After three visits to Dr. Seth Alley, who has helped me through a number of minor setbacks over the past few years, my back was just not relenting in it’s bizarre need to send shockwaves of pain during full swings, so I went down earlier this week to visit the wonderful Physical Therapist Shawn Dailey PT, DPT. Seth helped a ton in getting things back in line, but I had the feeling that it was a strain or similar condition in the tendons deep down. This is a specialty of Shawn, so it was time for a visit to see if he could figure out this puzzling pain.
Shawn and I have a lot of history together as he was the first person to set up workout routines for The Dan Plan as well as the first person to do a TPI screen on me. We haven’t met up in a while as I have been physically healthy, but Shawn knows how my body functions, probably better than I know it myself, and I knew that he could figure out what was going on down there in my lower back.
During the first visit Shawn did a once-over on everything in and around the lower back and said that the joints were all moving pretty well, although my hip mobility was a little limited for some reason, especially on the right side. He worked things out for a while and then we went through a simple workout routine so he could see how muscle groups were firing when isolated. My core, for some reason, was a bit shaky and he said that could be from the pain in the lower back acting like a virus and interfering with how my neurological system controls the muscle groups. He gave me some core exercises to work on in order to regain specific controls.
I felt a little better when I left, but later that day it was back to the normal strange sense of pain, even when just walking down the street or mowing the lawn. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but there was just something off. He had me take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (Aleve) twice a day for three days and wanted me to come back in on Friday. The rest of Wednesday was a little tender, most likely from the muscles having been worked on by Shawn, and then Thursday I felt better, but knew that if I tried to swing a club the pain would immediately turn up again just where it had left off. To be clear, the pain isn’t an 8 or 9 on a scale to ten, but what it was causing me to do was to bail in my swing in order to avoid it, which leads to unwanted swing changes and potentially could worsen with time. It just felt like a tiny bolt of lightening at very specific points in the swing which when they happened made it feel like my right leg was going to collapse. Perhaps my glutes were just not firing. Wait, no, that’s not me, that was Tiger.
This has been lingering and not improving for about 3 weeks and I was starting to get a little worried as to the discovery of a potential cause. It’s also just annoying as the weather has been amazing and all I want to do is get out to the course and hit some shots.
Then on Friday I went down to Shawn’s Lake Oswego office again and we did all sorts of different types of movements in order to exactly pinpoint where the culprit was located. After we found that spot with the help of some slow golf swings, Shawn figured out it was a continuum distortion. To get technical, a continuum distortion is an alteration of the transition zone between ligament, tendon, and other connective tissue and bone. Basically, the ligament and/or tendon can get slightly pulled away from the bone which causes pain.
What I learned is that the connection between fascia and the bone is not static and the fascia transitions from rigid to flexible depending on which way calcium molecules need to flow. this process gets interrupted during an injury like a sprain or some sort of larger tweak in the area and causes pain and limited movement. A continuum disorder like the one Shawn found in my back is something that can either last a long time if not treated or shift back to normal on its own. Mine has lasted a few weeks, so I’m not sure how long it might have taken to heal on its own and was amazed at how fast I started feeling better once Shawn manipulated it.
This is all part of something that I had never heard of before, but that Shawn is certified in: Fascial Distortion Model. This FDM method of treatment is relatively new, coming into the picture back in 1991 when an Osteopathic Physician, Dr. Stephen Typaldos “discovered” the method. Over the last three days I have read the book on FDM and understand it at a rudimentary level as I am no doctor, but the method makes sense to me in it’s simplicity. The trained FDM certified person finds the origin of pain in our tendons and joints and pushes hard on that spot getting the ligament and/or tendon back into it’s normal state of being. Once that issue is resolved the body goes back to functioning as it should and the pain is gone.
Shawn and I found my spot and he pressed it until a sense of relief rushed through my lower body. The next day I felt great, but still rested and took it easier on his recommendation. After having one day of no pain I was a bit excited and wanted to go out and see how it felt on the course. The downfall was that on Sunday I woke up with pain in the same spot, but thought if I took it easy and warmed up well I could make some swings. On the range it immediately hurt and then on the course I made it through one swing before realizing I needed to not play any longer. It was disappointing, but Shawn had told me this may take some time so I did my best to be patient and walk away to rest it once again.
On Monday I woke up feeling better and had a match-play round that evening I wanted to participate in if possible. After stretching and resting for most of the day I went to Riverside and warmed up with some swings. I found that if I swung smoothly and evenly it didn’t seem to hurt and figured I could play the 9-hole match with easy swings.
The round lasted about 6 holes before it became uncomfortably painful and I knew it would just cause more damage to continue so I had to forfeit the round even though we were tied after 6. It was disappointing to have to walk away, but in the bigger picture I know the more important thing is to make a full recovery and be able to play in the charity tourney in Chicago this coming Friday (http://www.btbfoundation.org check it out! should be a ton of fun).
The next day I was not able to get in to see Shawn, but did go up and chip and putt for a while, which felt good. I couldn’t make a full swing and didn’t try more than one or two, but at least I was able to work the short game.
Later in the day I saw a doctor friend who specializes in the lower back and he was pretty adamant that it was a pinched nerve in my lower back. He wrote me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and said I should feel better in a day or two as the swelling subsides. I’m game for anything that may work so got it fulfilled and will see what happens.
Tomorrow I visit Shawn again and he will work on that spot. I think that with the combo of the anti-inflammatory and Shawn’s expertise things are looking good moving forward. Whatever it takes to get better and get back out there is what I will do. This has been the first real set-back in the five years I have done this so I can’t complain too much. Anyone who golfs knows how tough it can be on the body and a few weeks off to rest and recover is a small price to pay in the big picture. That said, I can’t wait to get back out there and work on the game. One day soon…