Many runners have found the benefits of chiropractic

Chiropractic care has its share of fans and critics, just like any other form of "alternative" medical treatment.

But unlike acupuncture or reflexology, chiropractic is becoming more and more mainstream, especially among runners, whom chiropractors treat routinely for muscular problems such as hamstring strains and groin pulls.

What is it?
Pennsylvania chiropractor John Marino defines the approach: "Medical doctors prescribe drugs," he says. "Podiatrists prescribe orthotics. Physical therapists recommend stretching and massage. And chiropractors manipulate the spine."

Keeping the vertebrae in line through spinal adjustments is the fundamental ingredient in chiropractic care. The discipline's founder, a 19th-century Iowa tradesman named D.D. Palmer, theorized that tiny spinal misalignments ? which he called subluxations ? are at the root of most human pain.

The subluxations, he said, irritate the nerves around the spine, causing pain. Palmer believed that health could be restored through small adjustments to the errant vertebrae. The chiropractor's creed is essentially unchanged 100 years later.

When is it warranted?
When you have low-back pain or a problem you believe is attributed to a stiff and painful lower back. Period. Although this is only one ailment among many treated by chiropractors, it is the single problem proven to be served by spinal adjustments.

Other problems may be cared for successfully by chiropractors, but the back is their area of undisputed expertise.

Do chiropractors have sports certification?
Yes. Look for a CCSP ? a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician. In addition to four years of regular training, these chiropractors took a 100-hour course and passed a board certification examination to work specifically with athletes. In addition, a Diplomat is a chiropractor who has completed an additional 200 hours of post-graduate study and passed a second exam.

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