Pain spelled A-R-T
Pain is powerful. Period. Pain can warn your body to stop whatever it is your doing or it can be the barrier that exists between you and achieving your next PR. I’ve always had the mantra that if it didn’t hurt, I wasn’t trying hard enough. (And perhaps that is why I am sitting here with ice on my leg, but I digress…). Although pain is not always great, I have found that if I can stand the pain of intervals or the pain of a long run, my running has always improved. But as it is with us runners, I sometimes train too hard, ignore rest days, and end up on the much dreaded injured list. An injury a few years ago left me searching for any cure I could find. That is what introduced me to ART, or active release therapy. Ever since then, I have been an avid proponent for ART. For me, active release therapy is one source of pain that I am happy to put up with in order to become a better runner.
Active Release Therapy is defined as a “patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.” Although they use the term massage in the definition, I find it to be the complete opposite of a massage. For me, a massage equals peaceful, relaxing, and something that feels good. ART on the other hand, equals intense pain. I had my first experience with ART a few years ago basically for the same reason I’ve been going these past few weeks – my right leg hurts. I remember doing a lot of research about ART and knew before I ever had my first treatment, it was going to hurt. Well let me be the first to say, it hurt like something I had never experienced before. However, if you are considering ART and can get past saying a few choice words and swearing you’ll never do it again, ART can offer you more relief than you ever thought possible. The moment you stand up, you can feel the difference (trying to ignore the throbbing pain) and wonder why you didn’t call the doctor two weeks earlier. Whatever pressing they do on your muscles and twisting they do of your legs, it works. And what is even better, it is almost immediate. After one treatment with Dr. Molly, I can go out for a quick run and tell an improvement. Granted, I may suffer from some soreness and bruising, but it is all worth it for the sake of running. If you’re interested in trying this form of treatment, let me break it down for you:
- You go in, describe the problem, and the doctor will evaluate your tight tendons, ligaments, etc.
- Once the problem area has been identified, they will push deep into that spot with their hands while moving your leg (or whatever limb it may be) in a particular direction.
- Next, you may scream out in pain, start sweating because of the pain, jump off the table and hobble out, or breathe deep and let the doctor do it again. (I recommend breathing deep and trying again.)
- The doctor will repeat the action several more times and it never gets easier.
- You will get off the table, knowing that the deepest part of your muscle has been bruised and tortured, but miraculously, your leg feels better.
- You go for a little jog and experience the immediate benefits of ART.
- You sign up for your next appointment, which is normally two days later (they don’t recommend that much pressure and pain within a 24 hour period) and do it all over again.
- You start running again MUCH sooner than you imagined.
I’m a strong believer in Active Release Therapy and of course Dr. Molly. Every time I’ve had an issue with my leg, I go visit Active Chiropractic, and normally after 3 visits, I’m back to normal. After my last visit with Dr. Molly, I could tell such an immediate improvement that I decided in preparation for the Boston Marathon, I would be meeting with her twice a month until April 16th, 2012. I’ve already scheduled all of my appointments up to one week before the race.
If you suffer from any sort of injury, misalignment, hip issues, calf issues, or anything else that may be soft tissue related, I highly recommend finding your nearest ART certified doctor. It will be well worth your time. Even if you are just running and not training for a particualar race, it may be worth it just to have a doctor work on areas that you didn’t even realize were tight.
As runners, we are well aware of the concept of pain. Sometimes we push ourselves to the max and other times we push ourselves too hard when we really should take it easy. Although active release therapy may be intense and painful, if you have any sort of injury, it is all worth it. And being the runners and athletes we are, we can handle the pain and will come out better performers because of it.