My latest attempt to educate myself stems from the knowledge that personal trainers need to be able to place themselves within that huge gap between conventional fitness and therapy. That is why in 2012 I undertook a course in Swedish Massage not with the view of becoming a masseur but begin to develop a more intimate (watch it!!) connection with the human body. I then began giving the odd massage to people even giving lower leg massages to existing clients. My next step was to become more acquainted with the works of Thomas Myers, a bodywork professional (basically an advanced masseur) who championed the ‘It’s all connected’ model for human anatomy to the extent that he was even licensed to prove his theories using cadavers (that’s dead bodies to you and me). I noticed from some of his DVDs that I could actually use my forearm as a foamroller.
But some of you may not even be familiar with foam rolling. Well, a lot of gyms now contain these strange contraptions.
It is basically another tool for self-administered massage. You see, stretching is beginning to become a little last year. Many are performing stretches but seeing no effect. Worse than that some stretches are counterproductive as you get things like adaptive (unwanted) lengthening or damage to your joint capsule. The problem may be knotting within your muscle fibres and fascia (connective tissue). Or the muscles may have too much blood supply making them overactive. Another theory I have heard is that the tissue quality is poor so you need to push fluid out of the cells and allow fresh fluid to come back, allowing more glide-and-slide and better quality tissue that can be lengthened properly.
Whatever the science this shit really works but there is a wrong way and a good way. There is an effective method and one not so effective. Luckily, there are tons of youtube videos you can watch on the subject and the safest resource is the one from Trigger Point seeing as though they make a lot of the products.
Diversifying into therapy-based training has led me to also learn some valuable lessons from physios, chiropractors and osteopaths. And in November 2013 I attended the London School of Health and Fitness for a workshop in the use of Fibroblaster and the application of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Massage (IASTM).
A lot of modern therapy techniques have traditional roots. In this case we look at Gua Sha. Again the science behind it will be varied but in between the skin and muscle you still have connective tissue some of it unwanted (scar tissue) some of it a little fucked up (adhesion) so this is yet another way (an underused method) to sort this out and improve your overall tissue quality and then your movement. Google images of this look quite brutal but in reality not much scraping is needed and so just a little redness will occur. This reappeared in a western contemporary form under the name Graston Technique. This however uses ridiculously expensive tools in response to which a certain someone (Jacob Fey) made a tool that does the job of all of them and named it fibroblaster. Learning how to use it is also cheaper because optimum health is the right of everyone and not the preserve of the elite. (rant over).
Our instructor for the day was Erwin Benedict Valencia, founder of KinteqGlobal, an education company dedicated to spreading fitness related knowledge to the world. Quite simply we scrape the surface of the skin which locates rough area above the muscle that may be restricting movement. A little bit of this and bingo you have instant mobility. We then follow up with some stretching and strengthening and as a result take a person closer to optimum health.
As bodywork professionals that have dealt with and inspected the movement of countless people we end up knowing which areas are more in need of treatment like the IT band on the legs and pronator on the arm (causes the arms to be turned in at rest) so we know exactly what to hit and how.
So for folks that are aiming to improve their movement and pain-free health it’s worth getting some treatment in this area. Someone like myself can easily see where you would need it most.
For professionals in therapy and fitness this is a great (and important) accompaniment to your existing practice.
The course is hosted by the London School of Health and Fitness so contact them if you are interested in learning this sub-discipline…my belief is that it is well worth it.
So I put this technique to the test to see if we can get an instant impact from using the fibroblaster. I used the pressure plate at a VIVOBAREFOOT store (thanks guys) and it showed how in my right foot a lot of pressure is being pushed to the outside. I began to scrape my front calf muscle (tibialis anterior) and stood on the pressure plate. The result spoke for itself…my distribution of pressure becomes more centred. This means that I can experience a more upright posture when both walking and running because as much as the VIVO instructors insist that the body adapts structural issues still need addressing separately.