For years I have found it nearly impossible to actively stretch my hamstrings and hips… and because it’s such a pain in the ass, literally, I have lived with hip and low back pain. I love hiking and cycling but I have found that the posture for both tend to put undue stress on my back, hips and it creates extreme pain at my sciatic nerve in my glutes and my IT band. So it creates a psychological barrier that keeps me from being consistent in my training. I know what your saying… man the “F” up and train through it. Yea, I wish it was like that. If my back pain starts up it’s nearly impossible to concentrate and focus on what I am doing on my computer and since I write, blog, and create internet products it puts a little kink in my style.
I feel like I’ve done everything I could do. Shit, I was one of the top personal trainers for the longest time… so I should know what the f@#k I’m doing when it comes to exercise and stretching. I have done hip stretches with my feet against the wall, I’ve used a towel to hold my heel to stretch my hamstrings, tried a ton of yoga stretches, pilates… you name it but still remained in pain. Every time I thought I was loose and started feeling better, wouldn’t you know it, my hips and hamstrings tightened back up and I’d get a burning sensation in both quadriceps.
I kept telling myself that it is my own damn fault for quitting the personal training game and sitting on my ass for 12 – 14 hours a day. I sit so much my chair broke itself on purpose to give it’s self a break. I never realized how much I actually sit until I realized how much pain I was in. It sucks. When the tightness starts it’s almost impossible to get any sleep… I’m tossing and turning and I wind up going back to my office and… yes sitting back on my ass. Can anyone say vicious cycle… Batman.
So I’m doing one of my weekly calls with my friend Josh Carter and I start bitching about my back and hips and how I was thinking about buying an exercise ball to sit on. Josh had low back problems and told me not to worry that he new a guy. I felt like I was back in Jersey… because everyone there knows a guy that knows a guy, who knows a guy. Josh actually did know an awesome guy who happened to be a very smart Physical Therapist. I got his number and when I spoke to him and explained my dilemma, I knew I found the 9th wonder of the world. I’m not kidding.
Nic Bartolotta is the guy who invented DCT (Dynamic Contraction Technique)… if you haven’t heard of it, your not the only one, I didn’t either… and I thought I knew everything. It’s kinda funny because this incredible technique using eccentric contraction and resisted stretching has made me pain free. One of the reasons most of the fitness industry hasn’t heard of DCT is because Nic has been too busy with many of the top professional basketball teams like the Dallas Mavericks. While he was training all the athletic trainers for The Mavericks and other pro basketball teams he decided to invent and patent one of the coolest pieces of exercise equipment I have ever seen… The DCT Proflex. This piece of equipment has changed my life.
In order to understand why the ProFlex is so incredibly effective and how it works you need to first learn about Dynamic Contraction Technique, and in order to learn about DCT you need a basic introduction to muscle physiology and the mechanics of muscle tension in the body. The simplest way to help visualize the effects of muscle tension is with the T-Shirt analogy. When a muscle begins to form a “knot” the effect is similar to a T-shirt being twisted. As the shirt is twisted everything is pulled in towards the center.
In a muscle when a knot forms the same effect can be seen with the muscle length shortening and the bones being pulled out of alignment. Take a look at the following animation of a knot forming in the hamstring muscle. You can see very clearly that as tension forms in the hamstrings the pelvis is pulled down and in creating a hunch back posture in the spine.
It is one thing to know that muscle tension affects posture, and another thing entirely to know what muscle tension actually is, and it is amazing how elusive a concrete explanation of muscle tension can be. For years professors, physical therapists, personal trainers and athletic trainers could never give an appropriate or adequte explanation to what muscle tension is… well Nic really gave a me some schooling. Here’s his explanation and how the DCT Proflex came to be.
Muscle tension forms inside and around muscle fibers. Looking at the anatomy of a muscle fiber reveals that each fiber is made up of many little links in series. These links are called sarcomeres. In order for a muscle to contract all the sarcomeres in series shorten by a little bit bringing the two ends of the muscle closer together creating the muscle contraction. In the following animation we can see a macroscopic view of muscle contraction where the sarcomeres are represented as segments sliding together during the contraction and then sliding apart as the contraction is released. If we zoom in to the microscopic level we can see the individual proteins that make up the sarcomeres actually functioning to pull the links together. A Knot, or muscle tension, occurs when sarcomeres begin to bind together inside the muscle fiber. When this happens, the links stay contracted and ultimately once enough links get stuck the range of motion is affected and postural problems begin to appear. But what is important about understanding that tension is really just bound sarcomeres, is that there is a mechanism available to us that can be used to unbind them. It is called an eccentric muscle contraction.
In the following animation you will see exactly how during an eccentric contraction the sarcomeres that are adjacent to the bound tissue, or Knot, work to pull the tension out of the fiber immediately freeing that part of the fiber to work again. This is precisely how Dynamic Contraction Technique works to actively remove muscle tension and resolve both range of motion restrictions and postural problems.
Pretty amazing stuff. I seriously couldn’t buy my DCT Proflex fast enough. At the time Nic only had a couple of prototypes that he was using on the Pro teams and me. Now he has made the DCT Proflex available to a limited number of Fitness Pros, Athletes, Athletic Trainers and Therapists. He had a company in Southern California manufacture a short run of 100 DCT Proflexes to get it out to a bunch of people to start changing people lives. Now I’m not saying that there is “only” 100 for the rest of your life… because that wouldn’t be true but Nic wants serious people who take their health seriously to invest in his DCT Proflex. All of his products will be done in short runs… very similar to “small batch” scotch. If you are in the business of helping people get out of pain or you, yourself need to stop that burdensome pain in your hips, low back and IT Band… do yourself a favor and get the DCT Proflex.