Mean Thumb or Magic Hands?

I have mentioned before that I often go to a Sports Chiropractor for ART.  Many have asked what it is, why they should do it, how often, etc.

From my doctor's website ...

What is Active Release Techniques (ART)?

Active Release Techniques (or ART) is a patented technique for treating problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Unlike a massage, the A.R.T treatment is designed to restore normal tissue function and range of motion.

Scar tissue, or connective tissue adhesions, can accumulate as a result of over-used muscles, acute injury, or simply repetitive stress from everyday activities. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength and pain, and possibly feelings of tingling, numbness and weakness. ART works to remove the adhesions in order to restore normal texture, motion and function of the soft tissue, and to release any entrapped nerves or blood vessels.



What is an ART treatment like?

The ART provider uses his 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. The ART treatment protocols allow providers to provide individualized care by identifying and correcting the specific problems that are affecting each patient.

Can ART help me?

Many conditions can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. Many times patients are pleasantly surprised when they get fast and substantial improvement from ART, where treatments by other health care providers had not been effective. 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 treated successfully with ART.

So now the runner truth version.  I didn't just have a great desire to go to a chiropractor.  Frankly, I know some people with chiro horror stories, and I've always been mortified of chiros.  I'm also not really injury prone, so I never really saw the need for much.  I don't stretch, I rarely foam roll, I only occassionally ice, and somehow manage to get through without major issue.  I know, I know... I should be better about some of these things.  I'm a bad example, what can I say?

Late March, I got an injury.  Nothing big... a sprained foot.  And yes, you can laugh - it was not from running.  It was from trying to carry laundry to my bedroom and stepping on a sheet that was on the hardwood floor and slipping.  I'm a clutz. 

The pain was noticeable but not unbearable.  My main question was whether or not I was making it worse by running on it.  My friend, EW, recommended I go see Dr. Grimm.  And, well, you see... EW is like the Godfather.  When he tells you to go do something, you do it.  Mind you, he was the first person to tell me about compression socks, and we all know my love for all things compression, so I pretty much believe anything he says.
So I went.  I was clueless. I didn't have a clue what he might do.  I just didn't want him to crack my body.  Yeah right.  Asking a chiro not to pop anything is like asking a dog not to fart.  He popped my ankle and manipulated my foot in a way that had me squirming and grunting.  It wasn't pretty.  But miraculously the next day, I felt a tremendous improvement.
Soon that injury was long gone after weekly visits to the aptly named Dr. Magic Hands.  I tried to break up with him... really, I did.  But every time I had an ache or pain or soreness, I couldn't help dialing the phone... every. single. time.  And he would dig in.  And trust me, "dig in" is an understatement.  He's also known as Dr. Mean Thumb.  And I'm pretty sure on more than one occassion, his assistant, Susan, has asked if I was going into labor the way I was hyperventilating and squealing.  Sometimes I would be sore the day after, sometimes not, but without fail, I would notice a physical improvement almost immediately.
And he has a way about finding the real problem... many of my issues stem from a tight right quad.  It's not always the part that hurts that is the cause of the issue... it often stems from compensating for a biomechanical issue elsewhere.  He never fails to find the real problem.  How do I know?  Well, you see, when he digs that mean thumb into a problem spot... even if you just thought it was mild stiffness... well, it hurts.  The foam roller ain't got nothing on a good ART session on a problem area.  He can do the same thing to the opposite side, where there's no issue, and it's not that big of a deal.  Many times I've gone in with what I thought were pretty minor twinges, and I'm shocked at how painful the area is when he really digs in.  Fortunately, it's a sign he's working the right area and making progress in fixing the problem. 
Now that I've described how much it sometimes hurts, I'll tell you that I am 100% convinced that it keeps me running at the mileage I do day in and day out.  I recover faster, have less aches and pains, and generally feel better.  The doc will tell you that ART will make you faster... I certainly can't disprove this thought, so I'm going to go with it.  It makes sense that if he's improving your range of motion that it would improve your overall capability.
What to expect?  Your first appointment is probably going to take 30-60 minutes depending on the issues you're having.  Subsequent visits are usually much shorter.  My typical appointment is 15-20 minutes.  If you're injured, you will probably be asked to go once or twice a week for a bit and then the frequency will get less as you heal.  When I am feeling in pretty good shape, I keep my appointments to every other week.  My insurance, FYI, covers half.  Some plans cover more, some less.  I try not to recommend ART to people without warning them that you can't just go once.  So plan on the investment to keep your body functioning.  To me, it's worth every cent to keep me running and feeling good.
So how to get started... go to http://www.activerelease.com/ and click "find a provider".  Per Dr. Magic Hands, it's more important to ask how long they've been doing ART than to just look at their certifications.  There are 8 certifications listed on the site.  (Mind you Dr. Magic Hands has all 8 certs.)  But if you're even remotely close to the Dallas-area... skip the search and just go to my doc, because well, it's not just anywhere that you can find a Dr. Magic Hands.  (Besides, his assistant, Susan, is pretty amazing too... and has been so kind to watch Paige during every single appointment.)  Be sure to tell him that I sent you.  (And yes, he knows what his blog nickname is... )