Massage techniques for the lower leg

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog, Videos

In a previous post I discussed trigger points.  Today I wanted to post a short clip of my working with an athlete who came in with Achilles soreness from training.  Notice the shaking movements.  This allows me to get the tight trigger points to relax without causing soreness after treatment, which is often the case with deep tissue techniques.

 

Trigger points explained

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

There's no doubt anyone who has exercised has trigger points. Anyone who has had a massage knows a trigger point by a painful lump found in muscles.

Janet Travell (most noted as personal physician to President Kennedy) had observed during a muscle biopsy that stretching or piercing the fascia led to a pain pattern similar to the muscle and called this myofascial pain.

Trigger points are focal points of painful (sometimes not) activity on myofascial tissues that interfere with normal muscle function. Trigger points can be active (pain present), or latent (no pain present). They are easily identified by finding taut bands, tender nodules and areas of tropic changes.

Travell's text outlines perpetuating factors of trigger points. They include mechanical (posture, clothing, unequal limb length etc.), metabolic (deficiency in iron or folic acid), endocrine related (hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency often from lack of sleep), inflammatory based, and from emotional stress.

Trigger points often radiate pain away in various directions (see image below). Identifying areas to be treated followed by good treatment can eliminate both trigger points and pain in clients.

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2014: The year of healthy training and fast racing

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

Recently, Runners World website posted a nice article on resolutions from several professional runners on their goals for 2014

http://www.runnersworld.com/photos/american-elites-new-years-resolutions?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-RunnerStories-_-EliteResolutions

It's clear in nearly all of their goals, it's to stay healthy.  Let's face it, if you are not at 100%, your best performances will not happen.   Common recommendations for healthy training include tracking shoe wear, stretching, and becoming more popular is the use of foam rollers and other variations.  These are all great and economical ways to treat your muscles.

Shoe Wear

There are many websites and articles on this.  My only recommendation, which sounds silly, but I see it happen often, is to choose shoes that fit your mechanics and training environment.  I often see people choose shoes based on color (yikes!).  For the veteran runner, this is something you likely do anyway. Understand there is always give and take.  A stiff shoe has its benefits and its consequences.  A lightweight trainer has it's own benefits and consequences.  Do your research!  I highly recommend reading http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/gaitguys to learn more about how feet work in terms of running.

Stretching

I did my master's thesis on warm-up and stretching on athletes.  Here is what I can tell you:

  • a dynamic warm-up does lead to improvements in power and explosive strength.  In my study, this benefit lasted less than 15 minutes.  What this means is that unless you do your dynamic warm-up on the starting line, it will likely not have the effects written about.  The reasons why this occurs are fairly complicated, and are suited for a physiology-based audience.  Email me if you are really curious.
  • If you can't touch your toes, chances are the rest of your body doesn't move as much as it can and should (unless you have some structural issue limiting the movement). Some argue if a toe touch stretches anything, maybe, maybe not.  My point is if your movements are limited, you need to put in work to fixing them.  If you notice one side happens to be tighter on a particular day, do some extra warm-up and stretching until it feels balanced out.  If you always feel unbalanced, likely you have a posture issue or some other issue that likely needs advanced treatment from a physical therapist, chiropractor and massage therapist combination.
  • I highly recommend post workout stretching routine called Microstretching http://www.microstretching.com/uk/ . When done as prescribed, it does take time.  However, I have used shortened bouts with good success.  The concept is great and the stretches are easy to do and can be applied to other stretches.  I recall a time last spring my group was really tight after warm-up.  I decided to cancel the session and do a microstretching session instead.  Following the 30 minute session, the group felt ready to train.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a cheap way to get some pressure into the muscles to loosen them up and work out some trigger points.  I recommend rolling to be done first, before anything.  I also recommend doing it at the very end of the session.  Use the roller to check various body parts for soreness, tightness, and pain levels.  If you keep a log, track this information as it is invaluable for finding patterns and testing various strategies and routines.

Typical areas that are tight (usually is bands of tight tissue) are the front of your quads (rectus femoris), IT Band, lower back, inner and outer calf, outside of your lower leg (outside shin from knee to ankle), the front of the shin, and upper back in the shoulder blade region alongside the spine.  I would additionally add inner thigh/groin if you know how.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where I’ve come…Part 2

Written by Roger White on . Posted in Blog

This week I got a new massage table, one that might be considered the sports car version of massage tables.  Lightweight, easy to use and carry. After some of the great responses from the last blog post, I wanted to write a continuation of the previous post on those who helped me along the way.

 In 2007, after my first training, I came back to my training facility and scheduled a "recovery Friday" which consisted of 4 or more athletes in my college prep group coming in to get treatment to loosen up their muscles.  I didn't have a table at the time, and proceeded to do them on the floor on an exercise mat.  My knees and back would kill!  These sessions were very valuable, as I found most of the athletes were extremely tight and the muscles were similar to rubbing the wood floor.  I knew to achieve higher levels of performance, more therapy would be needed and I couldn't do it all.  I offered a parent-athlete massage clinic, teaching parents of my athletes how to so simple massage techniques to help their kids.
Later on, I recall one instance where athletes would come over my house, and not having a table, we used the floor, but without the exercise mat and I had to use pillows to brace my knees!  While an athlete is getting my treatment, my oldest daughter, about 1 year old, would pat backs of people, put stuffed animals on and around them, and do all sorts of things innocent things.  It's quite funny, of course, but I was willing to do whatever it took to help those in need.  And best of all, the athletes didn't care, they were willing to do whatever it took on their end too, even if it meant coming on a Friday night at 10pm or lying on the floor while my daughter decorated them with animals.
Soon I was smart and was able to get a new table for cheap on craigslist, which I have used until this week.  The table has been to 3 state finals for track and field, as we have been the only team with a treatment table at the event in those 3 consecutive years (and have had athletes place top 8 all three of those years as well).  It has been to 2 national championships.  The first one was in Baltimore where pre-race work was done in the parking lot of a grocery store because there was no room near the track and warm-up area for a table.  The day before was done in the hotel room, and the table barely squeezed into the room!  When I asked one of the runners about the parking lot in Baltimore, his reply was "Ya, I remember, that really shady neighborhood parking lot!"
I also recall when a Canadian athlete was driving to town for treatment and couldn't cross the border, so I drove to Windsor, Ontario to meet him at 10pm on a Saturday night.  We then went to the university student center building at 11pm and did treatment there (see the picture), while the dozen or so students were studying at various tables around us.  Interestingly, in 2 hours, no one told us to leave!
In part 1 I mentioned Charlie.  There  were times Charlie would spend hours working on athletes in the hotel at international meets, barely having time to watch them race.  Other times, athletes might come over and they would get treatments. He was the type of person who was so generous, he would give the shirt off his back to help his athletes.  Situations are rarely ideal in coaching and therapy.  You make the best of what you have and take advantage of the great opportunities given.  Charlie started out getting a massage school to come out and treat athletes.  Later, when the team had money, they hired a full time therapist, and later would hire Waldemar.
So this new table isn't just a new table, but a symbol of doing whatever it takes to help those I work with.  The same attitude and work ethic my mentors have done for years to achieve great success.
Runners Massage Studio - 2013