I put my headphones on…bad sign. I told PJ that when we trained together for our upcoming marathon our runs could be a great time to “connect.” However, the knee pain I was beginning to experience with each stride was too much, and we still had 10 miles to go. I had to resort to “I Will Survive” on my iPod. Training can be so frustrating. I had gotten all the way to my longest run, and a reoccurring past injury called “IT band syndrome” reminded me that it could still stop me in my tracks. As soon as I got home, I got online to research my knee pain, and as I suspected the advice was…rest. Recovery from this type of injury could take weeks or months of no running. I wasn’t giving up so easily. The day before, I met with one of my client-athletes for a nutrition consultation, and she mentioned to me that she had tried acupuncture for her over-training issue called plantar fasciitis. After years of this problem, she said that acupuncture was the only thing that had done the trick. That conversation rung in my head, and it didn’t take long for me to get her acupuncturist’s (Christine) number. I was in Christine’s office that next Monday morning, describing to her where I hurt. I was new to acupuncture but actually wasn’t too worried. Her calming office and soothing music made it seem like I was going in for a massage. As I filled out my medical history form, I had to identify on a drawing where my pain was located. After circling about 20 different areas on my legs and feet, I asked Christine, “Are all your clients this hypochondriac-like?” She assured me I was normal. After discussing my aches and pains, she went through a description of holistic terminology I remember from my college yoga days — words like chakras, flow and chi — to describe how acupuncture worked. She then felt my pulse and asked me to stick out my tongue. That one surprised me. But I passed the test with flying colors and bragged to my husband that I have a beautiful tongue…so says my acupuncturist. Next, she showed me the tiny needles that would be gently tapped into my body. To be honest, the needles inserted into my legs were fairly painless. The needles placed in my feet caused a little discomfort, but nothing compared to other lovely things women put themselves through (aka: waxing). She then left me alone for 30 minutes to allow the needles to do their work (break up that bad “chi” and cause white blood cells to migrate to the injury sites and speed up the healing process). I actually fell asleep. It was relaxing! 30 minutes later, the needles were removed, and Christine suggested I drink a lot of water and call her after my first run to see how things went. Regardless of this treatment, I have still been stretching, icing and taking anti-inflammatories. I haven’t abandoned traditional medicine. (: However, if I run pain-free this weekend, you better believe I won’t hesitate to be a voodoo doll again.
Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.