up bright and early to get x-rays taken and returned to the office that evening for the news…the news that my cervical spine (neck) is all sorts of messed up! Take a look:
A normal cervical spine has a natural curve to it as seen in the photo on the left. This keeps the head properly balanced and helps maintain good posture. My cervical spine has no curve to it…lovely. The lack of a curve pushes my head down and has the muscles in the back of my neck constantly engaged which puts stress on that area.
Now take a look at this awesome image of my neck from straight on…can you say crooked?!?
Seriously, it looks like my neck is about to pop off my body! And look how much higher my right shoulder is from my left. I’m just a hot mess. All of this is most likely an underlying issue that was exacerbated by my injury on Monday, so in a way I can look at this injury as a good thing. I wouldn’t have gotten this checked out otherwise.
I’ve gone for two adjustments so far and I’m already starting to feel better. Hopefully with a few more and some rest I will be good as new. Once the acute problem of my neck pain is under control, I will begin to work on my posture and evening my shoulders out. In the long run, this will make me a better runner as I will use my body more efficiently. Now that I something I’m looking forward too! Sadly, CrossFit might be on hold for me for a while, but I would really like to keep at it since it is the one cross training program I actually enjoy. I just need to stop pushing myself so hard!
Have you fixed your posture to make you a more efficient runner?