Dr. Clark was published in this month’s Colorado Runner Magazine. The full text is below.Â Enjoy!
After many long hard months of training, recovery prior to that awe-inspiring long distance race is essential. Many runners follow the recommendations of rest, lighter workouts, proper nutrition, ice, stretching and massages, but all too frequently some minor aches and pains just donâ€™t go away. Serious runners and triathletes are always tempted to â€œwork throughâ€ that pesky knee pain, that stabbing foot pain, or that calf pain on those arduous hills. I am a victim of that very concept. Although tempting, this runnerâ€™s attitude far too often delays recovery and promotes more serious repetitive overuse types of injury.
So when should you stop training and start healing?
For starters, a good clue is when â€œworking through the painâ€ doesnâ€™t work, if the problem worsens with more mileage or faster paces, or if intermittent periods of rest isnâ€™t providing adequate relief. When pain perpetually increases, scar tissue begins to build up in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Scar tissue acts as the â€œglueâ€ to repair and mend together micro-tearing that naturally occurs in tissues during the strength and endurance building phases.
During the healing process, the presence of scar tissue essentially renders the area of â€œgluedâ€ tissue less elastic and thus inefficient. It only makes sense that when we continue to â€œwork through the painâ€ in order to achieve our customary pace and speed, the functional muscles surrounding the scarred area have to work harder. As this occurs, blood flow to the injured tissue begins to decrease as does the essential nutrient input and removal of cellular debris.
The body doesnâ€™t know what to do with the sudden build-up of debris and thus it lays down more scar tissue to protect the muscle.
Until the process is stopped, the efficiency of the entire muscle will continue to degrade and the cycle will exponentially increase. If you are training for a goal race and you have symptoms that donâ€™t fade or resolve as expected with rest, donâ€™t throw in the towel just yet; the ARTÂ® of recovery is at your finger tips.
What is Active Release?
Active Release TechniqueÂ® (ARTÂ®), a non-invasive soft tissue technique, is a patented, state-of-the-art technique specifically designed to break up scar tissue in repetitively overused muscles. Many Ironman triathletes have already discovered the technique that relieves their aches and pains, helps them recover faster, and enhances their athletic performance.
How does it work?
It works by aggressively massaging out the scar tissue that causes your tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, or shin splints. All of these conditions are a result of repetition and can be caused by something as simple as scar tissue. The technique itself is diagnosis and treatment in one step, continually asking the athlete to aggravate the symptoms in-house followed by treatment and re-testing to determine if the site of pain is being affected. If you are not a candidate for ARTÂ®, it is apparent to the practitioner within the first few sessions.
It is especially convenient for the eager runner who doesnâ€™t want to take time off to heal an injury. Athletes under care are often encouraged to continue training, with instructions to stop once the pain sets in. Frequently, athletes can measure their own progress by charting an increase in pain-free distances obtained, as well as a decrease in pain intensity.
What does it feels like?
In order to effectively reduce scar tissue, ARTÂ® has to be an aggressive procedure. But, most people describe the non-invasive technique as a â€œgood hurt.â€ There is a large amount of digital pressure that has to be applied to the injury to affect scar tissue. Since we are speaking about muscles and tissue that are deep relative to the skin, you can compare it to a deep tissue massage with motion. The athlete is an active part of the treatment, which serves to improve the efficacy of the treatment and to mitigate the discomfort involved in receiving ARTÂ®.
It is definitely worth the â€œgood hurtâ€ to overcome the pain of training in order to reach the finish line. Donâ€™t get frustrated with how your body is feeling and certainly donâ€™t ignore what your body is telling you. Try the most conservative treatments first, and if that doesnâ€™t work then consider an alternative treatment. ARTÂ® may be the answer to your training roadblock. Additionally, it may provide insight on â€œhowâ€ you were hurt, so that you can prevent future injuries and run longer.Tweet