Massage Therapy: Keeping The Body Moving- by Grannygear

unlock cutThat image above from the Trigger Point Performance Therapy website makes a good point.  If there is one thing I have noticed as an aging athlete is that the ‘slings and arrows’ of past injuries and stress on the body tend to come back to haunt us like Marley’s ghost (no, not Bob Marley).  I can name pretty much every past injury of any significance and how they are affecting me still, if only in a small way.  And over the years I have had repetitive motion issues come up, typically as mileage or effort increases, and I have worked my way through all those to a reasonable end.  But it took a bit of Sherlock Holmes sleuthing to understand what my body was trying to tell me.  I have found that long time athletes, whatever the sport or activity, get pretty good at figuring out nutrition, limits, do’s and dont’s, and how to listen to and know your body.  The price of doing otherwise is a higher likelihood of chronic injuries or frustrations with pain or performance limitations.

Another thing that happens is that we get used to what we ‘feel like’ and the accompanying restrictions. Normal may not be what we have to settle for.  From the Trigger Point Therapy website:

AWARENESS

Self awareness is everything. Most people don’t understand that what you tolerate you accept, but it is a reality. Think about it. The more you sit in traffic, the more you get used to the traffic. Eventually you say, “this is normal for me, the traffic isn’t that bad, I barely notice it any longer.” Yet, there is a non-moving mass of cars surrounding you — this is called grid-lock. Loss of tissue tolerance and the art of aging is similar in nature. The physical difference is basically the same, you become “locked” and consider it “normal”. I really want you to think about this; what you tolerate, you accept.  With Trigger Point Performance Therapy you are able to see/feel what you’ve been tolerating. You become aware of the limitations AND the potential you have as the TPPT tools bring needed body awareness.

trigger point 2

We ask a lot of our bodies and it deserves our careful attention.  So while we might be able to ‘shake it off’ and ‘push through the pain’ when we are younger, age and wear and tear lets us know that that ain’t gonna’ happen anymore.  I have found that more often than not, a good regimen of stretching will tell me what is going on with my body.  Tight areas point to problems, even if it is not immediately in the pain area.  I get lazy about it, because stretching is not all that pleasant or convenient, but I know better and the more I keep at it, the better I perform and the less issues I have.

But sometimes that is not enough and I have been doing more and more work with foam rollers and other types of massage therapy devices to work on problem areas.  Case in point:  During a strenuous, multi day bikepacking trip, I had some real pain at the underside of the outer, right ankle.  I was thinking it might have been triggered by a lot of hiking in cycling shoes, but was not sure.  It hurt to walk, but not ride.  It took a good week or more to go away and never came back.  Till the other day, at least.  Then during the Rebecca’s Private Gold Rush, I had the same issue but this time with the left ankle in the same area and I never walked on that ride.  It began with some odd spasms in the left calf muscle area but nothing much else and then when I dismounted at the finish, I found I could barely walk.  The pain was acute.  I was a bit concerned as I hate being limited by something like this and I always wonder if father time is telling me to back off and pick up the TV remote.  That would suck.

So back at home, and limping around, I was wondering what was up.  I was icing it and even got some cold laser therapy to get the inflamed area to lay down a bit.   After some stretching, which did not tell me much, I was doing some foam roller work and found a “trigger point” area waaaay up almost to the knee and deep into the calf muscle group.  Interesting.  I went to my chiropractor, a pretty all around smart guy and ardent cyclist, and he did some symmetry comparisons, finding nothing wrong there, but did agree that I was very tight and sore in the spot I had self discovered.  I turned to trigger point therapy with some of the products we will highlight later and worked through the tight and sore area.  And, to go a bit further, I looked at a possible issue with cleat placement that may have contributed to the root cause.

trigger point 1

Now I could have just taken a lot of vitamin I and sucked it up, laid off for a bit, then went back at it.  But that can be a bad plan.  It is far better to get to know your body and keep tabs on it, digging in to issues like this and looking for the cause before it becomes chronic.  We will always have times when we just push long enough and hard enough to make our body say ouch.  That is just part of being an endurance athlete.  But we can give ourselves the best chance we can by paying attention and being preventative.

While consulting a professional medical-type person may often be the right thing to do, be careful of the “take two aspirin, rest, and call me if it still hurts” treatment.  Before I went to my chiro friend, I already had a clue as to what was going on and was looking for a bit more scrutiny from knowledgeable hands.  A sports centered doctor or physical therapist might be good as well.  But none of them are you.  You are the one who hurts…you are the one that knows what and how you are feeling. Learn to be your own best resource first and back it up with expert advice.

So let’s take a look at some products that might help you stay supple and out of pain during the ride and help you recover post-ride.  How you use these is up to you, but there is a wealth of information on the internet on using foam rollers and trigger point type devices.

The Stick:  ”A Toothbrush for muscles.”

I picked up one of these at Interbike a few years ago and have used it a lot.  I do wish I had one that was slightly more flexible, but they have models in different lengths and firmness levels.  They travel well and with one of these, a compact foam roller and a massage ball, you could have a traveling road show of self massage therapy.

the stick

Trigger Point Performance Therapy: Unlock your body

I picked up a set of the Ultimate 6™ Kit at Interbike 2013 and used the smaller TP FootBaller™ & Baller Block™ to work through that tricky area behind the calf muscle.  It hurt so good but it worked.  The book that comes with it is very runner focused but the products cross over well and in no time you will be figuring out how to work through trouble areas and increase suppleness in those hard worked muscles.  Nice products and very well made.  The Ultimate 6™ Kit is $154.00 suggested retail.

trigger point 3

Go Fit:  Awaken tired muscles.  Relieve sore ones.

I sampled a couple of products from Go Fit that they provided me.  One was a pretty snazzy foam roller that was a PVC pipe wrapped in textured squishy stuff.  Sorry for the technical terms there.  It was way fancier than my solid foam-type roller from the local sports store, but I have to say that for some reason I like it better than the old one I have.  I am not sure why, but I found it to be just as effective yet more comfortable and it does not break down and deform under my body weight.  It is great for the quad and calf muscles but can be surprisingly painful when you first start out.  However, you control how much weight the roller bears and that controls the level of discomfort.  I love a foam roller and the Go Fit one works well for me.

go fit roller

I also sampled a Go-Ball that allows you to target problem areas with a semi-solid ball and leash to get it into areas that may be tough to access by yourself.  I have used this type of therapy tool for the gluteus maximus area…butt, etc…and this beats a tennis ball hands down.   Go Fit is also debuting the MPM system and here is the press release for that.

go fit ballgo fit ballgo fit MPM system

INTRODUCING GOFIT’S NEW MUSCLE PAIN MANAGEMENT (MPM) COLLECTION, THE MOST COMPLETE THERAPY BASED TRAINING SYSTEM AVAILABLE FOR RETAIL SALE
The Nation’s Leading Handheld Fitness Supplier Announces Five Brand New Therapy Based Products, Hitting Shelves From September 2013-January 2014

“With the increasing popularity of high intensity training workouts such as Cross Fit, P90X and competitive obstacle races, we recognized the need for more quality equipment to help aid our athletes, as well as an expanding aging population in their pre-workout mobility and post-workout recovery. That’s why we decided to introduce our new Muscle Pain Management products, which help alleviate muscle soreness through massage, minimize fatigue and prevent further injury for any type of enthusiast.”
 says Richard Davis, Co-Founder of GoFit.

1 & 2: Extreme Massage Roller (13” and 24”): The surface of the GoFit Extreme Roller has firm bumps with an egg crate design. They work like the thumbs of a massage therapist. The bumps continuously knead the contours of your body, gently stretching soft tissue (muscle and fascia) in multiple directions. This action erodes trigger points, helps restore flexibility, and brings quick relief to common types of muscular pain. By design, the bumps are firmer than muscle tissue, but much softer than bone, so they deflect out of the way if they contact your spine or other bony protrusions.

PRICE: 13” $40, 24” $60

3: Extreme Massage Bar: The GoFit Extreme Massage Bar is built using the same innovative egg crate design as the Extreme Massage Roller (above). Utilizing a ball-bearing “roller-pin” action, the bar if smooth and easy to use. While most other massage bars on the market target only the surface tension, with their shallow ridges, GoFit’s Extreme Massage Bar bears deep, firm but flexible bumps to gently stretch soft tissue to alleviate knots..This action mimics sports massage and trigger point therapy at a fraction of the cost.

PRICE: $30

4: GoBall: The GoFit GoBall targets sore muscles for instant pain-relief, relieving knots, trigger points and muscle soreness. Reach your back,
shoulders, glutes, legs, and other spots in need of deep-tissue massage. Leaning on a wall or laying down, simply press and roll. The cord helps you target areas of pain and keeps the ball in place. The ball’s density and no-slip rubber surface is ideal for trigger point release. You decide how much pressure you want to apply to your target-point areas for maximum relief.

PRICE: $24.99

5: GoRoller: When exercising on the go, increase flexibility and speed up recovery with the GoFit Go Roller. Perfect for deep tissue therapy and self-massage,
this is the perfect tool to awaken tired, aching muscles. The GoRoller comes equip with a complimentary Myofascial Release Ball. With it’s compact design, the ball provides target-point therapy on the go.

PRICE: $29.99

ABOUT GOFIT
: Founded in 1999, GoFit has quickly developed into one of the most respected and recognized hand held fitness manufacturers in the nation. GoFit was the first in the industry to pioneer the idea that “knowledge is power” by pairing top-of-the-line products together with innovative educational content. Today, the company offers over 250+ quality, hand-held fitness products—ranging from stability balls, yoga mats, power tubes and kettlebells, to weighted resistance, balance and core performance products. The brand is distributed worldwide, with over 5,000 leading retailers in the U.S., including Academy Sports & Outdoors, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Sport Chalet, MC Sports, Scheels All Sport, REI and more. GoFit has been featured in high profile media outlets including The New York Times, LA Times, Fitness Magazine, The Today Show, CNBC, E! Entertainment Television, Oxygen, OK! Magazine and many more.

I have no background in the sciences behind all this stuff and I would not know a Soleus from a Lexus but I do know what makes me work better and lets me work harder without injury.  Get to know your body and keep it working the best it can be.  It is the only one you have.

NOTE:  The Go Fit products were provided at no cost to twentynineinches.com.  Others were purchased for my own use at discount.  We were not paid or bribed and we gave our honest opinions of this product.