Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Soft Tissue Damage and Active Release Technique

Towards the end of March, I was out for an easy mid-afternoon run when I felt something “tweak” on the outside of my right knee. Not thinking much about it I continued running. Within a half mile I could barely put any pressure on my leg and I ended up walking back home.

After a quick Google search I smacked on an ice-pack and kept it elevated for a few days with a steady flow of Motrin. After the third day I decided to run again. My typical easy 9 miler turned into a very short and very painful 1 mile limp. This wasn’t good! I now had less than 3 weeks until my next race, a 200 mile relay meant for 12 runners that I would be taking on with only 3 other Ultra runners. A few more days passed before sending out the “hey guys, do you want to replace me?” warning flag. I was met with 3 solid, “naw man, let’s do this!”.
My knee held up well for the first 15 miles, thanks to being heavily taped with KT Tape. The pain level increased from a “3” to a very sharp “9” on my next short 2.7 mile leg. I had just completed a marathon and was in the most pain I had ever felt from running. Now this was NOT good!

After returning home I took a week off before going out and trying to run a mile. Big mistake! Now not only did my knee hurt while I ran, but my calf, IT Band, Knee, EVERYTHING hurt all the time. I went back to my good friend Google looking for answers. After finding nothing but words like “scope”, “surgery” , and “running retirement” I switched over to Twitter. My cousin Jason, is the Co-Founder of “Competitive Edge Performance” in Tampa Florida and quickly responded with three words I have not heard before “soft tissue damage” and highly recommended that I look into the Active Release Technique or (ART) to begin the recovery process. Once again, back to the Google!
I found that Active Release Technique treats soft tissue Injuries, relieves pain, and restores normal tissue function. ART is a new and extremely effective approach to treating soft tissue injuries and the resulting pain. It is a patented method of treatment developed by Dr. Michael Leahy and is utilized by more than 3500 certified providers, including medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers worldwide. The technique is very popular with professional athletes and teams (NFL, NHL, NBA, etc.) and is used regularly by amateur and professional athletes alike, not only to help with rapid injury recovery, but also for improving their athletic performance. In recent years this method of treatment has begun to gain recognition among the general public as well, as more certified practitioners utilizing ART have entered the healthcare arena. (source: http://www.activerelease.com/)

I quickly began treatment with Dr Titus out of Savannah, GA and felt the effect of the therapy after the first day. So what does the treatment consist of? It is a series of massage techniques that focuses on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves in the affected areas to combat the overused muscles.
Typically soft tissue damage will occur in over-used muscles in one of three ways:
  1.        Pulls, tears or collisions
  2.     Micro Trauma (small tears)
  3.     Hypoxia (not getting enough oxygen)
Each of these can cause the injured area to develop scar tissue in the affected area. Once the scar tissue binds up, it ties down tissues that should normally move freely. As the scar tissue continues to build up, muscles become shorter and weaker, additional tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. ART directly focuses on these key areas to return the runner back to the road.

The personal response that I have had after two treatments has been significant enough to have me post about my treatment and has turned my outlook around to the point that I am mentally in the Fall race planning mentality now. I highly recommend looking into Active Release Technique to any and all Ultra Runners that that are experiencing an over use injury. Just get on the Google and look it up in your area!

See you on the trail…



  1. Due to its success and efficiency in treating injuries and medical conditions on the patients, active release technique has gained popularity all over the world. Famous athletes all around the world are now relishing the benefits of this therapy including NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.

    In an ART or active release technique, the massage therapist examines and evaluates the patient by feeling the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue. This is in order for the therapist to learn of the current status of the patient's soft tissue. After having this information, he or she then begins by using his or her hand on the various areas of the body and starts on working with the specific protocols used on the various dysfunction muscle areas of the patient's body. Adhesions are then removed out of the patient's body to create a better condition on the physical condition of the patient.
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  2. I am trying to learn more about the body and massage procedures. This is great because I was trying to learn more about active release therapy. I am going to try hard to learn all I can. http://www.drniss.com/