Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rubber Bands, Elmers Glue and ART

Sounds like a elementary school art class but that was actually what my Wednesday was all about.

Recap: Saturdays long run left me with a numb right leg and sore hip. This was during the last 30 minutes of my two hour run. The prior weeks two hour run was perfect. Being only four weeks out from the Shamrock Marathon I had to do something. My coach recommended seeing Dr. Zak to see what he could do to help.

I made an appointment with Dr. Tom Zak who is an ART Chiropractor. ART (Active Release Technique) uses a combination of specific pressure applied to the muscle while to patient/athlete performs a specific movement of the arm/leg/whatever that is part of the muscle being treated.

The first session was an evaluation/treatment. We talked about what was going on, what he thought was the problem, how the muscles are weakened and what he can do to help. He watched me run back and forth a couple of times and noticed a slight drag of my right leg, like I wasn't getting a full push from it since it was weak.

During his explanation of the muscles he used the example of rubber bands to describe the muscles. They lengthen and contract as we walk/run/bike/etc. Muscles should be nice and relaxed like a rubber band just sitting on the table. But over time the muscles experience small tears during exercise, especially during heavy training, and those tears cause scarring. If not treated the muscle fibers start to bind together and you start to feel the stiffness in the muscles. The binding together of the muscles he likened to pouring Elmers Glue on the rubber bands. The muscle fibers clump together and don't move as nicely. He also used comparisons like rough rope and bumpy stiff leather but I couldn't find any good pictures of that.

So after taking vitals and watching me run I got on the table. No massage therapists and chiropractors and any medical person amaze me with their knowledge of what is under the skin. Dr. Zak was digging his fingers deep into my body to apply the right pressure on the specific muscle he was working on. When he had a good feel for the muscle I then moved my leg, since that was what we were working on, as he told me. The idea is the I lengthen the muscle and it glides under the pressure he is applying. Kind of smoothing out the rough patches in the muscle. The way the quad comes up and attaches, he had his finger deep under my hip to find the connecting point.

On the backside he explained the reason for my numbness in the leg. The top of the hamstring attaches just under the glute and was inflamed. The inflamation was blocking a major artery that feeds the leg. It was also "pinching" a major nerve into the leg. Made sense and when he went to release it he found a tender spot right where he expected to find it.

This wa only one session. I have two next week that should help more. In the meantime I will be stretching and taking some downtime. I have a long run on Saturday that I will be cautious on and not push it. I'm going to stay close to home so that when the first sign of trouble appears I'm not far from home.

Move updates to follow next week.

Today I did manage to get some training in. My left arm was feeling okay to I decided to swim long and steady. 3000 yards was the goal. I managed 2400 before the arm told me to stop, and I did immediately so as not to make it worse. I was happy with holding a 1:45 pace the entire time and not feeling tired in the least.

For the evening I did one hour on the trainer in Zone 2 and felt great. The hip wasn't bothered by the high cadence, 90 - 100, and it was good to get a complete workout in for once.

Rest day tomorrow, except for stretching, then we will see what happens for the weekend.

Stay strong everyone.


E-Speed said...

Wow that sounds really interesting. I should probably get in and have someone evaulate my kinetic chain, is that what you would call that? soon.

Will I see you at the meeting tomorrow?

Keryn said...

Very nice...I need to find someone in my area who does that. I've read about it, but never actually had it done.

Btw...I am jealous that you and Elizabeth apparently workout in the same places. I SO wish I had anyone nearby...

qcmier said...

Rest up, get better soon. I am expecting an awesome first marathon out of you.