Friday, January 12, 2007

Soft Tissue Work and Z-Health

I have been adamant in my position about the need, or lack thereof, of soft tissue work in conjunction with Z. So I haven't gotten any massage; no foam roller; no stretching. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. (OK, I lied--I got one "relaxing" massage last April--a present from a client; foam roller twice; and static stretching twice.)

However, in my last one-on-one with Dr. Cobb, he suggested I get some work done on my left elbow. It's been about 4-6 weeks since then. I have been acutely aware of the changes R-Phase has been making in my body and I decided to hold off as long as possible. Last night was just about right.

My right knee had started to flare up again and barely anything would "turn it off." Last night, I had a massage therapist (Nina Elseik for those interested) who went through R-Phase with us work on my forearm...for a whole hour.

Here are my impressions:
  • One of the key tenets of Z-Health is to stay out of pain--no nocioceptive input--it induces Startle Reflex. I never experienced "pain," just a lot of "tension release." That puppy was T-I-G-H-T! But the interesting thing was, my brain didn't know really how to interpret what it was experiencing. Nina kept asking me if I was experiencing any pain. I couldn't really decide what it was. I commented to her that what I was experiencing wasn't like any pain that I've been used to--nothing sharp or pinchy.
  • At certain points during the work, I felt a warm sensation in my right VMO and gracilis/adductor complex. Very weird...but not really based on some of what I learned in R-Phase (TOP SECRET--you gotta take R-Phase if you wanna know.)
  • Just working on that forearm--that release of that much stored tension, caused me to relax incredibly. I had a very hard time getting off the table and had to "gear up" because I still had some work to get through later that evening.

So the short term results from last night's forearm only massage are the following:

  1. Full extension of the left elbow for the first time in 18 years.
  2. Increased radial deviation (approaching normal?).
  3. Pain free bilaterally and unilaterally loaded bodyweight movement in the right knee.

Some ideas/conclusions:

  • Another tenet of Z is "all the body all the time." Same as Dan John's "the body is one piece" concept. So it would make perfect sense that even though the forearm was worked on exclusively, it would produce a systemic response.
  • Although I still had some knee pain, later in the evening (ok, 1030pm) I performed some super-slow R-Phase plus some rehab/GPP work--focusing on wrist/hand/finger extension and then some unilateral loading for the right leg. Got totally out of pain. Totally. Therefore, it's possible that the left elbow was indeed the last piece of the myofascial winding issues I've been dealing with. Dr. Cobb says I'll see the real results in about 10-14 days.
  • Some soft tissue work may be/is necessary in [some] instances where there is protective spasm of tissue surrounding a joint (after a break, major surgery, etc) to return/allow the joint full ROM. This of course should be done with some active joint mobility work. (Last night after I got off the table, I performed some elbow circles in my new ROM.)

Depending on what happens in the next 7-14 days, I may schedule a follow-up visit with Nina. I'm looking forward to my next squat workout and my platform time on Sunday. I wonder if I'll notice any difference yet.


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