This is the 3nd installment of my "Training Roadblocks Series". If you have not read my "Beginning My Cycling Journey" I would recommend you start there as this story will make more sense. You can find my "Training Road Blocks Part I Here" And my "Training Roadblocks Part II Here".
If your like me, you are probably wondering what A.R.T. is. No its not an Art Class :P. ART is an acronym for Active Release Technique (ART). ART is a soft tissue mobilization technique that treats damaged soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia and nerves. The goal of ART is to restore mobility of the soft tissue, which eliminates pain.
Often times, the mobility of soft tissue becomes restricted when an acute trauma (sprain or tear) or cumulative trauma (tendonitis, bursitis or carpal tunnel syndrome) occurs. Muscles are made up of tiny filaments of tissue that run parallel to each other. This allows the muscle to move freely. When the muscle is injured from trauma, the filaments tear. The body reacts by repairing the damaged tissue with fibrotic tissue (dense scar tissue). The fibrotic tissue causes the muscle to become shorter and this decreases strength. The tension on tendons causes tendonitis and eventually, leads to compensatory motion, which causes pain.
ART is the one of the first therapies designed specifically to treat these soft tissue problems. Trained professionals, such as physical therapists, use ART in conjunction with biomechanical analysis and other manual therapy to study the movement problem. ART has a success rate of over 90 percent.
To find a ART Professional near you click this link. You can type in your area code and it will give you all the providers in your area.
You are probably asking if it works, or if it is just another "Snake Oil". That is a really good question. I searched out an ART provider and attended two sessions. Keep in mind that most insurance companies do not cover ART so you will pay around $50 out of pocket each time. You will usually need to go once a week until the issue resolves. That is $200 a month.. OUCH!!! So does it work?
I really wanted to think so.. I was really excited for my first session. My provider happened to also be a Chiropractor but helped athletes train for Iron Man's and was a cyclist as well so I figured this was my guy. He was a little further out of my area, but the guy that was closer to me was booked out a month and I really wanted to get a handle on this so I could get a good season of training in.
I showed up and was put on a back roller while I was waiting, which I have always loved. When I got back to PT office the Dr. made sure that I did not have any joint damage by moving my knee in different area's to see if it caused pain. I don't have any joint damage so I was fine. He quickly agreed that I in fact had Tendinitis and thought that it was probably from overuse. I had been told this a lot of the last year, but didn't feel like I had overused it. But I am known for always trying to push things to fast. I want to be the best now.. Not tomorrow.. LOL
He started off by warming up my muscles in my knee by rubbing them. He then grabbed these things that looked like butter knifes and used them to push deep into my muscle to "Make my tendon longer". The belief is that the tendon shortens with all the micro tears and needs to be lengthened back out to relieve the pain and repair your tendon for the long term. It hurt like hell.. kind of like a deep tissue massage.
I happen to like deep tissue massages so it was not too bothersome. As he was digging the ART tool into my knee he would turn my knee into different positions to get to different places. After doing that for about 10 mins he asked me if I had ever had acupuncture. I said no, and he said that I was about to.. I'm not a huge needle fan (who is) so I was a little concerned of that. He put about 4 needles in my knee and one sent a shock down my leg. He then tapped up my knee with some tape called "Rock Tape". This has been really popular lately since it gives you more mobility than a brace would.
After that he did some chiropractic techniques such as popping my hips and things like that.
The next day my knee felt a lot better. It felt like a lot of the pressure had been relieved. So I was ok with making another appointment. The next appointment was kinda strange. He didn't do any acupuncture, or really use those ART tools. He just kinda rubbed my knee and then popped my hips, and tapped my knee. Fastest $50 I have spent. After that appointment I was not to stoked so I decided that I didn't have the money to waste on this.
Conclusion.. I think that Physical Therapy works far better than anything that I have ever tried. And the good thing about it... Its free.. Most of what you would learn from a PT is online from other PT's. That is what has kept my knee feeling strong. I think that I will try the ART provider that is closer to me once I have more money to do so. I kinda think that going to a Chiropractor may have been my issue. The guy that is closer to me is a Physical therapist. I don't feel like my ART provider stayed true to the techniques. So I hope that I am able to change my perception of this with a different provider.
Build your miles slowly and don't over do it or you will get sidelined. Make sure that you are just not putting in riding time. You need to be stretching and doing strength training to keep those muscles ready to put in those heavy climbs and long miles. You need to take care of the whole package. If you do that and put in time to those area's, you will grain strength that will be able endure what you want to do.
Tell me, Have you ever tried ART? What was your experience like?
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