At about mile 25 in the Marine Corps Marathon this past October, my right hip began to hurt pretty badly, but I absolutely expected to be hurting in some way by then, so I didn’t think anything of it. Once the race was over and I was walking, I had no pain at all. I waited a few days after the marathon before even attempting a run, and even then, it was barely a jog, but still, my hip began to hurt again. I had a sports massage scheduled for Thursday of that week, so I thought maybe that would do the trick, but it didn’t. The next couple of runs followed the same pattern: fine until about mile three, then my hip would start and the pain would travel down to my knee if I kept going.
Finally, I decided to go to Andy Shetterly at Peak Performance Sports Therapy based on a recommendation from the great people at Bob Roncker’s Running Spot. The first thing Andy did was watch me run a bit. His first comment: “A little tight, I see. Let’s see how flexible you are.” So I did a few exercises and he declared me to be the most inflexible person he’d seen in a while. A dubious distinction, at best.
As I told him about the hip pain I was having he started asking a ton a questions. “Where, exactly does it start? Point to it. OK, then where does it go? Shooting pain, or dull? Does it stop when you stop running?” And plenty more. He also had me move my leg into a few different positions to see if any caused pain. After thoroughly talking through everything, he said, “I’m going to have you feeling better in just two sessions.” Then he explained what Active Release Techniques (ART) are, what it would do for me, and how it will help. The next thirty or so minutes was spent finding and releasing all of the trigger points in my hip and IT band.
So that I’d get this right, I asked Andy to describe why this works. He’s the only therapist in the Cincinnati area (and one of just a few nationally) who combines Active Release Techniques (ART), NeuroMuscular Trigger Point Therapy and Active Isolated Stretching. Here’s his response.
“Adhesions and internal scar tissue restricts normal muscle movement and cause pain. This internal scar tissue leads to fascial micro trauma, increased inflammation, which results in additional scar tissue and eventually, pain. It’s a never ending cycle, that is effectively treated by breaking up that unhealthy, restricted scar tissue. Once that occurs, normal range of motion can return, helping to break the cycle of pain and re-injury.”
Andy also recommended that I increase my flexibility, using active isolated stretching (a 2 second hold), to ensure that I would reduce the chance for re -injury and also to increase my performance level, as well. This kind of stretching is different than those I learned on the gym floor before high school baseball practice. I’m already seeing an increase in my flexibility and range of motion. The day I first went to Andy, he had me try to touch the floor while standing, straight-kneed, and I could only make it to my shins. Now I can easily touch the floor and am working on getting even better.
The point is this: Andy helped me get back to training quickly and effectively. I’m now in the first third of a spring marathon training plan, and I’ve had no issues with pain at all. What more could I ask for? And because he taught me the techniques he uses, I can continue to work on any trigger points I do find at home. But if I need some specific, extremely therapeutic work, I am calling Andy.
If you live in the Cincinnati area and have been suffering through pain while running, do yourself a favor and give Andy Shetterly a call. In fact, even if you live elsewhere, I’m sure he can help you find someone to help.