As runners, maybe we just can’t help but be uncomfortable. After all, racing is an exercise is being uncomfortable.
So when my sports chiropractor came out with a new myofascial release tool … I was in.
I went by his office, Kentucky Sports Chiropractic, for a demonstration and explanation of this new torture device, which looks like a therapy band with four golf ball halves attached.
Launched about six months ago, Dr. Kyle Bowling created the CTM Band to improve on tools already on the market. It stands for “compression, tension, movement” — the three things required for actual myofascial release.
Backtracking a bit, self myofascial release is the technical term for when you’re using a foam roller, stick roller, lacrosse ball or compression band. Your fascia connects your muscles and tissues and can get “bunched up” if you will. These release techniques are designed to help relieve the pressure points and smooth things back out.
But, Kyle says, it’s a bit like Goldilocks.
“When I ask people what treatment they’ve been doing at home, they frequently say they’ve been using these tools but they just can’t quite get in the right spot,” he said.
And, research has shown that you need compression, tension and movement simultaneously to affect a response in the tissue. That combination is nearly impossible to achieve on your own with existing tools.
Kyle, a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and former collegiate runner, was inspired to bring several tools together.
“Floss bands are great, but there’s still that feeling of wishing you could get a little bit deeper,” he said. “I started first with stealing my kids’ little bouncy balls and gluing them to attach them to a band.”
In essence, the CTM Band combines flossing and lacrosse ball techniques into one device.
And then he assembles it in his basement.
“There’s that 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. window after the kids have gone to bed where I go downstairs and assemble them,” he said. In February, he and his wife welcomed their third child. Basically, the man does not sleep.
“There will come a point where I can’t keep up with assembling them at home,” Kyle said.
That time may come sooner rather than later. The CTM Band has already shipped to 37 states and 12 countries, with the likes of Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir using it. Several other elite runners use it, as well as three DI running programs. Oh, and a few NFL teams and some professional motocross riders too.
“Our current model is best for extremities,” Kyle said. “Plantar fasciitis, foot pain, runners knee, calves, quads, hamstrings, shin splints …”
But in addition to all the common running problem areas, the CTM Band also works well on the arms — shoulders and elbows in particular.
Each band comes with four removable attachments. How many you use depends on the body part, although I’d recommend two as a good starting point (one if using on your feet). Situate the attachments so they apply pressure where you feel like you need it, then wrap the band tightly around the attachments and around your leg or arm. Tight!
“We’re using it as a very short-term tourniquet so your body will send a rush of blood to the area when it’s removed,” Kyle said. A good reminder to not exceed the two-minute mark with the CTM Band on one area!
Of course, the band requires an educational component, so Kyle has created online videos to provide instruction.
And, while many of us think of myofascial release as something to do after we run, Kyle advocates using the CTM Band to warm up.
“Many of the injuries we get are from not warming up properly — doing too much too soon,” he said. “We can prepare these areas for the repetitive motion of running by using the CTM Band first.”
And before you say you don’t have time …
“Two minutes is the target time per body part,” Kyle said. “Stimulating blood flow, loosening up connective tissues, and taking them through a range of motion is a really good pre-run routine.”
When I told Kyle my idea of warming up was walking down the stairs and out the door, he suggested I simply put the CTM Band on before walking down the stairs. Genius!
I have been using the band mostly on my calves and it really helps loosen them up before I run. I’ve also used it on my hamstrings and quads, which I find a little trickier to position but also very effective. I ran a trail half marathon that beat my quads up and using the CTM Band before running the next day made a huge difference — I only used it on the worse of the two legs and regretted not using it on both because I could tell such a difference.
“Compression, tension, movement — if we have those three things simultaneously, we can truly cause a release in the tissue,” Kyle says.
Would you try it? What’s your favorite torture tool for post-run recovery?