Taking Care of Running Injuries between Visits with TP Performance Therapy

Taking Care of Running Injuries between Visits with TP Performance Therapy

Nothing seems to bring to light, the interconnectedness of different areas of the body like the activity of running.  It is a complex, multi-joint, repetitive Image of muscle locations on lower limbactivity and if there is a breakdown anywhere along the chain, we’ll start the compensation process for as long as we can until we just can’t compensate our way around it any more, and the pain sets in.  The more common of these pains are plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and Iliotibial band syndromes.  In our practice in Squamish, BC, there is such an active population that we see a tonne of these types of injuries.

Surprising as it can be, the majority of pains felt at one location are caused by dysfunction at a different location.  As a Chiropractors and providers of Active Release Techniques,  a lot of our job is educating patients as to WHY they are hurting, and not just trying to relieve the hurt.  The more tools that a patient has to take care of themselves, the easier it makes our job and the more satisfied and confident patients become, knowing that there are solutions available to them.

The nature of the majority of these injuries is not an overt trauma to the area, but more typically a result of decreased blood flow and oxygen deprivation in tight muscles, this can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely which can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. In our practice, we will use ART (Active Release Techniques), to locate and eliminate the adhesions, and find it to be a very effective way of dealing with these types of problems.  One issue that we run into however, is that patients can’t always get in for treatment and the stretching or strengthening advice we provide only has limited effectiveness.

We have also recommended the use of a foam roller in the past for helping break up scar tissue and keep muscles loose, but again we find that because a foam roller is so generic in nature, it ends up being a fairly generic treatment.

We have been using the Trigger Point Performance Foot and Lower Leg Kit with patients over the past 6 months and have found it to be a great solution for patients to maintain lower limb function between treatments.

What impresses me about the Trigger Point Performance Therapy products, is that they are well thought out, specifically designed tools and as a result are much more functional and effective than a foam cylinder could ever dream of being.  The biggest complaint about the products that I’ll hear from patients is that the kits are “too expensive”… They definitely do cost more than a foam roller, but once they have used the tools and realize that it will quickly pay for itself in the number of fewer clinic visits that they will require, they are usually convinced.  Every kit comes with written instructions as well as a very well put together DVD which takes the user through exactly how and WHY to use the different tools for different areas of the body.  Please pay heed to the numerous warnings in the DVD that tell you to take it slow, and increase the pressure gradually, because as anyone who has done any type of rolling in the past knows…it’s a special kind of torture.

So far I have only been using the TP Footballer, TP Baller Block, and TP Massage Ball, for the lower leg.  There are other products available, including the TP Quadballer and TP Grid.  I hope to try out and review these other products soon.  They are available through www.tptherapy.com or in the Lower Mainland at any of the Fitness Town locations www.fitnesstown.ca

Understanding Muscle Dysfunction

When we decide we want to become stronger, it seems that we have a general understanding of what it’s going to take to get there.  If for example we choose to employ the assistance of a personal trainer and we go in for a session and after some basic testing, it is determined that we can bench press 100 lbs.  Our goal, however, is to press 150 lbs… that’s why we’re doing the personal training.

Is anyone in that situation is going to be disappointed or surprised that after one session of personal training, that 150 lb goal has not been reached…N0! of course not.  It is understood that making changes in a muscles capacity to produce force takes time.  It’s going to take a while.  It’s going to take consistent effort with adequate rest, to increase the size and strength of the muscles, gradually increasing from the 100 lbs, by increments up to 150 lbs over weeks or months.

Something that is less understood is there are other factors that are going to contribute to that muscles ability to strengthen and contract and grow which are not able to be addressed by repetitive, consistent effort alone.  The muscles blood supply, innervation, presence of adhesions or trigger points, or an overly tight antagonist muscles all affect that muscles performance.

Muscles can become injured or dysfunctional in a few key ways:

1) Overt trauma, such as muscle strain or tear.  This is usually a pretty obvious situation involving a large force, an awkward position, an unwelcome “popping” sound might make an appearance, pain, inflammation, bruising, (all that fun stuff) and a significant recovery time.

2) Repetitive Strain; where a lower force is applied to the same tissue over and over and over again.  This also eventually results in pain, inflammation and decreased functional capacity.  Common examples of this type of injury are “Tennis elbow” and Achilles’ Tendonitis.

3) Constant Pressure or Tension.  This is usually associated with a postural strain, or a prolonged isometric contraction.  The tension/pressure/contraction limits blood flow and thus oxygen delivery.  Our muscles NEED oxygen and when they don’t get it, fibrotic tissue gets deposited, shortening the muscles, decreasing their ability to contract and lowering their threshold for pain.

Our bodies repair the damage, after going through some inflammation, with fibrotic tissue, to start.  This carries with it some difficulties, including: those repair muscles developing adhesions with things they shouldn’t, shortened muscles altering posture and muscle activation patterns leading to bad biomechanical habits.  This is muscle dysfunction.

We can carry these muscle dysfunctions with us for years and not have them be a problem.  We are very adept at making reasonable compensations for muscle dysfunctions.  Only after a faulty motor pattern, or  poor biomechanics leads to another repetitive strain injury does it become a problem, or when we decide to try and take our training to the “next level” and things don’t respond the way we expect.

This is where seeking appropriate treatment for those dysfunctional muscles comes in.  Much like training for muscle hypertrophy, all the changes we’re hoping for are not going to happen in one session!

A.R.T.® or Active Release Techniques® is on treatment that I’ve found to work very well at addressing this dysfunction, but there are lots of effective techniques out there.

With A.R.T., often there will be some improvement after one treatment.  Typically 3 to 5 sessions are required to effectively address an issue.  So when you go in for a treatment and you can lift your arm to shoulder height, but your goal is to lift it all the way over your head…don’t be disappointed when you can only lift it 3/4 of the way there after 1 session.  Stick with your treatments and don’t set your expectations for yourself too low!  Just because you’ve “ALWAYS” had a bad shoulder since that one accident x number of years ago, for example, doesn’t mean you have to give up on ever throwing a football again!…get it checked out and assessed properly.