For competitive marathoners, ultra runners, triathletes and weekend warriors... running race season is in full swing! With Spartan U.S. National Series in Florida and Grit OCR in Southern California, runners everywhere are putting their training to the test this weekend. Before you hit the start line and after you cross that finish line, an athlete must properly taper and recover. That means: adjustments! Having the right chiropractor is just as vital as running in the proper running shoes and race apparel.
With so many of our weekend warrior and running enthusiast readers in the greater Los Angeles area, I decided to sit down with Dr. Richard Stewart; also known as The Los Angeles Back Doctor!
One of the best in his field, Dr. Stewart started out in the world of physical therapy. With a Bachelor's in Human Biology and a Doctorate of Chiropractic (DC), he has wonderful bedside manner. As soon as you walk into his office, his staff and Dr. Stewart himself welcome you with a warm smile.
His passion for healing started at a young age.
"I have always been amazed at the resilience of the human body. At a young age I was hit by a car and spent nine weeks in a hospital with my leg in traction, followed by an additional eight weeks in a body cast, waist down to toes. Most people do not remember taking their first step, for others it is a very vivid memory. I made a full recovery only to push myself as young man and have several more injuries," Dr. Stewart said.
Later on, he joined the U.S. Army. "I really learned just how strong the human body is. With the right training and motivation we would carry ninety pounds of gear twenty miles with minimal sleep and very little recovery before the next hump. We did this powered by bad food, caffeine, and other poor decisions. It amazes me how our bodies are supposed to be a temple yet we treat it like a Carnival fun-house and it keeps going," he said.
As soon as Dr. Stewart got out of the Army, he knew he wanted to be a healer. "I wanted to help people recover from injuries and achieve their individual goals," he added.
When I met with Dr. Stewart, it was just before my Spartan 10k Trail Race. He properly adjusted me from head to toe - and whatever he did to my ankle... did wonders! I finished 1st Place! To help my fellow runners, I asked him a few questions:
Compared to other chiropractors, how do you approach the field and how do you think the way that you practice sets you a part from others?
Time and attention. Most offices will have therapists who work on the patient first. The Chiropractor does not spend very much time with the patient. I do the therapies myself. It gives me more time to find out what my patients goals are. Some are athletes, who who want to complete an iron-man, others just want to get out of pain and get a good nights sleep for a change. Every patient is an individual and treatments need to be adjusted for that individual, healthcare should never be cookie cutter, one size will never work for everyone.
I am also honest. I do not like to use the machines, all of my therapy is done with my hands. A lot of muscle work and stretches, this prep work allows the adjustments to be easier to do and more effective. I do my best with every visit to help as much as possible. I do not try to sell packages for treatments or scare people into coming in more then they need to.
How often do you recommend that the average person visits the chiropractor?
For the average person once a month is usually good. There will be times when life catches up to you and there are more aches and pains, when this happens a good Chiropractor can be very beneficial. Chronic pain will easily interfere with an individuals quality of life and make it spiral downhill very quickly. When this happens I leave frequency up to patient, they know their body better then I do, so I listen and do my best to help.
For runners, how often do you recommend they visit the chiropractor?
When before a race? Three days before a race is my recommendation. That treatment will be light. Mild stretches and muscle work. Adjustments will be done for conditions I have been treating for. If you are a new patient the treatment is different before a race. Stretches and muscle work will be the same, but adjustments need to be very carefully considered. I have had runners come to me a week before running the Los Angeles Marathon. I did muscle work and adjusted the midback and neck. Ankles and hips points of heavy impact I do not like to adjust before a big race on new patients. If they know they can complete the race feeling how they do at that time I do not want to do anything that could possibly jeopardize their chance of completing the race.
When after a race? Within a day or two. At this point the body is recovering and it is the best opportunity to set everything right structurally, so the body recovers properly. This makes things more stable in the long run.
Should runners have their ankle's regularly looked at?
Yes. For runners ankles are a major issues. I worked in gyms for several years, the ankles are very overlooked. Adjustments and stability exercises are a necessity for any athlete.
Tell me about your thoughts on technology - sitting at computers, slouching over your phone - is impacting people. Have you noticed a drastic change in patients young and old over the years with the rise of Instagram, etc.?
Low back pain was stressed while I was in school as being the prominent condition I would be treating, this has changed, 80% of patients come see me for neck, upper back, shoulders, and wrist / hand issues. Technology has fundamentally changed how we interact with one another and our physical structure.
I teach Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, and Pathology at a university on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I realized just drastic technology has changed us when I put the students on break. I always come back to class and it is quite, students are not really talking to each other, they are all hunched over their phones, They look like boiled shrimp, very intelligent boiled shrimp.
We are constantly looking down. Head forward, shoulders rolled forward and back curled. Even with a standing desk we look like like boiled shrimp with legs. This constant position becomes the normal and the body adapts to it. This increases the amount of aches and pains, and even interferes with the ability to expand the chest and take a deep breath.
My biggest concern is with people walking while looking down at their phones. The downward force of the head on the neck is focused right on the front edge of the cervical vertebra with each step. This is leading to a breakdown of the disc between each vertebrae. I am seeing degenerative joint disease in patients in their thirties, this should not happen until their sixties. Please look up when you walk.
Do you think that regular adjustments aid in helping stress/anxiety for those with tighter shoulders/backs, etc.?
Of course. The modern world has put so much more stress and challenges on us, it will physically take a toll. Going to see your Chiropractic should be relaxing and enjoyable. With the right therapy, a good adjustment, and some maintenance exercises, the tight muscles and pain should subside. It is always good to know there is place to go where you are important and matter, a place to relax and feel better.
I highly recommend paying a visit to Dr. Stewart! It's not everyday that you meet a doctor who is attentive and open to sharing their knowledge!
To book your appointment:
9001 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 204
Beverly Hills, CA 90211