Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little of This...A Little of That..

A 5-mile run on the home trails, a sweet 11-mile loop in Boulder and an informative and seemingly helpful visit with a new PT.

After 18 days off, I finally got out for a run last weekend - a whopping five mile cruise around the Meadow View loop at Elk Meadow Open Space. The run was fine. Felt great just to be moving again.

I've been nursing two nagging injuries (really?...haven't you told us this 50,231 times?), my left heel and a likely muscle tear of some sort in one of my right lower abs.

Post-run, things generally felt OK. Foot ached some, but not nearly as bad as it has. Lower ab was fine.

On Monday, I went and saw another Boulder-based PT. Great guy that was recommended by Aaron K. He worked on me using a combination of Active Release Therapy and Graston Technique, neither of which I knew anything about before Monday. Now, I'll readily admit that I'm a bit of a skeptic and far from up-to-speed on the latest bodywork fads and science. Whether it's chiropractic, acupuncture or Rolfing, I'm the first to roll his eyes, yet, incongruently, willing to try anything to get back into the miles.

So, the whole ART thing I that I've experienced it. Here's what the ART Web site says about the technique:

ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.

Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.

These treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.

The Graston Technique is a whole other ball of wax. This from the
Graston Technique Web site:

The Graston Technique® incorporates a patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively detect and treat scar tissue and restrictions that affect normal function.
  • Separates and breaks down collagen cross-links, and splays and stretches connective tissue and muscle fibers
  • Increases skin temperature
  • Facilitates reflex changes in the chronic muscle holding pattern
  • Alters spinal reflux activity (facilitated segment)
  • Increases the rate and amount of blood flow to and from the area
  • Increases cellular activity in the region, including fibroblasts and mast cells
  • Increases histamine response secondary to mast cell activity
The "instrument" referenced above, at least in my case, was an interesting stainless steel tool that looked like a cross between a butter knife from my grandma's silverware set and the steel boomerang the "Feral Kid" in the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome movie wielded (only the Graston tool was smaller and a bit less menacing).

So, I'm still learning about all this stuff.  And, ultimately, the true measure is whether the patient (me!) improves.  For now, the short of it is that I was very impressed with this PT. He spent a good two hours listening to me, working on my problem areas and explaining the physiological rationale for everything he did.  I walked out of there feeling like he'd done some good, and I had a passel of recommended exercises and home therapies to apply, including a way to tape up my foot that might help.

I took a day off, post PT visit, to let things settle in.  On Wednesday, with 60-degree weather mocking me, I decided it was time to get out for some miles.  I used my new Rock Tape to tape up my heel and set off in the late afternoon from the Flatiron Vista Trailhead off Highway 93. Man, was I psyched to be out running. 

My foot felt surprisingly good.  Solid.  Like I didn't need to think about it.  I ran up the Prairie View Trail, down Dowdy Draw to the Spring Brook Loop.  Headed south, picked up Goshawk and ran that to Spring Brook North and returned to Flatiron Vista.  11.3 miles of trail bliss in about 1:39.  (This is a really, really great and fast loop.  Highly recommend it...).

No problems with the foot.  Lower ab tightened up a lot. Hard to know if that was a result of the Graston work on Monday, or the result of the exertion.  Time will tell.  A day later, the foot still feels good...far better than it has post-run in a month. Was it the ART...the Graston...the taping...a combination of the three?  Hard to know.  

Still, I'm encouraged and plan to return to the PT for some follow-ups.  More to come as I gain more experience with these approaches.

Definitely lamenting that I won't be up in FoCo on Saturday running the Chubby Cheeks 50K.

Lastly, I've started labeling posts like this: "injury whining." I'm not used to being on the injured-reserve list, and certainly not much used to writing about it. Please feel free to offer poignant counsel on whether posts like this are overly indulgent, boring and best left as unpublished drafts.


  1. No man, I just sympathize that you are kept from running.

    It sounds like ART is a precision version of what is done with foam rollers, which is really a shotgun approach. In both cases there is sore, stiff muscle/tissue that needs to be softened, lest it pull on other muscles/tendons and cause irritation or tears. Simple concept really.

    It also took me a while to realize that since tendons don't stretch, to an extent you have to treat tendon issues by working the attached muscles. Then when the pressure is off the tendons, they can begin to heal.

    I hope this works out for you and you can get back to it.

  2. mtrunner2 is pretty right on in his assessment I think. Glad to hear about the progress. I really think you will benefit from the time/work done with Richey...I've just had too many good experiences and results from working with him.

  3. It takes me a long time to learn most things. I'm happy w/ the progress so far...after just one visit.

    Thanks again, Aaron, for the referral. I'll post more as the results solidify. Will have more to say about Richey after I've seen him a few more times.

  4. I just keep running and stuff still hurts. It makes me feel tougher yet dumber at the same time.