Arm Care: If Not You, Who?

How to do proper arm care.

Your mom taught you how to brush your teeth at least twice a day to keep your pearly whites fresh and ready for chomping.

But there’s another bit of maintenance that your mom probably missed: how to keep your arms, hands and elbows fresh and ready for future workouts and training.

How do you keep your arm muscles from tightening up? How do you flush out the lactic acid and metabolic waste so you come back fresh after hard training?

Maintaining full range of motion (ROM) means enjoying your natural levels of strength and endurance with faster recovery times and fewer injuries.

The Problem:

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or tendinitis just doesn’t appear one day out of nowhere. When muscles are used a lot, they have a tendency to get short, get dense and get sore. Muscle cells no longer easily slide/glide over each other to create movement. When muscles stay chronically short, it creates a pull on where the muscles turn into tendons and attach to bone, either at the elbow or through the wrist into the hand. This constant pulling can eventually blossom from latent under-the-radar tension into full-blown pain at elbow or wrist (tendinitis/tendonitis).

The Solution:

Learn and use a particular sports massage therapy technique to release tight muscles and regain pain-free full ROM.

You may have tried to do what people have always done for the last few million years: You rub the sore spot with your free hand to try and free up some ROM. You’re on the right track, but that may be tough to pull off especially when both arms are cranked.

Two things will save your arms:

  1.     The right therapy technique.
  2.     A hand-held tool to apply the technique without the fatigue created by using your free hand and fingers alone.

Let’s start with the tool. It has to:

  1.     Amplify your force with a concentrated mass, i.e., weigh several pounds.
  2.     Has both a smooth surface and a bit of an edge.

Some examples:

  •       A dumbbell or kettlebell.
  •       A 22-plus ounce size cold beer can or food can. Take your pick whether you’re hungry or thirsty after the treatment.

Use your imagination and find a tool that works best for you.

Like with any tool, it’s all in how you use it. Technique trumps all, no matter the size or shape of the tool.

The Technique — Active Release/ Trigger Point Therapy:

This is the most effective therapy technique to regain ROM.

While seated, rest the arm to be massaged on your thigh or on the corner of a table so your hand is free to rotate at the wrist. Use your free hand to guide the tool to apply precise pressure to do the technique.

Active Release — Trigger Point Therapy is not a massage, it’s a dynamic combination of:

  •       Probe and find the sore trigger point.
  •       Hold pressure on that spot.
  •       Move the hand at the wrist to stretch the forearm muscle that has the soreness.
  •       Change vectors to approach the spots from different angles.
  •       Change movements to find what hurts the most. The pain will move and shift, so continually seek and create the “hurts good” pain.

NOTE: To do trigger points in your biceps or triceps, hold the edge of your tool on an upper-arm spot while you flex your forearm up and down at your elbow joint as you continue to find new spots in the upper arms to work on.

Final tips:

  •       Pain is Your Guide — Use “good” pain as your guide when applying pressure. You control and maintain the delicious “ooh yes-hurts-good” kind of pressure, the feeling that something good is happening to your muscles while you press and find the right movement. The too-much-pressure, “ow” kind of pain is a bruising kind of hurt, and there’s nothing good about that.
  •       Go Slowly at First — Discover your own muscle-use-trigger point patterns. Do it as often as your Mom wanted you to brush your teeth, two to three minutes two to three times a day. Go longer and deeper later when your arm muscles get used to it, which should be within days or a couple of weeks.
  •       Your Expectations — It has taken months or years to create your problem, so allow your muscles to slowly (within days or weeks) regain their full, pain-free ROM.

Arm care. If not you, who? Best of health.

Written by Terry M. Cross, HHP, Sports Therapist, Inventor/Founder of The Armaid Company, Inc. See videos at www.armaid.com. Cross can be reached at 207.374.9952 or by email at tcross@armaid.com.