Happy Birthday 86th Rich Busa and many more! You are an inspiration to all that know you. You are also our role model for active living! For those who don’t know Rich, he still runs train marathons (and wins them). Rich has an infectious enthusiasm which lightens up any room he is in. With all his accolades and trophies he is humble and encouraging to all he knows.
Rich did not run his first marathon until age 53, but has not stopped since. He has run over 70 trail marathons and 61 Ultra Marathons. At age 72, he was the oldest person ever to run the Vermont 100 (that’s right a 100 miles trail run). In addition he has run over 60 snow shoe races and has won the Gold Medal at the US National Snow Shoe Championships for the last 11 years.
On top of being the nicest person you could ever meet, what makes Rich’s athletic feats even more amazing is how he does it. When I first meet Rich in 2007 years ago, he wasn’t running due to back pain. I performed our usual detailed history and exam, and then took x-rays. Rich’s low back was so severely arthritic at all levels, that a radiologist without knowing Rich’s story would wonder how long he was in a rocking chair. The good news was there was no signs of nerve damage and all tests showed that Rich’s back pain was caused by abnormal function of the joints and muscles of his spine. More specifically his the spinal joints along his low back were stuck.
The short story is that Rich followed our recommendations for chiropractic care, responded very well and he was back running in no time. Rich has been running ever since!
Here’ the long story…osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease is not a normal part of getting older. It is essentially rust or decay in the joints. There are 24 vertebrae in the spine and 133 joints. Joints need to move. When joints don’t move they decay or rust together. The longer the joints don’t move the more progressive the arthritis usually becomes. I don’t buy into that arthritis is a normal part of aging. I have patients in their 20’s with significant arthritis and patients in their 70-80’s with minimal arthritis. Arthritis is caused by long term dysfunction of the spine.
Having arthritis doesn’t mean you are doomed to a sedentary lifestyle. Rich proves that every day. It’s not the arthritis that causes pain; it is the lack of motion. If you found an old rusty hinge that was stuck and you tried to force it open it could break. If you took that some rusty hinge and soaked it in oil for a few days, and then slowly start to play with it with slight gentle motions, over time that hinge would be functioning and you could even mount it on a door. That rehabilitated hinge would most likely need more TLC and regular oiling than a brand new hinge. That’s what we do with our patients with arthritis. We proverbially get their rusty joints to move using manipulation. We also get the small and large muscles around the joints to lengthen and function properly again with Active Release Techniques® (ART), which is a patented soft tissue technique which releases adhesions or scar tissue in muscles. Over time we optimize function and get our patients active again so that they can do the activities and sports they enjoy for as long as they choose too. Arthritic joint need more TLC and maintenance care than new joints. Unfortunately you can’t go back in time. The key is to have regular spinal check-ups from an early age, just as we have our teeth checked to prevent to start of spinal decay
So 8 years ago, Rich took my advice. He went through a rehabilitation program at Performance Health Center, which included manipulation, ART®, stretching and strengthening exercise and before he knew it was running again and literally has not stopped since. He schedules appointments at the office at least monthly for a “tune-up”. When he gets injured, which is bound to happen when you are running 26.2 miles on trails with rocks and roots, mud and stream crossing, he gets a little extra care to get him back on track.
Just like we got Rich up and running again, we may be able to do the same for you. Next time a family member or friend says they are limited by arthritis, please give them our name. We will perform a thorough history and examination. If we think we can help them we’ll tell them, if not we’ll make the appropriate referral. IF you have any questions, or if Rich’s story inspired you to start being active again, please email me at drbradweiss@rcn.com , or call me at 508-655-9008.