Archive for October 20, 2011

Recovery by John Stiner, massage magician

Yesterday it had been four days since the 40 miler. I woke up and was still feeling pretty creaky. While pleased with how most of my had recovered (my calves, despite foregoing the calf sleeves or compression socks felt great, my hamstrings weren’t too sore, my bruises from the falls were healing), some parts of me still felt like crap. Particularly, my left hip flexor/groin area was super tight and even a little painful. In general, both quads still felt really bad; worse than they do after heavy squat day even. With only two and a half weeks before Stone Cat, it was definitely time to be a bit more proactive about recovering.

A few days before the race I had asked Kim at Bull City Running Company for some recommendations about massage therapists in the area, seeing as how I was still pretty new and Yelp had recommended some franchise that didn’t seem to specifically cater to athletes, let alone runners. I was hoping to find someone with some running experience, someone who understood what I’ve been doing to  my body for the past few months and could actually help, not give me some spa treatment. I wanted to get put through the ringer, hurt a bit, in order to get things moving along. And I’m really glad I asked because I was referred to John Stiner and that is quite possibly the best thing that’s happened to my running since I’ve been down here in NC.

John Stiner Massage is located in Durham, pretty convenient to where I work. I called him Tuesday and, because I was driving home and got his voicemail I didn’t leave a message. I called him back yesterday morning and as luck would have it, he was able to fit me in for an appointment at 4pm. This is pretty awesome as the dude is busy, working with some of the top athletes in the area including the Duke XC team and an aspiring Olympic Trails marathoner. I didn’t really have expectations aside from getting a good working over (which wouldn’t take much honestly, considering how I felt already). As soon as I got there, I immediately felt comfortable. John is very engaging. And in the small-world department: he’s intimately familiar with the Finger Lakes races as he went to school and has done a ton of running in the area, and even ran the 25k last year!

The best way to describe the actual massage I got is: wow. Actually, WOW!!! He spent the better part of two hours really working me over, extremely thoroughly. It wasn’t a “few minutes rubbing this, a few minutes rubbing here, let’s put on some sounds of running water and light some candles and do a very superficial going over and get you out the door” deal. It felt more like PT, only BETTER than any PT I’ve ever gotten. I am admittedly tight and I’ve not been good or diligent about working on  since I stopped wrestling in high school. He got my legs to move in ways I haven’t since then, and in ways I didn’t think were quite possible. It hurt at times, considerably, but in a way that immediately led to feeling better. He clearly knows what he’s doing, on a physiological level, and also from being a runner himself. The best and most telling part though is when I finally got up off the table. I immediately felt significantly better than when I had walked in the door. My range of motion was considerably improved. Moving in ways that were almost impossible in the morning felt so much more comfortable right away. I was, and still am, amazed. And extremely grateful.

Waking up this morning, there are still sore spots. That’s not surprising. But overall my legs feel much better than they did 24 hours ago. I jogged around this morning with some of my students and didn’t feel any debilitating tightness in my hip flexor (though it is not yet 100%), my quads are finally starting to feel something closer to normal, and I am feeling very confident that the next two and a half weeks will be enough time to get myself ready to make a couple months of very hard work pay off on November 5th. To that end, I already booked him again for the day before I fly up to Boston. I want every advantage I can get, and this is a huge one!

I haven’t typically written many recommendations on here. Partly because I don’t really think myself good enough or influential enough to be the sort of person to make recommendations or that people would look to for my opinion. I’ve never really been given samples of stuff by companies to review. I’m a relatively good runner who busts his ass and works hard and has improved considerably since I started a few years ago and that’s really all there is to me. But it seems lately I am getting more regular readers here and in general I’m being asked stuff about what I wear, what I eat, what I think about x,y,z more often from other runners (and non-runners who are interested in getting into the sport). I don’t recommend things unless I truly and  fully believe in them (and obviously use them myself — Anyone who’s read this blog long enough knows of my love for Brooks, and my affiliation in their ID program. I’d still wear Brooks even if I wasn’t in the program.) I didn’t get a discount to do a write-up or anything like that at all. I’m doing this because any expectations I could possibly have had about massage and recovery were completely blown away yesterday and I feel compelled to talk about it. If any runners in the Triangle area go anywhere other than John for a massage, I’m confident in saying they are wasting their money. Yesterday I added another valuable component to the training puzzle.

Til next time, RUN HAPPY everyone!

October 20, 2011 at 10:54 am Leave a comment


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