After training 2 months for the Chicago Marathon, my girlfriend and I successfully ran 10 miles around the Charles River in Boston, MA. We are both athletes and runners but this was our first marathon experience. After this monumental goal in our training, I began feeling intense pain in my left leg. Our next run proved to be extremely difficult and painful for me to complete even though the total mileage that day was only 3 miles. At the time, Dr. Stephan Esser and his wife lived in our apartment building and we quickly connected through our shared interest of health and fitness. I reached out to Dr. Esser, explaining my pain and asking for his advice.
Dr. Esser diagnosed the problem through a series of questions, exercises, and observations to further understand and eventually conclude that I had IT Band Syndrome. His intense desire to understand my pain and the conditions surrounding it really allowed me to continue training throughout the treatment in order to reach my end goal of completing the marathon. His approach to making a diagnosis, ultimately leading to a correct diagnosis, was far more comprehensive than that of my own Primary Care Physician who I saw just days before. His recommended treatment regimen was one that was new to me but I was willing to try anything to continue training. We started with acupuncture and deep tissue massage sessions. He also taught me various strength building exercises, including my favorite – clam shells, which I was to do daily. I only had 4 weeks left in my training and Dr. Esser’s treatment and encouragement became paramount in my ability to run and finish the Chicago Marathon despite the pain that the IT Band Syndrome was causing. Each of my sessions with Dr. Esser provided me the continued ability to train and keep the injury at bay without worsening while also slowly decreasing the level of pain and allowing further distances to be accomplished during the training.
The entire experience with Dr. Esser ultimately allowed me to complete the 2011 Chicago Marathon. After 4 weeks of treatment (about 6 total), I was able to successfully complete 17 miles of continuous running until I had to offset the pain with a run-walk pace to complete the marathon.
I have no doubt in my mind that without Dr. Esser’s help, motivation, and clinically expertise that I would not have been able to successfully complete my training or the Chicago Marathon.