ART and Graston Technique

I have a few things floating around in my head that I want to write about, and I hope to get them out before the end of the year. First – I want to write about how I *think* I am recovering from the hip/quad injury that has been plaguing me since late September.

After nearly two months of very little improvement in my quad, I began visiting a chiropractor/sports medicine practitioner in late November. I had never been to a chiropractor before, but I was interested in finding the root cause of this injury–rather than just continuing to medicate and rest–and determining if there were linkages among the pain in my quad and hip and the tightness in my back and hamstrings.

Right before Thanksgiving I started sessions with this chiropractor. I went twice a week for about three weeks, and now I’m down to once a week, and will have a longer break coming up over the holidays. The treatments started with Active Release Technique (ART), and progressed to Graston technique. Both techniques are designed to break up scar tissue and free up your muscles to slide naturally (google ART and Graston for much more technical descriptions).

In ART, he presses down hard on my muscle while I rotate or bend my leg, lying down on a table. I can feel pressure, but not really pain per se. Graston is a much more intense approach. Wearing shorts, I lay down on the table and he takes these blunt metal instruments and slides/scrapes them along the inflamed areas. When he hits a spot of adhesions, or scar tissue, it hurts a lot more and feels “gritty”, as I can feel all the hard little bits of muscle that have healed improperly. He’ll do this continuously for a minute or two and just as it starts to feel kind of tortuous, he stops.

Medical implements or torture devices?

After the first Graston session, I literally did not have any quad pain at all the next morning, for the first time since this all started. After the second session, I was able to run short distances again (1 to 2 miles at a time). Now it has been about two weeks and I have been running distances of 2-4 miles at a time without a problem during or after.

I have also been doing squats daily; the chiro showed me that I was doing squats all wrong, and speculated that weak glutes led to a hip/quad weakness. In addition to squats, I am foam rolling, tiger tailing, stretching, and doing exercises to strengthen my glutes, hips, and core every day. This is the first time I have really stuck with a PT/strengthening routine so religiously, but if it will help me heal faster, I am all for it. I’ve also been going to Pilates about once a week and trying to fit in 1-2 sessions at the gym to use the stationery bike or elliptical.

I have missed a few days of running and PT stuff this week due to a work trip during which working out was really not an option, and I spent a lot of time sitting in airplanes, cars, meetings, etc. I noticed this morning on my way to the chiro that my hip was unusually tight. He really dug into the hip and glute muscles which hurt, but hurt so good. When it hurts, you know he is getting the right spot, and it is the “good” kind of pain that lets you feel looser and lighter afterwards (and also leads to some terrific bruises). I am hoping that this return of hip tightness is a reaction to a few days of not being active, and will loosen up in another day or two.

I also let him adjust my neck/upper back once, which loosened up my tight neck and shoulders. The feeling of being adjusted freaked me out a little too much to continue doing that though; I know it is perfectly safe but I can’t bring myself to do that again. Something about the cracking and the sudden twisting motion of my neck…yikes. But I did get my lower back adjusted this morning and that felt fabulous.

I feel so much better now that I am getting to the root cause of these issues and hopefully will be able to get back to distance running without lingering issues. I’m still hesitant to say that I am totally in the clear, but I am really thrilled that I have improved so much, after two months of almost no improvement. The chiro says that I can get right back into regular running and train for the DC Rock N Roll Half-Marathon in March (good thing, since I’m already signed up for it and never dreamed I would be sidelined this long). I really hope that I continue to get better and don’t manage to re-injure myself. I am dying to do more, but I also know that I have lost fitness now and I won’t be able to pick up where I left off.

Anyway, that’s my story with ART and Graston. I’m not done yet so I am hesitant to say it has totally fixed me, but it’s certainly done more than conventional medicine was doing. Here’s hoping for a good start to 2013!


1 thought on “ART and Graston Technique

  1. Pingback: Paris Marathon Training | Kathy Q. Runs

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