How an avid runner got to the root of his back pain so that he could return to racing pain-free.
Eric Rakow has been running for the past 15 years. He began running 5 k’s for fun; those 5 k’s quickly turned into 10 k’s and soon a half marathon. But why run a half when you can run a full? Eric took to running with a group of friends who enjoyed a challenge, and he too wanted to challenge himself mentally and physically by adding more mileage to his runs. For Eric, the mental aspect of the long runs became the challenge he most wanted to “stride” towards – setting goals, testing his limits and exceeding his ambitions. Last October, Eric finished the Yankee Springs 31 mile ultramarathon in 5 hours and 40 minutes, crushing his goal by 20 minutes. While pushing himself mentally, he couldn’t deny that the physical aspect had taken a toll.
During a long run, while training for a 30-mile race, Eric began having pain in his right upper back near his shoulder blade or scapula. He went to see a shoulder specialist who thought he had a torn bicep tendon or partially torn bicep tendon. Holding off on the MRI for insurance purposes, Eric’s physician recommended physical therapy first. After completing a course of PT for his injured bicep tendon, he continued to have pain in his back, so they proceeded with the MRI which indeed showed a partial tear of the right bicep tendon. Surgical repair of the bicep tendon was discussed at that point; however, there were no guarantees that the operation would relieve Eric’s chief complaint, his scapular pain. Eric was then referred to a neck and spine specialist who recommended physical therapy again. This time Eric found Robinet Physical Therapy through a friend who referred him.
Sydney “Syd” Savage, DPT became his treating clinician. Eric states, “I was pain-free within a month of starting treatment.” The education that Syd provided from the beginning to end of treatment along with the continual re-evaluation of progress during each visit were among Eric’s favorite things about working with Syd. “She also gave me the stretches [and] the exercises so that when I start to have an issue, I can treat it quickly.[…] I know what to do to fix it.” Eric continues to run pain-free; he no longer has to stretch his neck while he runs or swing his arm in wide circles in vain to relieve his pain. You can catch him on the trail this Winter getting in his 30 miles a week.
He is looking to compete in an upcoming race this Fall which will require him to increase his mileage to 50 miles per week throughout the Summer. We hope that Eric stays pain-free on the trails so that he can continue to say, “It’s a lot of fun out there.”