Dr. Bonci explained that muscles are cold prior to exercise. Our current sports medicine system has us doing a slow, active warm-up, like jogging. But this kind of warm-up is flawed in that we’re only using parts of some muscles and we’re still taking a cold muscle and asking it to actively perform for this type of warm-up. By rolling a muscle with the Stick (see Figure 5) 15–20 times with reasonably good pressure, we encourage a rich blood supply to all parts of the muscle, bringing food and oxygen and warming a muscle without risk of injuring the muscle. After exercise, a muscle is tight, like a fist, making it difficult for blood to flow into the muscle. With the Stick, you can force muscular relaxation and encourage much needed blood to enter the muscle, which leads to a quicker recovery. Finally, the Stick can be used for tight, strained, and pulled muscles. There are techniques for every muscle group in the body.
The goal of using the Stick is to help the individual take care of his own muscles. I think everyone will agree that massage and myofascial release are good, but we don’t get this muscular care frequently enough to optimize or
maximize a muscle’s ability to recover and function at its highest level. In sports and in the workplace, we add stresses to specific muscles without ever giving them the opportunity to fully recover.
The Stick is intended to be used prior to exercise, after exercise and at the end of the day. The user must have the muscle in a relaxed position, then “roll the muscle” in both directions 15–20 times, applying pressure to tolerance. When someone else is massaging you or doing trigger point therapy to you, they may apply too much pressure, which may be painful and force you to tighten the involved muscle. This reduces the benefits of their work. By applying this treatment to yourself, you can apply the exact amount of pressure you can tolerate and still get the best results.
Be patient. I estimate that it took me three years of working with my calves before I got them back to optimal levels. I ran my fourteenth marathon exactly 14 years after my thirteenth marathon. I was able to run the Vermont City Marathon in 2001, and achieve what I had thought was an impossible goal. My conclusion is that if I could come back from the depths I lived in for so many years, the sky is the limit for anyone who truly wishes to get better. It was the start of a new world for me.
After we get a Structural Fingerprint® exam, there are some basic goals we strive for. First, we want to address symptoms we find. We can use the treatments described above to eliminate or reduce inflammation, spasms, and other symptoms. Our second goal is to restore as much mobility as possible to all joints in the body. Mobility increases joint tolerance and adds life to the joint. We also want to improve muscular flexibility. Using the Stick with specific stretches and/or doing additional work like yoga or tai chi, will help us reach this goal. Finally, we want to improve our structural alignment and balance. This is where the re-education of the muscular and nervous system comes in.
Before Dr. Bonci left after our first meeting, he walked to his car and brought back a tool he had recently received. It was a tool I had never seen before. Without any instructions from him, I sat back and put my feet up on the desk and began rolling it up and down my calves. Both calves were incredibly sore, which was a result of trigger point pressure. Breaking up trigger points creates pain, but I could manage the level of pain because I was rolling my own muscles. I rolled and rolled, sensing that something good was happening. This was actually the first time I even thought, Maybe we’re onto something here. The next morning, my calves felt different. I contacted Dr. Pat Belcher, president of RPI of Atlanta, the manufacturer of the Stick, and spoke with him at length. It wasn’t long before I had a shipment in my possession. I was convinced that every athlete on the planet would want one if they knew about it.
As I continued using the Stick, my calves gradually improved. I increased my runs to five miles, then seven miles, and then I ran a 15K race (9.3 miles) that I hadn’t run in years. With continued personal success, and after witnessing the success of patients and friends who were now using the Stick, my good friend Derrick Rowland, a former NBA ballplayer, and I took my muscle management program to the Chicago Bulls. Derrick played several years under Phil Jackson, so we had easy entry into their strength and conditioning department. This led to a meeting with the New York Giants strength department, where Coach Al Miller immediately understood the value of eliminating trigger points. This meeting led to my four year involvement with the Giants. I spent every Monday for four years in the strength department working on players and teaching them the details of warming a muscle up, helping muscles recover, and treating injuries.