| Article written on July 29th, 2015 at 9:35am | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
Just last weekend, I had the opportunity to take my third Active Release Techniques (ART) course which focused specifically on the spine. As an Athletic Trainer, the spine has always been an area that I would recognize as a weak point. AT’s are typically very good at evaluating and treating injuries in the extremities, because this is what we see most within the younger (high school and collegiate), athletic population. With that being said, the spine is often overlooked while treating injuries at the extremity because issues can be traced not to where the pain is, but to the actual source of the dysfunction. The ART spine course allowed me to re-visit such an important inner working of anatomy and biomechanics that are easy to overlook in human function. But, to also recognize the connectedness and relationship of one structure to another.
Here are 4 things I learned from the ART spine course:
- The superficial back line (SBL) can become problematic and often overlooked at the sacrotuberous and long dorsal sacral ligaments. Often we see poor posture and increased kyphosis at the thoracic spine, as well as increased tension and tightness in the hamstring musculature. Well, the sacrotuberous and long dorsal sacral ligaments are the soft-tissue structures that connect both of these problematic areas. Maybe they need more attention to improve their resiliency and function that can help improve issues commonly seen at the thoracic spine and hamstring.
- Do you suffer from relenting headaches? Headaches can often be combated and resolved with soft-tissue intervention to several surrounding head and neck muscles. There are so many vital muscles that surround the head and cervical spine. When these tissues become tight and fibrotic from poor posture, staring at a computer screen, and constant abuse, headaches are often the result. Several muscles, including: temporalis, occipitalis, rectus capitus posterior major/minor, superior oblique, trapezius, splenius capitus, and semispinalis capitus need to be evaluated from a soft-tissue standpoint to determine their quality. More often than not, we quickly prescribed medication to treat persistent headache without investigating the possible root cause in the surrounding musculature.
- Is spinal alignment off? Manipulation is a key component to restoring proper alignment and function within the musculoskeletal system. But, manipulation without addressing the restricted soft-tissue structures will ensure you need multiple visits to regain pain-free function. When we look at spinal alignment, we have deep soft-tissue structures that control vertebral position, such as: rotatores, multifidus, intertransversarii, quadratus lumborum, iliolumbar ligament, and more. Many of these structures need to be treated in conjunction with manipulation for full resolution. There is no one technique or solution to resolve pain or dysfunction, but a multi-faceted approach will provide the best results.
- Referred pain patterns into the thigh, lower leg, and genitals are possible from nerve entrapment within the hip flexor area. We have several nerves including: femoral n., genitofemoral n., and lateral femoral cutaneous n., that can become entrapped at the psoas, iliacus, and anterior aspect of the quadratus lumborum. When this happens we can feel burning, tingling, aching, or shooting pain further down it’s distribution pattern. Don’t always be fooled when something hurts that the specific location is the problem. With referred patterns, like when dealing with nerves, we must investigate the entire pathway of that nerve to determine if there are any issues further up.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you are suffering from any type of soft-tissue injury or interested in improving overall function of the body, contact me to learn more about ART. In conjunction with a structured exercise regime, ART can allow you to stay injury-free, recover from injury, or feel the best you have in years.
By; Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART