Friday, February 9, 2018

Active Release Techniques®

As runners, cyclists, parents, or simply as humans, we all have aches and pains.  When I started running almost 5 years ago, I had no idea that my first year of running would be full of injuries.  I had shin splints, IT Band pain, and even some lower back pain.  I eventually got over several of the issues, but that doesn’t mean that I have remained injury free.  In the last year, I have had Achilles tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis.  I went to the Slowtwitch Roadshow last year where they had a bunch of booths and speakers on various topics.  The one that really grabbed my attention was the talk by Dr. Vince Hoffart of Hoffart Chiropractic, Inc.  Dr. Hoffart specializes in ART® or Active Release Techniques® therapy and after listening to him talk about the benefits, I decided to meet up with him so we could do a blog piece about ART together.  Here is a little history on ART® to start us off.

Dr. P. Michael Leahy was working with elite athletes over 30 years ago when he developed a new way to treat soft tissue disorders.  He wanted to find a way to get these athletes back to peak performance as quickly as possible. Originally trained as an engineer in the Air force before becoming a chiropractor in 1984, he watched athletes perform and studied their movement.  He combined what he knew about engineering with his chiropractic knowledge of the anatomy and biomechanics.  Active Release Techniques® was born (1).  

In 1988, Dr. Leahy’s colleagues convinced him to hold a seminar to teach his method of treatment and the response was overwhelming.  Shortly thereafter, he began formalizing a training method for ART®.  The method of Active Release Techniques® has been patented and over 10,000 ART® providers have been trained (1).  What exactly is ART® though and how could it help you?

Most injuries that occur during exercise are due to overuse.  Even in day-to-day activities can cause overuse injuries.  These can be acute conditions like muscle pulls or tears, accumulations of small tears like micro-traumas, or not getting enough oxygen to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.).  Active Release Techniques® is a patented massage technique that’s more than just going to a local massage therapist to work out knots.  It’s a soft tissue/movement based system that treats muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves by using a combination of massage/pressure and movements to work out knots and other scar tissue (1).

Scar tissue is built up when you have trauma or injuries to a specific area.  It prevents muscles to move as freely and can even make muscles become shorter and weaker.  This can lead to a reduction in range of motion, loss of strength, and pain.  You can even get numbness and tingling (1). 

When you go in for an ART® session, you get a combination of an examination and treatment.  The practitioner will use their hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of the muscles.   

Once an issue is found, the practitioner will use a combination of precisely directed tension with very specific movements to treat the issue.  There are over 500 specific moves that are a part of ART® and each person or injury may be treated by several different movements (1). 

Here is a video that is about 5 minutes long but it does a good job of explaining what ART is and shows the process of an ART® treatment.

I went to Dr. Hoffart originally because I had pulled a muscle in my calf and had been having some Achilles Tendonitis for almost 4 months.  I had tried massage and acupuncture with minimal success.  I was training for my first 50k Ultra Trail Run and needed to get back to 100% as soon as possible.  I met with Dr. Hoffart several times and each time he started with the evaluation of not only my lower leg, but all the way up to my hips.  He checked for mobility and differences in strength.  He would hold my leg and ask me to push out, then repeat and have me push in.  We did this with both legs along with other similar tests.  He was able to see that I had some loss of strength in my injured leg as well as a loss of mobility. 

Dr. Hoffart was able to do several different ART® techniques and my mobility immediately increased.  My pain lessened and within about 3 visits, my issue was basically gone.  I had heard that ART® was extremely painful, but I really didn’t think it was that bad.  One thing that is great about ART® is that the whole idea is that you get treated and back on your feet quickly.  I have known a few Chiropractors to plan out a 6-12 month recovery plan (not saying that all Chiropractors are like that by any means).

Talking with Dr. Hoffart, when you get a massage and they are working on a knot, it is really painful. They are putting pressure directly on the knot, trying to work it out and break up scar tissue.  ART® on the other hand is using the act of your muscles lengthening to help break up the knots as well as scar tissue.  It is this process of your muscles moving to break down the knots that makes the pain less significant than if you were putting pressure directly on the knots.  I know that these are not the technical terms that are used in the industry, but it is how I understand it and how I can best describe it to non-medical professionals (since I’m just an ordinary desk jockey).  I honestly get lost when hearing about adhesions and different muscle groups that make up a larger muscle. 

The bottom line is that Dr. Hoffart was able to do what I was not able to do by just researching and doing exercises found on YouTube.  He healed my Achilles/calf issues and I was able to complete my first ultra distance race almost pain free (I had muscle soreness, but that was it). I can’t thank Dr. Hoffart enough and could not have a stronger recommendation for him as a doctor.  If you live in the greater Sacramento area, please let him help you out.  If you are out of the area, find an ART® specialist in your area.  They can help you get those injures healed so you can perform at your best.

Hoffart Chiropractic
6000 Fairway Drive, Suite 6
Rocklin CA
(916) 632-8315


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Topo Athletic Mangnifly 2 Review

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I really like Topo Athletic shoes.  They offer shoes with a low heel drop and wide toe box.  This allows your toes to spread out instead of feeling claustrophobic like in most shoes.  The durability of the materials that they use is excellent as well.  The MT is one of the first pair of shoes that I reviewed on my blog.  It is still one of my favorite trail shoes because it is so light, comfortable, and really flexes with your foot.  The Hydroventure is an amazing trail shoe with a waterproof eVent material that keeps the water out but is still breathable.  Topo Athletic also has some amazing road shoes.  My favorite road shoe from Topo Athletic is the UltraFly because its lightweight, responsive, and has plenty of cushion.

I have tested 13 shoes from Topo Athletic and have been impressed with everyone.  Here are some of my past reviews.

Topo Athletic took the Magnifly and made some changes to get back to their roots.  Topo Athletic has been known for their zero drop shoes (with only a few exceptions in their lineup that had a low heel drop between 3-5mm).  The original Magnifly  had a 5mm heel drop and weighed in at 8.8 ounces.  The Mangifly 2 has a 0mm heel drop and weighs in slightly heavier at 10 ounces which actually surprises me since it looks like they have streamlined the second iteration of the shoe.  My guess is that the extra weight is in the midsole material.  While 10 ounces isn’t too heavy, I was curious why they added weight to the shoe since most of Topo ’s shoes tend to me on the more minimal side in both weight and cushion. 

First of all, if you are not familiar with Topo Athletic shoes, they fit snug in the heel and midfoot, while it they are looser in the toe box.  The wide toe box allows your toes to spread out, which has several benefits.  This will not only help you be more stable, but will also reduce foot injuries commonly caused by shoes that compress your toes.  They also typically have a low heel drop (most at zero drop) which promotes a more natural gait with less heel striking, generally speaking, and puts your body in a better alignment. 

The Mangifly 2 provides a responsive ride that is not only good for speed or track workouts, but is a great everyday trainer.  They would even be good on race day for shorter distances up to maybe a half-marathon (it might be suitable for longer races depending on your personal preferences though).  I have been using shoes with more cushion lately because of some Plantar Fasciitis issues, but the amount of cushion on the Mangifly 2 was just fine for me. 

Topo Athletic uses a Multi-Density Midsole material with two separate levels of cushioning.  There’s a softer level near your feet and a firmer more responsive level near the outsole (ground).  I felt like I was getting the responsiveness that I crave and the cushioning that made my feet happy.  That’s not to say that there’s a ton of cushion… it definitely isn’t a Hoka oversized sole, but it’s decent.

The Mangifly 2 comes in three men’s colors (Black/Black, Bright Green/Black, and Slate/Black) and three different women’s colors (Grey/Peach, Ice/Raspberry, and Navy/Pink).  The shoes really feel great from the moment you take them out of the box and give you enough cushion to really push, while still remaining relatively light.  I can’t get enough of shoes with the wider toe box.  Most of my foot pain (due to foot compression of narrow shoes) has disappeared since switching over to wider toe boxes.  I really like the Mangifly 2 for the simplicity and feel you get with them.  They are not overbuilt, but provide you with a great feeling throughout your gait cycle.  You really can’t beat the value either as they only cost $110 on the Topo Athletic website. 

Lightweight (10.0 ounces)
Wide toe box allows toes to spread out
Zero heel drop allows for better form and posture
Great price ($110 at the Topo Athletic website)
Extremely flexible for a natural feel
Great mix of cushion and responsiveness

1.2 ounces more than the first version

Topo Athletic’s Social Media Links:

As I have been saying with almost every review, Topo Athletic continually ups its game with each release of a new shoe.  The Mangifly 2 takes a great shoe and made it even better in most areas.  It feels light, even though they increased the weight of the shoe.  If you haven’t given Topo shoes a shot, you really should.  Everyone has different shoes that work for them, but Topo puts out some really great products.  You can get a pair at the Topo Athletic website, or check the Topo Athletic Store Locator for a store near you.  Give them a try today and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.