I have a 29-year-old female client of African origin. She completely ruptured her right Achilles tendon seven months ago while playing net ball, and after surgery, her doctor has finally convinced her to begin exercising again. She was previously very active – playing net ball, hockey, running, swimming and tennis. She is a primary school physical education teacher, so she still leads a fairly active lifestyle. She attends two 55-minute personal training sessions with me each week, during which we do Stepping and Cross-Training on the Elliptical machine. The second part of our sessions includes 20-30 minutes strength/conditioning training with free weights. She appears very healthy with a normal BP and a RHR of 68bpm. Her right Achilles tendon flexibility is slightly limited in comparison to her left.
One of her main concerns is the scar tissue the operation to correct her ruptured Achilles tendon has left. I have looked through the PTontheNET.com web site and came across an article written by Mike DeMora in which he recommends the use of a stretch stick (with little plastic balls that rotate) to restore the health of the tissue by breaking up the deposits that have accumulated. I cannot seem to find a stretch stick anywhere – or any other person who seems to know what it is. Can you help?
Mike DeMora is/was referring to a piece of equipment used for self-myofascial release (SMR), which is defined as "a ‘self-massage’ technique generally performed by moving the desired muscle(s) over a foam roller with the goals of increasing flexibility via the general decrease of muscular adhesions." An adhesion is when two or more body tissues (i.e., muscles, fascia, and even organs), are ABnormally joined in union to each other. Restriction and tightness caused by the myofascia could be compared to wearing clothing that is several sizes too small - it doesn't allow for much freedom of movement. This restriction during movement can eventually lead to overuse injury(s) do to poor arthrokinetics (joint motion) as well as a host of other problems.
For more information on SMR, please read Alan Russell's PTN article titled “Self-Myofascial Release Techniques.”
The Stick is also used for SMR, and as you've noted, is a semi-flexible stick with roller beads covering the shaft that, when applied to the desired muscle belly(s), can afford similar benefits as the foam rollers more commonly used/mentioned. You can purchase the Stick from Perform Better on PTontheNET.com's Shopping Mall. Also, please check out the following web site to learn more: www.thestick.net.