Not too long ago I told you about different types of soft tissue injury treatments. I want to get a little deeper into the topic as I’m in the throes of receiving three of these treatments myself. Should you find yourself on the injury bus, hopefully my experiences will help you decide which is best for you and which ones you should seek out. Please refer to this post for the overview of soft tissue injury treatment and then read on for more specific information.
ART, Graston, and Cupping: Pain with a Purpose
Active Release Technique (ART)
In my original post, I mentioned that Active Release Technique is one of the most effective therapies that I’ve received. When I was dealing with a horrible bout of iliotibial band syndrome, ART saved me. I’m currently dealing with posterior tibialis and again, ART is saving me (I hope anyway).
When I first had ART performed on me, my leg was in severe pain. I had a lot of myofascial adhesions and my muscles were tight. I was a hot mess. But with several ART sessions, the adhesions were broken up and the muscle tightness dissolved.
What if feels like: ART feels like an intense, very deep, deep tissue massage. For most people, it hurts the first, second, and even third times your muscle is worked on. My most recent experience with ART left me gritting my teeth and spewing expletives between exasperated breaths.
Why you should try it: it works.
Depending on where on the body Graston is performed, it could hurt a ton and leave you extremely bruised, or you may not really feel much more than localized pressure. It also depends on your pain tolerance. The first time I had Graston done, the next day my entire right hamstring looked like it had been sucker-punched. At my next visit, I told my practitioner what had happened and he eased up just a bit. Contrary to popular belief, these guys don’t actually have a goal of torturing their patients!
What it feels like: Graston can hurt. If it’s being applied near a bone or tendon, for example, it’s going to hurt a lot more than if it’s just being applied on a large muscle. You also may not notice much more than pressure.
Why you should try it: as I mentioned before, there is some evidence that suggests inflicting minor injury to an area elicits an immune response, thereby healing the afflicted area quicker.
Helpful hint: don’t look at the tools before your practitioner uses them on you. You’re welcome.
At the time of my previous post on this topic, I hadn’t experienced cupping first hand. My, how times have changed. I really don’t know what to say about cupping without scaring you off from trying it. I kid, I kid! Kinda…
During my most recent session at the chiropractor, he told me he was going to aggressively treat the posterior tibialis because I’m on a time crunch with my upcoming marathon. I said, “sure, please do” because I was in so much pain. I was desperate. He started the session with ART, which hurt like a sonofabitch. It was truly like the first time I went there for my ITB pain. I was relieved when he was done with ART. Then he moved on to Graston. It wasn’t too bad except that he was doing the bottom of my foot, essentially on top of the plantar fascia. I didn’t realize before my appointment that this therapy would cause equal parts pain and tickle. It was the weirdest, most uncomfortable sensation I’ve ever experienced. After he was done
torturing me with Graston he said, “okay, I’m done with the instruments now.”
I didn’t have my eyes open yet and suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt a searing, stabbing pain in the heel of my right foot. I yelled, literally, “what the hell is that?!” It truly felt like a hot poker being slowly inserted in the bottom of my foot.
His response? “This is cupping.”
Nooooooooo. This is not what cupping is supposed to feel like! Michael Phelps voluntarily gets cupping treatment. WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE SUBJECT THEMSELVES TO CUPPING?!
What it feels like: hell. Cupping feels like hell.
I’m sure I’ll be a believer after a few treatments because I was certainly a naysayer about ART and Graston the first times I went. But right now the verdict is most definitely that cupping is the worst of all three.
Why you should try it: because misery loves company, and I need someone to commiserate with. No really — you should try it because it supposedly works similarly to Graston by triggering an immune response. I’ll let you know how it goes in the next week after my next treatment.
I certainly hope I didn’t scare you off with any of these techniques. I really believe they’re helpful, and I’m optimistic to see great strides in my own injury treatment. When “traditional” types of treatment have failed, why not try something out of your comfort zone? You may find yourself a believer after all!
TALK TO ME!
Have you been “cupped?” What’s your take on the pain level associated with it?
If you haven’t had a soft tissue therapy done and you’re in pain, give me one good reason why not?