Recently I went to see Dr. Jordan Metzl, sports doctor for the stars, about the chronic back pain I've been having during cycling. Dr. Metzl is a contributor to Triathlete magazine, Ironman finisher and all around awesome advocate and supporter of athletic pursuits. I knew him from my days with Terrier Tri in Manhattan and had visited after him IMLP to talk about the stress fractures that I developed in each shin during that race. This time around the situation was a bit more serious as my chronic back issue has seriously been affecting race day performance.
On my flight back from Seattle a week or two ago after having made my appointment with Jordan, I came across one of his articles in Triathlete magazine. The stars were aligned as his most recent article was on pain in the sacroiliac joint; the article described the issue I was having perfectly!
The great thing about Dr. Metzl is that during my appointment prior to asking me any medical questions or rushing me out of his office he took the time to ask me how triathlon was going, talk to me about my latest races and tell me about his pending plans to compete in IMLP. Then after a quick examination (his article made it pretty easy to tell him my problem) he triumphantly shouted - I can fix you! Gave me a fist pump and was off to get me the info for the physical therapist who would put me through pain towards health.
I've now been to Chris and Ali at Vitaris Rehabilitation a couple of times. They diagnosed the cause of my problem as a leg length difference! Currently we're working through determining if the leg length difference is an anatomical or functional problem. The functional issue of a pelvic tilt needs to be addressed first this requires a ton of stretching that has me sweat like a pig and put my abs into spasms but all that is an effort to level off my pelvis. After a few weeks of torture Chris and Ali will re-valuate the problem to determine if there is an anatomical difference between the bone structure in my legs. If so I'll need to wear a lift in my left shoe while running and biking so that I'm on a level surface.
The leg length discrepancy has caused my right side to basically compress on itself to artificially level off my pelvis during exercise. This compression is causing my sacroiliac joint to spasm which starts as an ache in my lower right back, turns into a shooting pain and then eventually the pain radiates from my back to my right hip. When that happens I loose the ability to generate power with my right leg on the bike and it kills my speed. The off season is time to fix stuff so hopefully I can get this leg length issue taken care of and then really get after cycling!