IASTM for Runners
(And Other Endurance Athletes)
Distance running (and other endurance sports) initiates a cycle of breakdown and repair in the connective tissues (bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia) of the body. When physical stresses and training is properly balanced you will create a fine tuned and very healthy physique. However, a minor imbalance over time can cause declining performance and possibility injury. One of the missing links in endurance training is routine myofascial work. One highly effective form of myofascial self-care for runners is instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).
With the Myo-Bar Sport and/or Original Bar tools the recreational or semi-professional athlete can perform routine self-care and greatly improve their training experience while preventing any problems that may interfere with race day. After myofascial seIf-care, the best recommendations regarding injury prevention involves fixing your running gait. Please see Jack Cady PT's Book, "Efficient Running." By far the best information on the subject.
So, how does IASTM work? Well, quite simply it allows you some reach while the shape of the tool's edge gets leveraged access into small tendon/ligament areas or deep muscles. "Access" means that the narrow edges of the tools can penetrate between tissue fibers- more so than your thumb. "Leverage" means that you can perform deep tissue work with less effort on your part. That said, Stainless Steel tools are more expensive than "the runners stick," foam rollers, and plastic massage tools. There are two reasons to consider that justify their cost.
The first is the "diagnostic resonance" of polished stainless steel as it glides over the skin. While stroking the length of the hamstrings, for example the tool's edge rides up and down on the tissue topography and amplifies it. It gives you a better sense of restricted tissue, scar tissue, and/or muscular trigger points (knots). That alone is worth upgrading to professional quality self-care instruments. After all, getting right at the problem area will speed up your recovery and keep you from wasting your time working "round and round" it. The second reason is durability. Stainless steel has no wear factor when used on soft tissue. It will last your lifetime- way past the usable life of plastic massage aides.
The Real Cause of Illiotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
(And Other Running Ailments)
The instant the body undergoes an overwhelming force or fatigue failure it will take protective measures to prevent further injury. What happens immediately after the event will set the stage for the recovery period. Old school thought, was rest, ice, and immobilization. And, if a severe trauma is at hand- this is still what you must do. But, what about strains, sprains, and overexertion/overuse type injuries? What happens when you stop moving the injured segment?
Without movement, stasis of fluids occurs along with the vicious cycle of inflammation. This scenario requires at least a 4 day recovery, and sometimes up to a couple of weeks. Ice may reduce inflammation, but it also numbs the proprioceptors and other receptors necessary for the brain to begin functional recovery. Can we use another treatment protocol to fix the problem area and bypass the inflammation cycle?
According to tensegrity models of anatomy (Myers, 2014), most soft tissue injuries are NOT "tears" or "pulls." Rather they are failures in the glide of fascial encasements around muscle fascicles, ligament beds, and nerve channels. More than that, these restrictions in glide between layers of tissue are nearly always one or more segments away from the pain site. By analyzing the position of injury (and actions that provoke pain) along with the kinetic chain involved with that movement you can find and release areas of restriction immediately (or as soon as possible) after injury. If you can restore movement along the kinetic chain with IASTM myofasical self care, you will bring all the neurologic receptors back into harmony so they can, in return, appropriately plan and execute normal & pain free movement patterns.
Besides ice and immobilization, the real cause of IT band Syndrome is fatigue and contraction in the Glute Max. Once this muscle fatigues and tightens it will pull the IT Band tight during knee and hip flexion causing the "rub" against the lateral knee. The cure is simple: work the fascial restrictions in the kinetic chain from lateral knee to Glute Max. And, when you become fatigued at mile "whatever" make sure to let your Glute relax (literally "think" relax!) during the swing phase of gait. Just like IT Band Syndrome, other runner's ailments are almost always caused by a failure in the anatomical chain a joint or two away from the pain site. Achillies Tendonitis- look at the hamstrings origin. Runner's Knee- look at the Psoas hip flexor.
Once you know how to treat the movement chain and skip the ice, you will be able to immediately treat your problem areas before they become inflamed, allowing you to bypass long recovery times and chronic recurrence.
Do I need the Sport Tool or Original Myo-Bar?
Determine which tool or combination is right for you.
The Myo-Bar Sport is designed for treating over ligaments and tendons, in smaller strokes 3-6" long. In the thin bevel, (sharper like Graston tools). It has a concavity to conform to the leg, but also a convexity/prow to focus a stroke deeper into the tissue. On the top edge there is a wider edge for general soft tissue strokes with a tendon relief notch for the Achillies. This would be the most versatile all around tool for IASTM self-care. The Original Myo-Bar has a wide barrel edge and designed for deep fascial release of muscular compartments. This tool is best used before and after training- before to increase pliability & after to aide lymph and lactic acid drainage. The Original Bar would be used with long strokes over all the major muscle groups.
Before continuing, don't forget to bookmark this IASTM Runner's page to easily access information later... and would you think about sharing this page with your friends? Below you will find links to see the athlete self care options. Also feel free to check out the professional sports medicine sets.