As a running coach, I’m often confronted with tending to my athletes’ aches and pains. And I’m certain my coach would say the same — at the very least, about me. I try to help my athletes overcome injury through a variety of tools. Since injuries are oftentimes the result of inadequate muscle strength, or even imbalance, I usually begin with introducing stretching and strengthening exercises.
After strengthening routines have been established, or if an injury is out of my scope of knowledge and experience, my next step is to refer my athletes to a healthcare professional. Any good coach has a small army of health care providers to bounce ideas off of or refer athletes to for care. Healthcare professionals range from chiropractors to orthopedists to massage therapists. The type of treatment you receive all depends upon what you feel comfortable with and what is most beneficial to the type of injury you have. The type of treatments you may receive also depends largely on the type of provider you see. For minor to moderate injuries (those that do not require complete rest or surgery), there are many common types of treatment. Below are six of the most common types of soft tissue injury treatment.
6 Common Types of Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
Active Release Technique (ART)
In my personal experience, I have found Active Release Technique, or ART, to be the single most effective treatment for injuries. When I’m battered and bruised and can’t resolve my injury issue on my own, I turn to my chiropractor who is well-versed in ART. If you are suffering from stubborn aches and pains, I highly suggest checking into an ART provider. There have been so many times that my tendon (or the latest, my bone) has been out of alignment. With a little active release, I was on my way — pain-free. Think of ART as an injury-specific deep tissue massage. Words to live by: “hurts so good.”
Graston Technique is soft tissue manipulation through the use of instruments. Some have an exceptional experience with Graston and others see no benefit. One premise of Graston is that by slightly injuring the already injured area and eliciting an immune response, it will promote quicker healing.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a fantastic way to relieve stress, loosen up tight muscles, and yes, rehab soft-tissue injuries. This type of massage is different from regular massage in that the therapist is trained to manipulate deep layers of muscle as well as fascia throughout the body. Warning: some deep tissue massages feel less like a massage and more like torture. But you’ll leave the massage table feeling like Jell-o. And that’s a good thing!
Physical therapy is no doubt the best route to go when you keep sustaining the same injuries. Biomechanically speaking, something is off if you keep getting the same injuries. Physical therapy is usually written up by a doctor (sports medicine or otherwise). You’ll learn exercises, stretches, and different techniques in physical therapy — all specific to your sport and your body.
Dry needling is myofascial trigger point therapy. It targets areas of the muscle, known as trigger points, to release tension in the muscle. Sometimes dry needling can create a “twitch response” in sensitive muscles. The twitch response can feel like a cramp and may be uncomfortable to some people. The goal of dry needling is to deactivate trigger points, reduce pain, and restore length and function of muscles.
Most of us haven’t heard of cupping until recently (hello, giant red circles on Olympic athletes’ bodies). But cupping has been around for thousands of years. The premise behind cupping is similar to Graston — by eliciting an inflammatory response, the immune system can react better and more effectively. Cupping is thought to reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body.
As you can see, there are lots of different therapies and techniques when it comes to healing from injury. It’s important to talk with your coach and healthcare provider to find the best solution for you. Each body, each injury, and each cause of injury is different. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. Confer with your coach to make the best decision about your injury therapy and recovery.
Don’t forget to link up with Debbie, Susie, Lora Marie, and myself for the Running Coaches’ Corner — found here on each and every Wednesday!
TALK TO ME!
Have you tried any of the above mentioned therapies?
Which one is your favorite?
Also linking up with Nicole, Annmarie, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday.