The Road to Recovery (Part 1: What I’ve Been Doing)

by Kenny Eller on March 15, 2011

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It’s been 44 days since it happened. Forty-four days since I’ve been able to play basketball, due to my injury.

What have I been up to in that time? Therapy and Recovery.

After going to Jewett Orthopedic to have my injury checked out, Dr. Felix, the orthopedic specialist, said he would like me to begin manual therapy sessions. He described those sessions as a painful massage of my leg, using tools, that would aid in my recovery and help to make sure that I healed correctly.

That referral led me to the amazing Barbara Ferrero and Michael Ames of Massage Timeout.

Before I get into what they’ve been doing, let me make it clear that this is not like going to the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons for a massage. While I’m sure they would be great at a relaxation massage too, Barbara and Mike are specialists who deal with various professional athletes.

So for the last month, I’ve been going weekly to Sport Specific Training in Orlando and seeing Barbara or Mike and letting them work their magic.

Actually, it’s not magic at all, but rather two separate techniques used to as Mike says,

“Break up adhesions or restrictions throughout the muscles/tendons/ligaments/fascia of the body.”

Sounds painful right? Well it is, but the benefits have been amazing!

The Two Techniques

S.A.S.T.M.

The first technique being used on me was invented by David Graston called S.A.S.T.M. (Sound Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization).

With S.A.S.T.M. a series of tools are scrapped and pushed across my skin with varying degrees of pressure. I’ve got to tell you there are times when I hold my breath, bit down and wait for it to be over. It flat out hurts! When my session is complete, the treated areas are usually red, which then turns to different shades of bruising over the following days. The results however have been GREAT!

Here is a more scientific description from the S.A.S.T.M. website.

“Instruments effectively break down fascial restrictions and scar tissue. The ergonomic design of these instruments provides the clinician with the ability to locate restrictions through sound waves. This allows the clinician to treat the affected area with the appropriate amount of pressure, due to square surface concept.

The introduction of controlled microtrauma to affected soft tissue structure causes the stimulation of a local inflammatory response. Microtrauma initiates reabsorption of inappropriate fibrosis or excessive scar tissue and facilitates a cascade of healing activities resulting in remodeling of affected soft tissue structures. Adhesions within the soft tissue which may have developed as a result of surgery, immobilization, repeated strain or other mechanisms, are broken down allowing full functional restoration to occur.” – www.sastm.com

A.R.T.

The second technique used on me is called A.R.T. (Active Release Technique) which was developed by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP.

What Barbara and Mike, along with Justin Cobb of Sport Specific Training have done is not only treat my injury but look into why I got injured.

My limited flexibility and extremely tight hips and feet, which they identified, have been something they’ve been working on through stretching and A.R.T.

A.R.T is described as:

In Active Release Technique, the provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue. Using hand pressure, the practitioner works to remove or break up the fibrous adhesions, with the stretching motions generally in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow, although the opposite direction may occasionally be used.

In the first three levels of ART treatment, as with other soft-tissue treatment forms, movement of the patient’s tissue is done by the practitioner. In level four, however, ART requires the patient to actively move the affected tissue in prescribed ways while the practitioner applies pressure.

This too is quite painful. Mike takes his finger and pushes down into my abdomen working to get to my hip flexor muscles. Think about that for a second and you’ll understand why it hurts. The first time I had it done, it felt like I had been punched over and over again in the stomach for two days.

Physical Therapy

On top of all of that, this past Thursday I got cleared to begin Physical Therapy at SST (Sport Specific Training) and began working with Justin Cobb, MPT, ATC, LAT, CSCS.

The first day of PT consisted of some light movement, a variation of lunges, as well as, numerous stretching techniques. The intensity of the PT will increase as the sessions progress, but I must say the lunges killed my legs! 😉 It’s been over six weeks since I’ve done any physical activity with me legs and I boy did they feel it.

The physical therapy in conjunction with the two aforementioned techniques above are important because as Mike describes,

“An important aspect of your therapy is the exercise/stretching routine in conjunction with the techniques I am using with you. When you break up adhesions you must put the muscle under strain and stretch in order to coerce the broken up adhesions into proper alignment. The stretches you are doing with Physical Therapy really bring everything together. I break up the adhesions surrounding your injury and you then put the muscles under strain and stretch helping to realign any fibrotic tissue that has not been reabsorbed into the body, thus making the damaged tissue stronger and more functional.”

I’m Healing!! (The Dramatic Difference)

Had I not been on this journey to play Michael Jordan, I probably would have done what most do and just let the injury heal incorrectly on its own.

Since the very first treatment with Barbara, I have seen dramatic improvement in my range of motion and the overall usability of my injured calf muscle.

As of right now, I feel no pain during normal movements like walking or going up on my toes. Due to doctors orders, I have been advised to wait a couple of more weeks and allow the manual therapy and physical therapy to continue to assist in the healing and strengthening process before I attempt to jog, run or jump.

Overall, I’ve been highly impressed and super thankful. Going through this hasn’t been easy, but we all have an opportunity through each situation to make ourselves more informed and better prepared and that is exactly what I’m doing.

Later today, I will head back for the first of five sessions (2 MT/3PT) this week.

Timetable To Get Back On The Court!

While I have been at the courts lately shooting (see new record below), I haven’t been doing any playing or true testing of the injured leg. Hopefully in a few more weeks I’ll be better than ever and back taking on the best I can find, as I prepare for my match-up with Michael Jordan.

I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel and that is EXCITING!

Special Thanks!!

Special thanks to Dr. Felix, Barbara Ferrero, Michael Ames, and Justin Cobb for helping me along on my road to recovery!

**If I’m able to, I will get video of some of the treatment I’m receiving for Thursday’s post!

PS: I haven’t forgotten about you Mr. Jordan! I hope you’re getting ready! 😉

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*NEW Free Throw Record (34 in a row)

For the last three Saturday’s I’ve been going to the court and doing some light shooting. This past Saturday I set a new personal best for free throws in a row with 34 consecutive makes!

I’m fairly sure the most I had ever made in a row in my life was 32 in a row back when I was in my late teens or early 20s.

That means I am now one third of the way to my goal of 100 Free Throws in a row.

The journey continues….

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