Do you remember art class and how much fun it was? You got to paint whatever you wanted and you couldn’t be wrong b/c it was your interpretation of the object in front of you? Art was always fun for me and while I can’t draw or paint I enjoy because it allows me to express myself. I guess this blog is a form of art since I get to express myself with my points of view and while others may think I am wrong or agree with me 100% in the end this is my interpretation of the object in front of me.
So today I am starting to rebuild The Machine (that is what Greg’s son ‘little man’ calls me) and that means that a new training cycle has begun and I am going to be incorporating ART class into this cycle. ART stands for Active Release Technique and is a movement-based treatment for soft tissues. I have been going to Dr. Tim St. Onge of St. Onge Chiropractic for nearly two months now and when I say that it has been a tremendous help I am understating it. I first went to see Dr. St Onge because of issues with my right calf muscle. This was about 4 weeks prior to the Las Vegas Marathon and in those 4 weeks the technique removed all pain from my calf so that I could run the marathon pain-free.
Dr St Onge is a runner so he knows how important it is to be able to tie the laces and get out there and cure the world of all its diseases and problems, at least that is what I’m thinking about when I run. When I told him what I had coming up for 2012 we put together a structured schedule so that I would be going to see him every two weeks for maintenance and increase the visits should I need to. We also talked about incorporating yoga into my schedule as that will help with my flexibility since I am not the best at stretching post exercise. During this conversation I asked Dr St Onge if he would be willing to answer a few questions for me for the blog and he happily (my interpretation) obliged.
Here are my questions and his answers:
1- What is your background
I spent my later high school and college years racing bicycles and after college signed up for and completed the Ironman in Lake Placid. For the past few years I have been running marathons and competing in duathlons.
As far as my education is concerned, I graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in Exercise Sports Science, from a massage therapy school in California and finally from Parker Chiropractic School. During the time leading up to beginning Chiropractic School, I worked as a sports massage therapist and personal trainer. I received my full Body Active Release Technique certification before graduating from Chiropractic School. I have been practicing Chiropractic since 2005.
2- What is ART?
Active Release is a soft tissue technique which helps to improve the flexibility and circulation of the muscles, tendons and nerves. This helps to relieve pain from inflammation and tissue degeneration. ART in combination with Chiropractic and therapeutic exercise is beneficial for a wide range of problems involving muscles, joints and nerves.
3- How does ART work?
ART is a combination of stretching and massage. A muscle is selected for treatment and is placed in a position of maximal shortness. The doctor places his hand on the muscle being treated, creates tension on that muscle and then the patient lengthens the muscle. ART works by increasing circulation in the tissue and breaking adhesions caused by inflammation and degeneration.
4- What are the benefits of ART
ART can benefit people in 2 ways. First, if a person has a soft tissue injury. ART can be used to decrease the time it will take for the injury to heal and also improve the healing process. ART is also beneficial as a preventive measure, especially for athletes who are pushing their bodies in training and racing by, improving tissue circulation and decreasing adhesions caused by the inflammatory process.
5- How often should a person have ART performed?
If a person has a current injury that we are dealing with, I like to see them 2-3 times per week. As a preventative treatment or to maintain a chronic condition, a treatment every 2-6 weeks seems to be beneficial. There are a number of factors that must be considered to come up with a more definitive treatment frequency for each individual patient.
6- Any areas that won’t benefit from ART?
Any areas involving the muscles, joints, or nerves can benefit from ART treatment, however, there are some conditions that do not respond well to ART or at least ART alone. An example would be a completely torn knee ligament (ART is however beneficial for post surgery recovery from a torn knee ligament). ART would be of no benefit to an organ related problem such as low back pain caused by kidney infection. When a patient comes to see me, my first job is to rule out a condition that requires a medical referral. My second job is to determine what combination of ART, Chiropractic manipulation, Therapeutic exercise, training modification and nutritional support I can utilize to help the patient achieve their goals.
7- Typical injuries that runners/triathletes suffer that ART has been most effective?
The injuries that runners and triathletes suffer generally fall into a category called overuse or repetitive use injury. I see a lot of IT band syndrome, Achilles Tendinitis, muscle strains, Hip and low back pains, and the occasional overuse to the shoulder. When it comes to treating an endurance athlete, show me your injury and I will show you your weak bio-mechanical link. The pain shows up in a number of different areas but the problem is always the same: poor bio-mechanics, training errors, old worn out shoes, and bad diet.
In addition to these questions and answers I found a couple of articles that discuss ART and how it can help prevent injury as well as be able to keep an athlete’s body in peak condition for optimal performance. The first article is in the November 2011 issue of Competitor magazine (did not find it online) by Mackenzie Lobby in which she points out that ART helps to break up scar tissue that has built up over time through repetitive stress from training.
The second article I read was on Active.com and it gave you some steps on how to perform FAST (Facilitated Active Stretch Technique) on your own. I tried the technique and while it seemed to mimic the feeling I get at Dr St Onge’s office it isn’t exactly the same. I think that because you are doing it to yourself you are not going to put as much pressure on the muscle as another person would, and in addition to that there is the fear that I wasn’t doing it right. To read how to perform FAST click [HERE.]
Do You Have Experience With ART? How Has It Helped You? Has It Not Helped You?