Do-It-Yourself Active Release Therapy

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You can learn more from a triathlete than just how to swim and bike. Ask one how he stays injury-free, and there's a good chance you'll hear about Active Release Therapy (ART), a specialized massage technique that reduces soreness and tightness and speeds recovery. ART practitioners have been a staple at the Ironman World Championships for the past 20 years.

Now, thanks to a new do-it-yourself technique developed by sports chiropractor and 11-time Ironman Rob DeStefano, you can reap the benefits of ART without qualifying for Kona. DeStefano's method, called Facilitated Active Stretch Technique, or FAST, involves applying pressure around a restricted or damaged area while moving the muscle through its range of motion. Use it before, during, or aft er a run or race on these five common trouble spots.


Relieve upper-body tension

1. Raise one arm in front of you. With your other hand, push on the ridge-like muscle between your neck and your shoulder. Then place your free hand on your lower back.

2. Maintaining the pressure, tilt your head in the opposite direction. Then straighten your head, extend your arm, and move your fingers a few inches closer to your neck. Repeat the progression, moving pressure from your shoulder to your neck.


Relieve Achilles tendinitis

1. Sit with one leg straight, the other bent with toes pointed.

2. Grab your bent leg's calf with both hands, thumbs on your shin and fingers on your midcalf. Press in and pull up slightly with your fingers as you flex your toes.

3. Release your toes and move your hands to the inside of your calf. Repeat the motion, applying pressure and flexing your toes. Then move your hands to the outside of your calf and repeat.


Relieve tight hamstrings

1. Lie on your back with both legs bent. Grab one leg with both hands and press your fingers into the top third of your hamstring.

2. Maintaining that pressure and keeping your leg bent, extend your foot toward the ceiling. Hold for two seconds.

3. Bend your leg, move your fingers to the middle of your hamstring, and extend your foot toward the ceiling. Repeat again, putting pressure on the bottom third of the hamstring.


Relieve iliotibial-band syndrome, knee pain

1. Sit and bend one leg 45 degrees, keeping your toes on the floor. Starting above your knee, press into the outside of your thigh with both thumbs.

2. Maintaining that pressure, extend your leg. Then bend your leg, move your thumbs up, and extend your leg. Continue bending your leg, moving your thumbs up, and extending your leg until your thumbs are at the top of your IT band, near your hip.


Relieve shin and foot pain

1. Sit with one leg bent.

2. Grab your calf with both hands, thumbs on your shin, fingers on your lower calf. Apply pressure, then straighten your leg and flex your toes.

3. Bend your leg and move your fingers to your midcalf. Apply pressure, extend your leg. Repeat on your upper calf.

4. Repeat the three-part progression (press into the bottom, middle, and top of your calf) on the inside and the outside of the muscle.

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