I ended 2013 with my strongest marathon in nearly ten years, and for the first time felt as though I could have gone farther, much farther. I was excited and registered for an ultra-marathon on January 4th, optimistic that I could easily finish a 50K. And then, like an idiot, I ran in the snow in late December, slipped on the ice and injured something in my groin or hip.

I sat in an orthopedic surgeon’s office on Monday morning and listened to him tell me that X-rays revealed no damage and to schedule an MRI. “So what do you think it is, Doc?” I asked.

“Sounds like a muscle tear.”

“What would be my options if it is?”

“Surgery. Three-four months of rehab.”

“How about letting it heal naturally?”

“Maybe if you were younger, but I wouldn’t recommend it at your age.”

My head spun. I visited a chiropractor that night recommended by my son. The woman chiropractor, who is also an MD, is the first doctor to ever give my son relief from chronic back pain. She manipulated and adjusted me, and hooked me up to a TENs machine which sends electrical pulses through the injured area opening nerve passageways and aiding the healing process. I am hooked up to a portable TENs as I write this post. I went for two follow-up visits and am walking normally and pain-free for the first time in a month. She encouraged me to continue my yoga.

The way I look at it, I have two options–surgery and rehab or continue with the chiropractor and mend naturally. Either way I figure it will be three to four months before I’m fully recovered. Five days ago I sat in an orthopedic doctor’s office listening to him talk about possible surgery. After three visits to the chiropractor I have full range of motion, am walking without a limp and am pain-free. So it comes down to a decision whether to subject my body to invasive surgery or mend naturally. At the moment I’m leaning toward the natural process.

I’m no health care professional and don’t profess to be; therefore, I would never offer medical advice or recommend one method of healing over another. I’m simply a lifetime runner and marathoner who has had three knee surgeries and run tens of thousands of miles.  I plan to be active until they put me in a box and plant me in the ground. At this stage of my life I go with what works, and my chiropractor is working miracles. I’m optimistic I’ll be back on the trail again without invasive surgery. And I’m thinking that first ultra-marathon will happen before the end of 2014.


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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19 Responses to Mending

  1. aaronwest says:

    Hey Jim, I meant to respond to your Baby Steps post, but I don’t see it any longer. I hope this method is still working for you. Just curious, where did your doctor say you’d need surgery? We might have similar conditions. Take it from me, don’t push the hip and groin too much.


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Aaron, I accidentally his publish on Baby Steps before I was finished the post. I plan to post sometime today. Nevertheless, thanks for the advice. I ran for the first time on Monday and have begun weight training with squats and stair climbing. I continue my yoga routine roughly four-five times each week. Believe me, after three knee surgeries and reading what you’ve been through, I am being uncharacteristically careful. I have a chiropractor appointment this afternoon and plan to take another short, slow run tomorrow. I am actually taking Baby Steps. Again, thanks! And good luck to you with your surgery. I hope you have a full and speedy recovery.


      • aaronwest says:

        Ahh, itchy trigger finger. I’ve done that before. There are a number of good stretches you can do with the hip/groin area. If you still have trouble, you might find those will help before a run. Glad to hear that alternate methods are working for you.


  2. LB says:

    So glad that non-invasive way is working! Just be careful to not overdo. It may be better than surgery, but healing is still required! Listen to your body and don’t push it out of impatience.
    Good to hear an update, Jim!


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thanks for the reminder, LB, and it’s well-taken. I overdid it yesterday, walking too briskly up long inclines. Fortunately, I didn’t damage anything, but I felt the tinge that reminded me not to be a knucklehead and get over-anxious. Again, thank you! jim


  3. Best of luck with the recovery, Jim!


  4. gorunjess says:

    Good luck Jim! I’m healing myself-physical therapy and ultrasound/TENs machine therapy. Determined to get back out there soon. I appreciate your approach-surgery is always my last wish.


  5. I hope the natural way continues to work!! I had a calf muscle tear when I was about 40 and had a similar treatment. It worked! I was back running after the therapy sessions ended.


  6. Mark says:

    Best wishes with your recovery! Me thinks (and I’m no health care professional either, as you know) the natural mend is the way to go. Any surgery can have complications. Unless surgery is absolutely necessary, I’d play it safe with the chiropractor. Good Luck!


  7. PaulSmuts says:

    Every runners body responds differently to treatment and it seems the natural process is working for you. Either way I hope you recover quickly and will be running normally again soon.


  8. Beth says:

    Good luck Jim!!!


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