Anatomy Trains, Collagen and the Delos Perspective

Anatomy Trains, Collagen and the Delos Perspective

September 20, 2018|By Eric Owens|No Comments »

 

The education provided by Tom Myers’ Anatomy Trains is globally regarded as containing one of the most comprehensive and groundbreaking collections of data for understanding how muscles and fascia work together in the body. I recently had the privilege to attend a weekend seminar organized by Anatomy Trains where practitioners from around the world gathered to learn about the latest research as it relates to muscles, fascia and movement.

Based on my experience with clients, education and even intuition, I already had a good idea of what was happening in the body. There are some new scientific findings that I learned in the seminar that finally explain some of my intuitive conclusions from working on clients and I’m excited to share this information.

 

The role of collagen in our muscles

Pain and stiffness in the body result from a build-up of collagen in the tissue. Before I went to the seminar, I knew that collagen was being deposited into a muscle, but the question that I had is why? I speculated that it may have been due to a repair mechanism in the body. In other words, when we use a muscle, whether by lifting weights, running or sitting at a desk, we are tearing down that muscle and then the repair process included the production of collagen. I was wondering if it was possible that collagen was being put in almost as patchwork. It turns out that’s not entirely correct.

What’s actually happening is that our body is always trying to be more efficient in anything that it does. There is an existing lattice structure of collagen around individual muscle fibers. These structures are organized in a 50 to 60 degree angle relative to each individual muscle fiber. That orientation is really important because it allows muscle tissue to contract and recoil very effectively and efficiently. So as soon as we start to do something over and over again, we are using very specific muscle fibers in a very specific sequence of contractions. Doing so over and over again tells the body that it needs to become very efficient and effective with this movement.

So what the body does is lay down collagen by following this specific sequence of events and those specific muscle fibers, to enhance the contraction. Essentially, the double lattice is getting thicker at that specific location to enhance movement.

Let’s say that the performance of a muscle can be represented by a bell curve. So when we start to do something repetitively, our body recognizes that it needs to make this movement more effective. As a result, collagen is deposited in the muscles in a pattern that is optimal for making that specific movement very efficient, sequential and refined. This creates what people refer to as muscle memory. Eventually, the performance of this movement begins to increase (a climb along the bell curve) because of a specific track of collagen fibers.

However, if we keep doing a movement and the body keeps depositing collagen in the cells required to optimize this movement, at some point, rather than the muscle’s performance (or progress on the bell curve) being enhanced, it will start to decline because there is too much collagen build-up. So we still develop some muscle memory and some neurological responses to make that movement effective, but over time the collagen will start to affect the movement and make the muscle stiffer. Eventually too much collagen build-up will cause strain on the muscle fibers, leading to pain.

If we’re lifting weights every day – doing squats and bench presses, for example – over time and through repetition, collagen build-up will work against us. That’s why trainers often say it’s good to completely change up our workouts. We should be running, walking, sprinting, climbing hills, doing yoga, lifting weights, jumping rope, etc. because then we’re never doing any repetitive motions for an extended period of time. We are constantly tricking our body to avoid collagen build-up in specific patterns. It doesn’t mean that we still won’t get some build-up because the body is always responding and trying to optimize movement. However, people who are hurting typically have injuries and pain because of a specific repetitive movement or activity that they do. If you’re a carpenter and constantly hammering or a tennis player constantly using your arm, it’s no surprise that you will experience pain more quickly because you have the same deposition of collagen every single day. If you change up the activity it will delay that process. The body will still produce and deposit collagen, but it will be in a much more global, scattered way rather than into very specific muscle fibers and patterns.

 

The best way to remove a build-up of collagen

An over build-up of collagen in the muscles and fascia feels hard to the touch and causes stiffness and pain.The most common things people are doing to remove that stiffness is stretching, foam rolling or massage, but these processes don’t actually break apart any fibers. Collagen molecules are too attached to themselves to be affected by conventional stretching. And gliding across the muscle with massage or a rolling motion has very little impact on dense, collagen bundles.

Based on our experience at Delos and what I learned in the Anatomy Trains seminar is that the most effective way to break up the collagen is by squeezing it. What we do at Delos is identify collagen build-up and break it up with direct pressure. Using pressure, we’re realigning the collagen back to the original lattice structure so that it can help the muscle fibers contract properly and efficiently. Tom Myers has plenty of scientific data to demonstrate this process.

 

The role of water

At the seminar, I kept hearing that there’s no better way to hydrate a muscle than just to squeeze it. The word ‘hydration’ was used in a global sense to include blood, oxygen, lymph, nutrients and water. What they found was that collagen fibers have a very high affinity for each other, meaning that they want to stick together. And what the water does is provide a barrier for collagen molecules. The water layer between collagen fibers allows them to slide past each other to allow optimal movement.

When people are dehydrated, they lose this water layer. What remains are collagen molecules that desperately want to stick together in the absence of water. As soon as they stick together, they become bigger. And now they have a higher affinity to grab more collagen molecules. The result is collagen build-up, which we typically call knots in the muscles.

What’s interesting, according to the Anatomy Trains team, is that once there is a build-up of collagen in the muscle, drinking plenty of water doesn’t make much of a difference to undo it. The body is not absorbing most of it and none of it is going into the muscle tissue. What is very clear to me now, especially when I heard clients say that they drink plenty of water and don’t feel hydrated, is that tightness and dehydration go hand in hand.

One of the conclusions in the seminar is that the absolute best way to rehydrate our body isn’t necessarily to drink more water, but rather to squeeze or apply pressure into the muscle. The release mechanism causes the tissue to act like a sponge and absorb the water that we are already drinking.

 

So what are we doing at Delos when we apply pressure is break up dense collagen. There’s nothing more effective at getting rid of waste and rehydrating the muscle then squeezing it with pressure. That squeeze is definitely lost with a glide or a roll. Collagen restrictions can be superficial to the muscle, but they can also be very deep within them. What makes us unique is our multi-angular or multi-directional systematic pressure. Once we break up the tissue, hydration becomes possible, pain and stiffness symptoms go away and movement can once again be optimized.

Delos Spotlight: Jennifer

Delos Spotlight: Jennifer

July 17, 2018|By admin|No Comments »

 

Delos Therapy has some amazing clients with extraordinary stories and we want to take the time to share their success with our therapy. Meet Jennifer* who was suffering from frozen shoulder. Read her interview to find out her amazing transformation since starting Delos.

How did you hear about Delos?

JH: I heard about Delos from a current patient also suffering from frozen shoulder. Our symptoms were identical and they were seeing results so I decided to take the recommendation to try Delos.

What issues brought you to Delos?

JH: I was suffering from a frozen shoulder. The pain in my shoulder and arm had become so bad that I was unable to sleep. I lost the range of motion in my left shoulder such that I could no longer life it vertically or horizontally. It began taking a toll on my daily life – I couldn’t reach my back, wash my hair or drive a car. Others that I know who suffered from frozen should had surgery as a corrective measure and I wanted to do everything to avoid the knife.

What types of treatments did you try before coming to Delos?

JH: Before coming to Delos, I tried yoga and massage. Since I had lost so much ROM in that shoulder, I was physically unable to do many of the poses, like downward dog. The massage therapist tried his best to help me but was honest regarding the condition I was in and didn’t think he could help me.

What improvements have you made since starting Delos Therapy?

JH: Not to spoil the surprise but I have complete range of motion back! All of it! Not only that but I’m back in the gym beginning to rebuild the strength I lost along the way too. I can reach behind my back to stretch after workouts, I can drive, wash my hair, everything. While its been a long road, the payoff has well been worth it. My progress started slow and initially I was frustrated because it was hard to see my progress. My pain and inflammation were decreasing but my ROM was still limited. That’s when Kate suggested we begin tracking my progress with photos and measuring using marks on the treatment room walls. As my therapy began to gain traction, I was eager to come in and test my ROM limits. Once I could see the changes we were making, it was exciting to come in and see how much further we could get with each session.

What would you say to someone who hasn’t tried Delos Therapy?

JH: While I was a skeptic at first, as my progress was slow to start, its quite clear now that this therapy works. It’s so effective and can give you your quality of life back! I had to be diligent about repairing my body and follow the recommended consistency and frequency, but it paid off. The therapy works and I was able to completely avoid surgery. Whatever your condition is, Delos can help. Follow their plan and trust in their process, it’s worth it.

 

Jennifer’s* progression through therapy:

*name has been changed

The benefits of Delos Therapy during school summer break

The benefits of Delos Therapy during school summer break

May 30, 2018|By admin|No Comments »

 

In addition to working on professional athletes, we’ve had the pleasure of working on high school athletes who have gone on to set personal records in their schools and then went on to college to continue their endeavors in sports. We’ve seen baseball players, soccer players, tennis players and golfers, but here is an article highlighting one example of such an accomplishment for one of our track and field athletes.

Each summer, whether they are in high school or college, these athletes come back to Delos to maximize their muscle health in preparation for next season. A few summer months of Delos Therapy can result in major gains in achieving and maintaining muscle health. Healthy muscle tissue is soft, spongy and pliable when in a relaxed state and is only hard when the muscle is flexed or contracted. The idea of pliability is finally being recognized by the world’s best athletes, such as Tom Brady, who wrote an entire book about it and credits his longevity and athletic performance to it.

Through training and competition, muscle tissue undergoes tremendous amounts of wear and tear along with repair, and gradually accumulates a buildup collagen and elastin within the tissue, making the muscle hard and fibrotic to the touch even when it is in a relaxed state. These fibrotic bundles create stiffness in muscles that is unresponsive to conventional techniques such as stretching, foam rolling, deep tissue massage or rest. The tightness also greatly diminishes the performance of the muscle because these particular bundles are unable to contract, so the muscle is considerably compromised. There is no better time than the off-season to have these fibrotic bundles broken up with Delos Therapy, alleviating the wear and tear and reestablishing muscle pliability. This will provide a considerable advantage over the competition because the muscles will be at their optimum performance ready to fire for another season.

My Time with Tiger Woods and My Thoughts on Pain and Performance in Golf

My Time with Tiger Woods and My Thoughts on Pain and Performance in Golf

April 17, 2018|By Eric Owens|No Comments »

 

Back in 1996, I did a TV commercial for Buick with Tiger Woods where the two of us played table tennis. You can see it here. I had a great opportunity to talk to him about what it takes to be an elite performer in his sport. Recently, I began thinking how much I would have been able to help him with his back issues. From a performance perspective, I’ve come to the conclusion that a powerful drive and accurate putt require a high volume of muscle activation and fine motor control. Unfortunately, as muscle tissue gradually becomes tight and rigid, it loses the ability for explosive movements and fine-tuning, both of which are absolutely necessary for golf. Through wear and tear from repetitive motions during countless hours on the golf course, muscles gradually become stiff and hard, and they lose the ability to contract. As this process happens there are fewer numbers of muscle fibers being engaged. Therefore, when a specific part of a muscle is needed for explosive movements, that locked up portion of the muscle is unavailable. The result is far less power and explosiveness with golf drives, which means a golfer will not be able to hit the ball very hard without straining.

In the short game, when very small muscle groups are needed for fine motor control, those particular tight muscle fibers will be unavailable for use, so control will be lacking. There is no amount of practice that can overcome this, as more practice without addressing the tightness will just perpetuate the cycle. In addition, continued tightening of muscle fibers eventually leads to pain and dysfunction, resulting in conditions such as golfer’s elbow, low back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain and others. The most devastating scenario for a golfer is having to finish the season early or take a break during prime summer days because the pain is unbearable or the muscles too stiff to achieve optimal results. Imagine being Tiger and not being able to play when you most want to.

At Delos, by applying precise pressure to the tight fibers and breaking up this rigid tissue that is cemented with collagen, we enable golfers to gain access to previously unavailable muscle fibers. Consequently, they can drive with more explosiveness and utilize more of their own muscle tissue for each shot. When small muscle groups are needed for the most finely tuned put, every muscle fiber will be available for ultimate control. There would be dramatic improvements in every aspect of a golfer’s game simply because he is using and recruiting more of his own muscle. And nothing beats optimal performance on the golf course.

Delos Spotlight: Bernie Seidl

Delos Spotlight: Bernie Seidl

March 21, 2018|By admin|No Comments »

 

Delos Therapy has some amazing clients with extraordinary stories and we want to take the time to share their success with our therapy. Meet Bernie, a salesman suffering from lower back pain. Read his interview to find out his amazing transformation since starting Delos.

How did you hear about Delos?

BS: I trained at the gym next to Delos for years. For the longest time I actually thought it was a spa! Chase, a gym employee, referred me to Delos after I was explaining to him how much pain I was having in my lower back.

What issues brought you to Delos?

BS: I’ve been dealing with back pain my entire life. Because of a structural issue in my spine, one side of my body is actually shorter than the other. I found this out at a young age and had just accepted that pain would be a part of my life forever. Occasionally, I’d have flare ups that would put me down for a few days at a time, but again, I had accepted that this was just the way it was. Until a few months ago, it became the worst it’s ever been. I couldn’t even bend down to tie my shoes anymore. I noticed I was gritting my teeth to sit or stand. I didn’t want to become the “old guy” who is restricted by pain; I needed a solution.

What types of treatments did you try before coming to Delos?

BS: Over the years, I’ve tried it all. I would get massages to try and get blood flow to the painful areas. Since I knew it was a structural issue, I would see a chiro to try and realign my spine. Nothing ever gave me long term relief. When it started to get really bad a few months ago, I decided to have an MRI done. It showed there was a mass pushing on the nerves in my lower back that was affecting my left leg and causing intense pain. The orthopedic surgeon recommended steroid shots and possibly surgery. Wanting to avoid that at all costs, I took Chase up on his recommendation to try Delos.

What improvements have you made since starting Delos Therapy?

BS: To be honest, I can’t believe the results I’ve had with Delos. I’ll be the first to admit that I was probably the biggest skeptic Eric has seen yet. Even after feeling some relief in my evaluation I wasn’t completely convinced. Eric wanted to see me multiple times a week which possibly meant with different staff. Being a salesman, I was sure he was trying to just sell me on his process and pass me off to someone else. Regardless of my skepticism, I had a big trip planned three weeks from my initial consult and needed relief. If I was going to do this, my goal was to be pain free by the time of my trip, so I scheduled my entire treatment plan in those three weeks. Not only was I pain free when I left, I remained pain free for 5 weeks! After a lifetime of pain, I was completely free to move and be comfortable for 5 whole weeks before I started noticing the old symptoms returning. I was amazed at the results. I was also amazed at Eric’s predictions that due to the nature of muscle tissue, my pain would eventually come back. Due to the structural misalignment of my spine, this was going to need more attention than just a few weeks of treatment.

Again, being a numbers guy, I needed to have all my ducks in a row before committing to a long term treatment option. I wanted all my doctors on the same page and following the same protocol. My surgeon was impressed by the results I was getting from Delos, so much so that he advised me to forego steroid injections and follow the Delos regime for the foreseeable future. Kate, one of my therapists, has been amazing in keeping records and providing me progress updates throughout my time at Delos. I now have complete faith in this process and have committed to a long term treatment plan to see just how far this pain free rabbit hole goes.

What would you say to someone who hasn’t tried Delos Therapy?

BS: How’s that working for you?? Pretty blunt question, but in reality, why haven’t you? Do the evaluation, talk to Eric and complete the treatment plan. Delos is really onto something here, compounding this therapy over a short amount of time yields results. It’s hard to argue now being on the pain free side of things. Don’t waste your time trying a few sessions, you’ll end up paying more in the long run, both monetarily and physically. I was a flight instructor for many years and I always told my students – it may seem like a lot up front, but the more time you put in between training, the more time in each session we spend catching up. It will take twice as long unless you really commit. Same principle applies here – invest in your health, commit to the plan, get real results.

Tell us something unique about you.

BS: I spent 30 years in the military, which is where I was first diagnosed with this issue. I was a flight instructor for many years and now spend my time as an avid traveler.

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