Sunday, June 19, 2011

Art Meets the Art of A.R.T.

"Have you checked out Active Release Therapy (ART)?" my runner friend Michelle asked me. "It was suggested to me after a hamstring tear, when it just wasn't healing. It hurts like the devil, but I swear by it." So I checked it out here, and amazingly enough, one of the local practitioners of it was a doctor whom another runner friend, Susan, was recommending that very day. So I made an appointment for last Monday.

I really liked Dr. Green. He is an athlete, and seemed very knowledgeable about my injury and others like it. He told me that it might take a while, but we could get this fixed. Then he started right in on my left heel. So what is A.R.T.? In layman's terms, it is like a very deep, very intensive, very concentrated, very painful muscle movement and massage technique. The goal is to attack the scar tissue that is binding things up and break it down. And attack it he did! I felt like he was driving a railroad spike into my heel with a sledge hammer. "This is going to hurt some," he said after a few minutes of amazing pain, as he dug his thumbs into my heel deep enough to reach, oh, about mid-calf level. I shrieked like a tween-aged girl at a Justin Bieber concert. OK, I didn't really shriek, but I wanted to! At one point, I did let a mild obscenity fly from my lips.

Afterwards, he showed me the stretch he wants me to do two sets of five times a day, telling me that my Plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles on both feet and legs are very tight. He also wants me to roll my foot, toes to heel, on a frozen ice water bottle or on the foot log that I had just bought. Then he had an assistant do ultrasound on my heel and electric shock stimulation on my left calf, which promotes breakdown of scar tissue and healing.

I came back on Wednesday - my treatment plan calls for three days of tortu - er, treatment - three times a week for several weeks, then twice a week for several more. I said to Dr. Green how I had told friends that I had been to see Dr. Marquis de Sade. He has a sense of humor, because he did laugh. The painful treatment was more of the same, as was Friday. Each time, my heel hurt like hell all the rest of the day and the part of the next day. But I have faith that this will work, in time. He didn't want me to do some of the stuff for now that the other doctor had me doing, and no hard-core walking. An exercise bike and elliptical - if it doesn't hurt - are good for now, so I've done those three times this week.

As a bonus, I found out that my health insurance provider allows a 30 minute deep tissue massage every third treatment - with no extra co-pay - for this type of injury, so I got that on Friday, which was great!

So that is how I was introduced to the art of A.R.T. I have high hopes that after nearly two months of having this injury essentially cripple me, it will be the start of turning things around and getting walking again. I am not even going to run a single step until after my 3 Day Komen walk!

No comments: