Active Release Therapy (ART) session

March 12, 2012 § 13 Comments

I just got home from a session at FITT with Ian Lusins, a licensed massage therapist who’s travelled all over the country learning soft-tissue massage techniques.  I found him because he is certified in Active Release Therapy, something I’ve seen mentioned a lot in running magazines, by runners on their blogs and tweets, and, most recently, on running injury forums.  So I found Ian, who has a great office inside a physical therapy/personal training/holistic health organization here in Baton Rouge, and went to see him this morning.

He didn’t knead me into oblivion or pop my joints or really do much manipulation at all. He had me lay on my side and hold onto the side of the table and then he pulled my leg back, keeping my knee bent, and twisting slightly.  I could feel it all through my glute and hip flexor.  Then he rubbed massage cream on my thigh and worked upward on my IT band.  To be honest, he kept referring to a lot of muscles and ligaments whose names I can’t remember–he mentioned the TFL a lot and also said that what I described sounded like it could be bursitis.

The main thing I came away with, though (besides getting off the table and not feeling that tightness anymore), was how much more I need to be doing to strengthen my core, glutes and hip flexors.  He had me stand normally, relaxed, and then said I have the “runner’s slump,” which, as he demonstrated, is not an attractive posture, let me tell you right now.  It most highly resembles a Neanderthal.  Tummy pooched forward, chest slightly leaned back, chin jutting out.  He also said that long-distance runners get into a highly-efficient gait–a nice way of saying that we shuffle.  Instead of using the powerful muscles of the glutes and quads, we just shorten our stride and cruise.  This puts stress on the hip flexors and other, smaller muscle groups that aren’t designed for that kind of repetitive movement.

He gave me a few exercises to do and also said to email him so he could send me more.

  • Lay on your back, knees bent.  Put your thumb under your spine about where your belly button is, fingers outstretched (this is L3).  Tighten your glutes and lift your belly button toward the ceiling.  Do that 25 times.  When that gets easy, lift one foot off the floor.
  • In the same position, keeping spine pressed down, lift one foot, bring knee to chest, then stretch back out, touching your toe to the ground.  Repeat 25 times on each leg.  When that gets easy, stretch your leg out straight and bring higher, then lower to the ground.  When that gets easy, lift both feet at the same time, bring knees in, then stretch out.  This whole time, make sure your spine doesn’t lift from the ground.
  • Planks, baby.  Start eating them for breakfast.

Sitting, as I had surmised, is also no bueno for el hip flexors.  He really encouraged me to be more holistic about my fitness, instead of so eye-on-the-prize, eagle-eye, get-out-the-door-and-run.  The body is a temple and, as Ian said, many people don’t appreciate what it can do until they’re left unable to even walk without pain.  My ultimate goal is to be active and healthy until I die, not just to set as many PRs as I can while I’m young.

If you’re in Baton Rouge, make an appointment with Ian.  He was awesome.  If not, and you’re dealing with injury, try to find an ART practitioner.  I’m glad I did.

My dad sent me this picture from the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon last weekend.  I love it and wanted to share!

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