Monthly Archives: December 2008

Kinesio Taping Notes

I just watched the instructional DVD, Clinical Kinesio Taping and finally got some of the finer points of Kinesio taping technique. Here they are:
1. Taping from origin to insertion is supportive and enhances muscle activity. So you tape this way when there isn’t necessarily injury, but you want to help achieve peak performance with maximum support.
2. Taping from insertion to origin is curative and helps in recovery, and reducing muscle tightness and spasms.
3. Putting the muscle in flexion, or stretching it, and then laying the tape down helps enhance the tape’s “lifting” effect on the fascia. When muscles under the fascia are tight, they swell and push against the fascia, reducing fluid and blood flow which is essential for recovery, removing activity by-products, and getting fresh oxygen and nutrients to the affected area.
Amazing stuff this tape!

Zipp Powertap Disc Wheel Test and Pumping Up

Today the Bay area was sunny, although it was a chilly 45 degrees this morning. After my Computrainer workout, I decided to finally take my fixed Zipp Powertap disc out for a test.
In case you didn’t know, pumping up a disc wheel is kind of a pain. You get this little L shaped adapter to put onto the tube valve, but it doesn’t grab on too well. If you have a friend nearby, it’s not too bad. But if you’re by yourself, it’s tough. At Ironman Florida, Ken Glah taught me his patented method of pumping up a disc wheel. Here it is:
(DISCLAIMER: I reshot these after I pumped up the tire; smart guys with good eyes will note that the lever to lock the pump head onto a valve is in the unlocked position. So follow the steps but lock the lever and you’re good to go!)
First you attach the L shaped adapter to the pump.

Note that the opening of the adapter points upward and the pump head and tube hang directly downward. This is so that the pump head and tube will not torque the valve on the tire’s tube, which makes it easier to hold it on. Otherwise, the pump head and tube will always drag on the adapter and want to pop off during pumping.
I use a Topeak JoeBlow pump which I consider the best damn pump out there. Its head has two holes for each type of valve (presta and schrader) on the same side; pumps with the holes on opposite sides really suck. I had one and it broke on me within a year.
Then I use my right hand to hold the pump head with adapter onto the tube valve, with the tube valve at its highest position and not near the ground:

Now the trick is to pump while holding the adapter onto the tire. I usually pump a little bit with my left hand to get the air started. However, there is no way I can get a decent force on it once the pressure builds. That’s when I shove it into my stomach area and press on it with my weight to get the rest of the air in, up to about 100 lbs.

You’d think that somebody would have figured out how to create a better way to pump up disc tires by now. Oh well.
Then I put on some warm clothes and go outside to test my Powertap. Supposedly they recalibrated it and I hope they did it right. When they sent it back to me, they sent it back to me in pieces: tire and tube off, cassette unmounted. Kind of lame. I just hope they fixed the Powertap problem of sending overly high wattage numbers.
Thankfully, after a chilling spin around the block, the PT was now reading correctly. No more 995 watt readings – sad but true, my day with Lance Armstrong quality power output were over.

Lacrosse Ball is the Ultimate Massage Tool

My physical therapist turned me on to using a lacrosse ball to work through the knots in my muscles. Previously I had a TP MassageBall and both their rollers. I still love my rollers, but I was feeling that the ball was a bit too soft. When I really put pressure on it, it would collapse in too much and not get into deep knots.
Then, per my physical therapist’s suggestion, I bought a lacrosse ball and it worked great! The firmness of the ball was perfect, but it also had some give so it wasn’t like driving a solid sphere into my muscles.
This morning I had some knots in my left back and also in my pilformis and right hamstring. This is consistent with my current issues with the associated kinetic chain. Using some techniques from both the Trigger Point site and from my physical therapist, I worked on my knots there and the pain and tightness diminished or just went away.
For example, for my hamstring, I will sit on a chair and put the lacrosse ball underneath my leg, applying pressure on it by sitting on it. Then I will extend my leg slowly to pull my muscles across the pressure of the lacrosse ball. I then move the ball down my hamstring to work the entire area.
For my back, I sit in the same chair and put the ball between the chair back and my back’s affected area. I lean back against the ball to apply pressure. Then I move my arm up and down to, again, move the muscle underneath the pressure of the ball. I then move the ball again over the entire area work on knots up and down my back, along my lats, my traps also.
My ultimate massage kit consists of a lacrosse ball, both TP Footballer and Quadballer, foam roller, and a 6″ PVC pipe section. Oh, I mustn’t forget my spoon.

Importance of Regularly Checking and Correcting Kinetic Chain Imbalances

Yesterday I went to see my physical therapist. The week before, I had somehow pulled and/or spasmed my left back, ranging from the top trapezoids/neck down the middle back and into the lat area. It was during weight lifting that this happened and it was very annoying and painful for a long while.
The result of this was to then cause a kinetic chain domino effect. Those muscles are linked from the left side down into my right glutes, and down my right hamstring and so on. In the short few days that my left back was affected, it also caused my right lower back and glutes to tighten up, as well as down into tightening up my hamstring. This all manifested itself as a shorter right leg.
When I got to my physical therapist, he checked my leg length and all this tightening was enough to pull my right leg up by almost 1/4″ shorter than my left!
In the old days, physical therapists might prescribe an orthotic with a small lift in the heel to take up the room left by the shortening of my leg. However, I now perceive this as a crutch and not a permanent solution. In fact, I have a propensity for a shorter right leg, as its muscles tighten up and pull it up. But I have also found that through physical therapies, corrective exercise, and proper technique will actually remove the issue. Thus, having an artificial lift in my right leg, which was to correct for a condition, was now annoying a now normal condition of two corrected even legs! Needless to say, I scraped off the wedge and now have two relatively even legs….except when special conditions occur like my spasming left back.
Now I know that I have to keep special watch on muscle tightening of any sort, and also be wary of its effect on the kinetic chain of muscles in which it lies. It’s why I go to physical therapy every week to have ART and Graston specialists work over my tight spots and make sure that my body is balanced and even, and that nothing is pulling too much. Otherwise, leaving a condition like that untreated would result in further injuries further up and down this kinetic chain.
After experiencing this, I am now a firm believer that this is a major cause of injury in many runners, where muscles start getting tight and they are not given time to loosen up, and the kinetic chain starts tightening which eventually leads to injury. It’s too bad that more people do not have the time or resources, or even the desire to go more to a good physical therapist; I think it’s one of the reasons why I can keep running and racing faster and for longer distances without getting injured.
For way too detailed information about kinetic chains, check out Anatomy Trains.