Chiropractic Help for Runners from Tom Gerou

Chiropractic Help for Runners from Tom Gerou

Chiropractic Help for Runners from Tom Gerou

Since the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 the US Olympic team has used chiropractors to improve athletic performance. It’s considered a holistic way of healing. Many other successful athletes such as Nolan Ryan, Mohammad Ali and Carl Lewis have used a chiropractor to help them perform at their peak.

Dr. Tom Gerou, who practices chiropractic in Canton, has run 22 Detroit Free Press Marathons and 15 Boston Marathons. He is a fixture at many races throughout Michigan. I interviewed him for some of his insights on treating injuries through a chiropractor.


A chiropractic adjustment is one of a number of ways to use direct and controlled pressure to restore joints to their correct position and normal motion, and to help restore proper nerve function. An adjustment often takes five to six minutes, and spinal traction up to ten minutes. Cold packs are sometimes used.

Dr. Gerou usually recommends a list of exercises with the objective to improve muscle function to help stabilize the spine and extremities. “Runners need to fix an injury before they can think about performing at their peak. During the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong had a chiropractic adjustment before and after each ride. Foot flare, often caused by pelvic misalignments, is often a problem that affects a runners’ stride. The larger the degree of flare the more steps required, which can cost a runner as much as 30 yards per mile.”

“A first visit consultation and evaluation usually includes musculoskeletal, orthopedic, and neurological tests as well as a chiropractic analysis. I may use a surface electromyography (SEMG) test to scan the posture muscles and observe disorders that cause the muscles to react in abnormal ways, indicating possible nerve interference. The initial visit often requires an X-ray to determine the seriousness of the injury, as well as providing a method for taking precise measurements to the spine and pelvis for proper adjustment and correction.”

Common problems he has treated in his office are: Sciatica, which is an irritation to the sciatic nerve, (the longest single nerve in the body and runs down to the lower limb) and is sometimes confused with a hamstring pull, lower spine issues such as vertebral subluxation, a bulging or slipped disk, or leg length differences which may cause curvatures or imbalances to the spine.

Dr. Gerou usually checks first to see if the athlete is structurally sound. He uses a method created by Dr. Timothy Maggs, another runner, who developed the Structural Fingerprint Evaluation. It asserts that we all have structural differences. He prescribes being evaluated to determine the many specifics of our body’s structure which make up one’s total fingerprint. Runners need to understand their biomechanics and what unique structural defects exist. Both normal and abnormal leg length, pelvic angle, lumbar lordosis, cervical lordosis, joint mobility, and muscle balance, to name a few, should be recognized in order to develop a plan to help correct the defects.

Dr. Gerou also uses plumb line analysis to observe a runners balance. “When I find runners who are not biomechanically correct their bodies are usually forgiving until they start doing high mileage. That’s when tight quadriceps lower back problems from hill work start showing up. Then the imbalances become amplified and overuse injuries are created.”

Runners can use massage and physical therapy to work through injuries or chiropractic care to restore nerve function and good joint biomechanics. “Athletes should think about using active care from a chiropractor in four ways: Acute Care for new injuries, which require aggressive work over a three to four week period, Corrective Care for addressing the misalignments and imbalances, Rehabilitative Care for strengthening and stabilizing the body, and Wellness Care for prevention and peak performance.”