So let's back up a bit. A while ago I experienced a great stretching session with Stephen DiLustro, it made my whole body feel better and set the healing process in motion. But the more I read, and thought about it, I realized that the Stretch To Win sessions would be great for continued flexibility, but I needed to fix my injury first. An intense stretching session every few weeks wouldn't fix the problem, in fact it may hinder it.
I talked with Matthew and explained my problems. I have already seen a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, stretching with Steve and my family physician. I refused to believe that I had strained hip flexors and would have to just stop using them. I had stopped squatting and lunging for almost five weeks, and no changes.
After stretching with Steve I knew that Matthew's techniques would be what my body needed. He is an Active Myofascial Therapist. He uses similar stretching techniques that Steve does, and incorporates trigger point massage.
We chatted on the phone and I went in to see him on a Friday. It was typical a Friday, the gym at 5:00am, work till 11:30, training with Roy at noon, posing with Kristy Enos at 2:00, then off to meet Matthew for the first time.
We went into a therapy room, similar to but larger than a massage room. He wanted to see me lunge, stand, walk, squat. He asked if I have ever heard of a pelvic tilt. "Yes, and I have one." I explained. Then I told him of my dilemma, I know I have one and I make every effort to tuck my hips in and not create the "sway back", but in posing practice, you have to make the sway back, you work hard to stick the butt out!
I laid on my back on the table and he started in looking for the painful areas of my left hip flexor, it was easy to find. Tight as a guitar string, just slight pressure made it feel as though it might snap. He applied pressure and then instructed me to rotate my leg in slowly and out, we did that a few times. He had me perform "pelvic tilts" to retrain the neuro-muscular connection. With every move I made, he applied pressure.
At one point I almost jumped off the table, "You tased me!" I said. I was sweating. His finger was pressing in on a muscle running up my groin, and a sharp, intense pain zipped from his hand all the way down my leg, to my foot. He apologized (although he hadn't done anything wrong) and said it was a nerve reacting to the treatment.
He worked on my right, but it wasn't as tight. He worked on my glutes, that darn piriformis on my left side is a stubborn little cuss. Then on to my QL. There is a video here that shows trigger point massage on the QL.
Matthew had me perform various stretches, holding for 2 seconds, then relaxing 2 seconds, before the brain told the muscle to tighten even further. With the Stretch To Win I was holding 3 seconds, not much longer.
We were supposed to go for one hour, and ended up spending 90 minutes. Matthew ended by applying the Kinesio tape (above) to the areas we worked on the most. This would stay on 3 to 5 days. The tape is close to the thickness of human skin, and the body doesn't recognize that it is a foreign object. It lifts the skin allowing increased blood flow and circulation of lymphatic fluids. It's waterproof and you don't even notice it's there (unless you are looking at my picture, then it stands right out).
I enjoyed the session, Matthew was fun and very personable, as I made fun of myself and the "bodybuilding world" he joined in by asking questions about it that many other people have always wanted to ask but were afraid to. The type of sessions we had were ones where talking is best, it would take my mind off the pain and discomfort as he poked and prodded my sore muscles.
Afterward Matthew had me lunge, squat, stand, walk, I immediately felt better! I also had homework, I needed to do my stretches and pelvic tilts.
The next day at the gym, I talked to more people than I had in a year! Everyone came up, motioned for me to take out my earbuds, wanted to talk. They all wanted to know what it was, what was it supposed to do, what did I hurt, how long would I wear it, on and on and on. At times I think it was a good excuse just to chat with me.
I would go back on Tuesday to see Matthew again, and the days in between everything felt better, I was really experiencing prolonged relief for the first time in months. Training went well, I was lifting more than ever. I got up to 205# (10 reps) on my RDL's but we backed off to 200#.
Tuesday I went in, I had texted Matthew earlier and he said I should take the tape off, he would be applying more. Below is the second taping, as you can see, the tape now extends down my legs lower, and over my left hip, the pain and tightness shifted! He said that wasn't unusual at all.
When I arrived, he asked if I had been doing my stretches and pelvic tilts. "Yes, I have." I said, "But I have a question- I was explaining the pelvic tilts to my trainer and I couldn't explain WHY I was doing them."
Matthew looked at me with a straight face and said "Oh those? Those were purely for my own personal entertainment."
We looked at each other for a couple seconds and both burst out laughing. He had me for a minute! Then he explained it was neuro-muscular retraining.
We went through the same trigger point massage, I rotated my leg in, then out. At one point I started laughing and Matthew asked what was so funny. "I just tased myself!" Just like last time, but I could now control the nerve by how I moved my leg....a bit frightening.
Matthew worked on the hips again for an hour, and the adductor, IT band and QL. The glutes got their share, "windshield wipers" ha ha, I love it. On my stomach, he finds the nasty piriformus and presses in, then instructs me to bend at the knee, bringing my foot up in the air and move my leg back and forth, like a windshield wiper. The pain as I move my leg is one of those "hurts so good" pains....he says I can stop, but I think I keep wiping...
A week later I am back, we would work on the tight areas again and a little massage, you can see the third taping below. Only one leg!
Seems my adductor has been giving me a lot of pain, literally! Matthew didn't have to work on the right hip flexor much, and the left only a bit. He massaged my lower body quite a lot, but it wasn't one of those "oh so relaxing I want to drift off to sleep" massages, in fact, it was quite painful at times. I am always amazed at how tight my whole body gets. I forget that I really expect quite a bit from it.
I suppose this was more trigger point therapy and sports massage. I know there were spots that hurt like a son of a gun when he moved his forearm over them. The kind of pain that makes you breathe in really quickly and sort of hold your breath, and then you slowly release it wondering if the pain will also stop.
I must say, that Matthew does win the award for glutes though. I have written over and over how I want my glutes massaged, I always have sore glutes. The massage therapists I go to do massage my glutes, but everyone seems to have their "limits" and it has always stumped me because the glutes are the biggest muscle in the body, if you are a real athlete, these suckers are sore! I think Matthew pretty much just tossed the blanket aside and dug in, it was heaven! I am sure he would not do this if you had instructed otherwise.....
He worked on my back and shoulders, I told him that sometimes I am so tight, I cannot pull my shirt over my head, and David just laughs at me. Oh he helps, but not right away, he will let me flounder around until I beg for help.
Matthew also introduced me to Biofreeze pain reliever an amazing product, I am a junkie! He sprayed it on the target areas after each session, and all over my back on the last one. I bought several containers from him, the gel and the spray. Take it from me, use gel on your hip area. Spray can freeze body parts that you really don't want frozen. And make sure you wash your hands after applying it. This morning I applied it to my hamstrings, then slathered my sunblock on my face. A lot of soap and water later and then I was fine, just a slight delay in my morning routine.
So how is my body after all this?
I am sore. Wednesday is my two a day lifting day. I train arms at 5:00 am on my own, then quads at 5:30 pm with Roy. I was sore, all over my entire body when I met him. I told him that I really cannot have any work like this done before a hamstring or quad day, I am just too sore afterward.
But the hips, how are they? I think I found my cure! The pain I had been experiencing is gone and the tightness is dramatically reduced, I have to search for any discomfort. The range of motion is back, I can squat low without the tearing feeling in my hips.
Is it completely gone? As I write this on Thursday night, every muscle in my body hurts. It's a combination of a change in my training (and when my training changes I go through new found soreness each time), and the massage therapy I went though. I am not feeling the intense pain when I sit, or drive a car, or try to lower myself onto a toilet, or when I am sleeping, yes I was in pain as I would lay in bed. So while I am not completely healed, I am almost there. Like any injury or overuse issue, it will take some time, but I am close, very, very close.
Provided I continue with my stretching and pelvic tilts, and my rumble rolling, I am confident that I will be right as rain very soon. Matthew said I should probably come back in two to three weeks. And I am calling Steve too, I have plenty of room (and need) in my life for a lot of bodywork.
Give Matthew a call, or visit his website. He can fix your aching body.