The power of massage: I have spoken about it, I certainly believe in it and now I am living proof that in a span of days, massage brought me from not being able to walk without severe pain, to almost complete restoration . Looking back, an injury was bound to happen. I’ve been training for a 10 mile run for several months now. I’ve been working with a personal trainer in gaining strength and stability in my core (so important!), loosening up my tight hips and legs.
Then, on an extended run last Monday, I experienced my first knee injury. As a massage therapist, I called a colleague to help me figure out my problem and become the best WebMD that I could. Note: I did call an orthopedic doctor who said I could come in 7 days later (no appointments available until then). After googling various symptoms, I finally settled on my IT (iliotibial) band as the culprit. The IT band is a ligament attached at the hip and spans the length of the thigh, attaching to the shin. Its job is stability. In addition, I had compromised its performance by running with weakened hip muscles. I don’t know if I didn’t warm up properly, didn’t stretch enough, or didn’t simply hydrate enough in preparation for this longer than normal run. Whatever it was, the tightness in my muscles started a chain reaction and ultimately my knee gave out (became unstable).
When I limped in to get my massage on Saturday, my massage therapist Brian took a look and proceeded to perform myofascial release (sustained pressure in an area that helps loosen fascia, or connective tissues so the muscles can perform in a less constricted state) and did some deep stripping of the muscles in my thigh and calves. Intensive I’ll say, and I proved it by limping even harder when I left. I also thought, as some of my clients have done, ‘Oh no, what did I just do?’ But true to the general rule of massage, wait three days and then see how the massage has worked with the injury, I walked into my office on Monday without even realizing I was no longer favoring my other knee. I was walking, without pain and discomfort and without any hindrance.
A few days later, I visited Lauren at Compleat Rehab to get her professional opinion about what I was dealing with. I secretly wanted her to tell me I was fine and that I could run on my newly healed knee. She was cautious and careful in her diagnosis and did multiple tests on me to try to recreate my initial pain, but it didn’t reappear. Her assessment, as was my miracle working massage therapists, was an extremely tight IT band and a tight peroneus longus (the muscle that runs laterally down my calf and allows me to bend my foot). She dry needled both areas and although it was slightly painful, it has helped tremendously. (Dry needling uses needles like that of acupuncture and works with the trigger points in a muscle).
In facing this particular setback with my knee instability, I am reminded that so many people deal with these kinds of problems on a daily basis. I cannot imagine waking up every single day with pain in my knee. The pain clouded my days and made simple tasks difficult and frustrating. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with these types of injuries. Additionally, I have even more appreciation for the massage therapy community. I’ve always believed that the body does amazing work on its own, and with some help from massage therapy, it sometimes gets back to amazing a little quicker. But I am grateful to be able to tell my clients who suffer from knee pain or perhaps some sort of knee issue, that getting a professional opinion and using massage is one way that may help speed recovery. I’m living proof!
By the way, yesterday I ran two miles without incident and I give credit to my massage therapist (and my physical therapist). As always, if you have an injury, it’s best to get a professional opinion before proceeding with any treatment.