Fuel Your Recovery- Active Release Therapy and Graston Technique – Lessons From an Elite Runner


By Tina Muir
Last week I talked about the importance of massage, compression, and recovery boots, and today I am going to talk about something a little more specific that you may or may not have heard of/used (other than when I bring it up), but something that is SO important for runners, especially if you have anything that is bothering you.

I have mentioned before that I think active release played a critical part in my hamstring rehab. When you have something that is bugging you it is definitely worth paying for (and I do!). I am not receiving any compensation to write about Dr. Mike, I just believe in it that much.

Elite runner Tina Muir describes the importance of active release and graston technique as therapy for runners, especially when training for a marathon to keep injuries at bay, and help your muscles handle the stresses of training.

I love that with active release, if you have a muscle that is causing you problems, this is one treatment you can go to, and immediately feel a difference when you get off the table. It often makes the pain go away instantly!

I was lucky to have a certified active release specialist in college, Ron would work on my various aches and pains, and I am even more thankful now to not only have a certified specialist, but to have one of THE BEST there is. Dr Mike Sullivan holds the highest certification for active release, and even teaches the technique at seminars around the country! He works with a lot of NFL players, and many other collegiate and professional athletes, and the University of Kentucky teams; I am thankful he is here in Lexington.

I thought it would be helpful to show you a little more about what ART involves. You can read about the science of what it is HERE. To put it into my own words, ART with Dr Mike involves telling him the general muscle area that is tight, and he will feel for minuscule differences within the muscle, until he finds the source of the tightness. He will then press down hard into that area with his thumb, and move the muscle through its range of motion.

I am not gonna lie, it hurts, sometimes pretty bad.

There were times with my hamstring where it hurt so bad I wanted to scream, but after a 10 minute treatment on that area, it felt significantly different. When you have some major damage, as I did with my hamstring, it would tighten up again after the next run, but I am positive that without his therapy, I would not have made it to the start line for the Chicago marathon, and I would still be dealing with it. Most other elite runners I talk to who have had hamstring issues have had them for many years, and they never really go away. Mine has, and I am so thankful for Dr. Mike for that…..he is also the one who loaned me his Recovery Boots!

Dr Mike is a triathlete (half and full ironman races), so he really understands runners, which is important. There is almost nothing worse than going to someone for help who does not care for runners at all!

To me it is worth paying for a treatment where you see instantaneous results, this is the closest thing we have to a “quick fix”, but like I said, if you have something really wrong, it is unlikely to go away if you do not keep going to get it worked on if you continue to run. However, if you are having any kind of muscle pain, and you have a certified active release therapist near you, I would recommend it 100%.IMG_8092-e1425213367516-1024x1024

Dr Mike also performs graston on muscles that need it, including recently my quad/IT band was a little tight. It leaves some bruising, but this works wonders too. I talked about it a few years ago when I realized its importance when training for the Philadelphia marathon.

This is another form of therapy I would recommend for muscle issues, but make sure you have a specialist do this; they whip out some pretty scary looking tools, and it is not something you should EVER trust someone who has not been certified to do….you could do some serious damage!

Hopefully you enjoyed seeing a little peak into my therapy, and what helped my hamstring recover fully (as well as keeping me healthy at the moment). If you have aches and pains that are being stubborn, it is time you seek out your closest ART provider.
Have you ever used active release or graston? Was that video helpful/interesting?


About the Author:

0126-e1442429538790My name is Tina Muir, and I am an elite, Saucony sponsored runner chasing my dreams of representing my country in a major World Championship. My PRs are 16:08 (5k), 33:24 (10k), 1:13 (Half Marathon), and 2:41 (Marathon). I am thankful to be sponsored and supported by some great companies and amazing people. You can read more about here.

My blog is devoted to showing you that elites are just like everyone else (no, really!). I am honest with you about the ups and especially the downs of running, and share insights into what life is like as an elite runner.

I believe in healthy eating most of the time, but that does not mean enjoying life in the moment is not important! I train hard, and I will show you glimpses into what that means, but most of all, this blog is about finding YOUR own strong. I want to encourage every person out there to be the best version of themselves they can be. To be proud of YOUR strengths as they are what make you the beautiful, unique person you are.

About the Doctor:


Dr. Mike Sullivan
Board-Certified Chiropractor

I chose to help others with Chiropractic and ART treatments after I experienced the benefit myself. I had been told by friends and family to get myself examined by a local Chiropractor for some issues I was having. I at the time had never been to a Chiropractor, nor did I know much about them. Like many people, I was reluctant to go but was glad that I made the choice to go. I felt much better after a few visits and was able to call them up and get an appointment whenever I had increased stiffness and pain.  I made the choice to enroll at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa. Upon graduation, I moved to Kentucky where I have been fortunate enough to give back to others and I continue to look for new treatments that are available to improve peoples quality of life.

Ironman Louisville has relied on me since 2009 to be the lead ART/Chiropractor to treat the athletes that converge into Kentucky to hopefully finish or race for a slot to Kona. My team and I enjoy working with folks from all over the world and look forward to seeing them giving it there all on race day.

I have enjoyed sponsoring and working with the local races in Lexington. I have worked with and treated Olympic and professional athlete’s but the bulk of who I enjoy working with are the moms and dads, kids, teachers and people from the Lexington community.

I have completed many road races, Half and Full Ironman races over the years.I hold the highest certification with Active Release Technique and also teach the technique at different seminars around the country.