Friday, February 23, 2018

The BFF Massager Review

I thrash my body on a fairly regular basis.  In the past few years, I have dealt with Achilles tendonitis, a calf strain, ongoing plantar fasciitis, and most recently, an ankle injury.  I have been able to run through my plantar fasciitis for almost 9 months now, but the ankle issue stopped me dead in my tracks.  Kind of ironic since I write about running without injuries, right.  The reality is that I do research, but tend to push myself farther and faster than I should.  Just being real with you.

I try to foam roll and stretch on a regular basis.  I also try to cross train, although I tend to be really good for a month or two and then just seem to slow down on my cross training and stretching until I get an injury.  I think I just get complacent when by body feels good and stop doing what it took to get to that place.  I know exactly what I should be doing, but just don’t do those activities at times.

I have used multiple types of foam rollers, some of which vibrate, massage balls, sticks, and everything in between.  Some of the products are amazing while others are just horrible.  I have my favorites, but am always interested in testing out something new.  You never know when you will find that next miracle piece of gear that can help you stay more injury free.

I was on Facebook and ran across a Sponsored ad for The BFF, which looks like a car polisher/buffer.  The BFF is a small startup out of Chicago, where founder Joshua Grabuffsky came up with the idea after attending a part where he got “buffed” using a large polishing device.  He wanted to come up with a similar product that was more sleek, simple, and practical.  He started to teach himself every facet of how to transform his vision into a reality.


I got The BFF and started using it that night.  It is extremely easy to use, but, let’s first go over what comes in the box.  You get The BFF, and two pads, a white mitt for massaging over clothes or on bare skin, and a blue mitt to spread lotion for keeping your skin silky smooth.  There are also hair removal/exfoliating pads that can remove body hair (almost like a fine grit sand paper), but more on that later.

The BFF has a 12 foot cord, which is awesome for using anywhere around the house.  I have more than one massager/recovery device that has a 6 foot cord or shorter, so I either have to use an extension cord or sit right next to the outlet.  Not with The BFF though.  The BFF operates at 3300 buffs per minute and the pad is 6” in diameter.  The pad that the mitts go on is a triple density foam disc that rotates and vibrates. 


The skin exfoliating/body hair removal disks work well although it does take several passes of the buffer to get the hair off, and in my testing it did not get all of the hair but most of it.  I do have to say that is was painless and felt calming as I was removing the forest of hair on my legs (all in the name of product testing). 

The BFF recently came out with the Jeff Galloway version.  Jeff Galloway is an Olympic runner and author.  He has written books all about running, including about the “run walk run” method. Here is a video that Jeff put out about The BFF.


I have been using The BFF for over a month now and have really enjoyed it.  The instructions say to let the weight of the device put the pressure on your body, there is no need to push.  I have had one incident where I was really trying to get deep in my shin muscles and pushed a little too hard.  I ended up with a friction burn.  After using this almost every day, that was the only incident that I had.  There was also a warning that you need to watch out for loose clothing, which I never had an issue with. 


When I hurt my ankle, probably due to overuse, I was running about 65 miles a week, which were the highest weeks I had ever done, although I had been building up to those distances for quite a while.  I was just in the middle of a long run when I started to develop a pain along the tendon in the front of my ankle.  I feel that it is most likely an impingement or some sort of tendonitis.  Unlike almost every other running injury that I have had, there was no running through this pain.  I tried ice and compression, both of which made the injury worse.  I then tried heat and Active Release Techniques, which helped, but I think one of the main reasons why I am recovering so quickly is using the BFF on a regular basis to massage the muscles all around the shin, calf, and ankle.  I also for the first time ever, actually took time off of running, which was huge.

I recently started to use the tips in this video by Jeff Galloway to help with my Plantar Fasciitis.


I am a huge fan of The BFF and would not hesitate to recommend it.  In my opinion, the biggest issue of The BFF is the price.  At a hefty $300, you might have to hold off on those shoes you want to get, but it may help you stay healthier and increase mobility. 

The BFF website claims to increase blood flow, provide nerve and cell rejuvenation, and vascular dilation.  It also claim to help clear lactic acid, release tight or sore muscles and provide Myofascial trigger point release (like foam rolling).  There are some other claims as well.  While I can see that the claims may be valid, but there is no scientific data backing up their claims from what I can see.  I am not saying that the claims are incorrect, but if you are looking for a doctor’s testimonial backing the claim from a medical perspective, it wasn’t on the website. 

Pros:
Helps to loosen muscles before and after workouts/running
Has several mitts for massage, moisturizing, or hair removal
Feels great and not painful like foam rolling
More benefit in less time

Cons:
A little pricey at $300.00

The BFF’s Social Media Links

If you are looking to keep your muscles loose and help your overall mobility, I think The BFF is a decent product.  You should stretch as well as use other methods of increasing mobility and getting stronger, but The BFF could be a great tool to help you perform and recover more efficiently.  While the price can be a little high, it’s a solidly built product that should last for years to come. 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Active Release Techniques®

As runners, cyclists, parents, or simply as humans, we all have aches and pains.  When I started running almost 5 years ago, I had no idea that my first year of running would be full of injuries.  I had shin splints, IT Band pain, and even some lower back pain.  I eventually got over several of the issues, but that doesn’t mean that I have remained injury free.  In the last year, I have had Achilles tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis.  I went to the Slowtwitch Roadshow last year where they had a bunch of booths and speakers on various topics.  The one that really grabbed my attention was the talk by Dr. Vince Hoffart of Hoffart Chiropractic, Inc.  Dr. Hoffart specializes in ART® or Active Release Techniques® therapy and after listening to him talk about the benefits, I decided to meet up with him so we could do a blog piece about ART together.  Here is a little history on ART® to start us off.


Dr. P. Michael Leahy was working with elite athletes over 30 years ago when he developed a new way to treat soft tissue disorders.  He wanted to find a way to get these athletes back to peak performance as quickly as possible. Originally trained as an engineer in the Air force before becoming a chiropractor in 1984, he watched athletes perform and studied their movement.  He combined what he knew about engineering with his chiropractic knowledge of the anatomy and biomechanics.  Active Release Techniques® was born (1).  


In 1988, Dr. Leahy’s colleagues convinced him to hold a seminar to teach his method of treatment and the response was overwhelming.  Shortly thereafter, he began formalizing a training method for ART®.  The method of Active Release Techniques® has been patented and over 10,000 ART® providers have been trained (1).  What exactly is ART® though and how could it help you?

Most injuries that occur during exercise are due to overuse.  Even in day-to-day activities can cause overuse injuries.  These can be acute conditions like muscle pulls or tears, accumulations of small tears like micro-traumas, or not getting enough oxygen to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.).  Active Release Techniques® is a patented massage technique that’s more than just going to a local massage therapist to work out knots.  It’s a soft tissue/movement based system that treats muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves by using a combination of massage/pressure and movements to work out knots and other scar tissue (1).

Scar tissue is built up when you have trauma or injuries to a specific area.  It prevents muscles to move as freely and can even make muscles become shorter and weaker.  This can lead to a reduction in range of motion, loss of strength, and pain.  You can even get numbness and tingling (1). 

When you go in for an ART® session, you get a combination of an examination and treatment.  The practitioner will use their hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of the muscles.   

Once an issue is found, the practitioner will use a combination of precisely directed tension with very specific movements to treat the issue.  There are over 500 specific moves that are a part of ART® and each person or injury may be treated by several different movements (1). 

Here is a video that is about 5 minutes long but it does a good job of explaining what ART is and shows the process of an ART® treatment.



I went to Dr. Hoffart originally because I had pulled a muscle in my calf and had been having some Achilles Tendonitis for almost 4 months.  I had tried massage and acupuncture with minimal success.  I was training for my first 50k Ultra Trail Run and needed to get back to 100% as soon as possible.  I met with Dr. Hoffart several times and each time he started with the evaluation of not only my lower leg, but all the way up to my hips.  He checked for mobility and differences in strength.  He would hold my leg and ask me to push out, then repeat and have me push in.  We did this with both legs along with other similar tests.  He was able to see that I had some loss of strength in my injured leg as well as a loss of mobility. 

Dr. Hoffart was able to do several different ART® techniques and my mobility immediately increased.  My pain lessened and within about 3 visits, my issue was basically gone.  I had heard that ART® was extremely painful, but I really didn’t think it was that bad.  One thing that is great about ART® is that the whole idea is that you get treated and back on your feet quickly.  I have known a few Chiropractors to plan out a 6-12 month recovery plan (not saying that all Chiropractors are like that by any means).

Talking with Dr. Hoffart, when you get a massage and they are working on a knot, it is really painful. They are putting pressure directly on the knot, trying to work it out and break up scar tissue.  ART® on the other hand is using the act of your muscles lengthening to help break up the knots as well as scar tissue.  It is this process of your muscles moving to break down the knots that makes the pain less significant than if you were putting pressure directly on the knots.  I know that these are not the technical terms that are used in the industry, but it is how I understand it and how I can best describe it to non-medical professionals (since I’m just an ordinary desk jockey).  I honestly get lost when hearing about adhesions and different muscle groups that make up a larger muscle. 



The bottom line is that Dr. Hoffart was able to do what I was not able to do by just researching and doing exercises found on YouTube.  He healed my Achilles/calf issues and I was able to complete my first ultra distance race almost pain free (I had muscle soreness, but that was it). I can’t thank Dr. Hoffart enough and could not have a stronger recommendation for him as a doctor.  If you live in the greater Sacramento area, please let him help you out.  If you are out of the area, find an ART® specialist in your area.  They can help you get those injures healed so you can perform at your best.

Hoffart Chiropractic
6000 Fairway Drive, Suite 6
Rocklin CA
(916) 632-8315

References:
(1)    http://www.activerelease.com/ART-for-Patients.asp

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Topo Athletic Mangnifly 2 Review



If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I really like Topo Athletic shoes.  They offer shoes with a low heel drop and wide toe box.  This allows your toes to spread out instead of feeling claustrophobic like in most shoes.  The durability of the materials that they use is excellent as well.  The MT is one of the first pair of shoes that I reviewed on my blog.  It is still one of my favorite trail shoes because it is so light, comfortable, and really flexes with your foot.  The Hydroventure is an amazing trail shoe with a waterproof eVent material that keeps the water out but is still breathable.  Topo Athletic also has some amazing road shoes.  My favorite road shoe from Topo Athletic is the UltraFly because its lightweight, responsive, and has plenty of cushion.

I have tested 13 shoes from Topo Athletic and have been impressed with everyone.  Here are some of my past reviews.

Topo Athletic took the Magnifly and made some changes to get back to their roots.  Topo Athletic has been known for their zero drop shoes (with only a few exceptions in their lineup that had a low heel drop between 3-5mm).  The original Magnifly  had a 5mm heel drop and weighed in at 8.8 ounces.  The Mangifly 2 has a 0mm heel drop and weighs in slightly heavier at 10 ounces which actually surprises me since it looks like they have streamlined the second iteration of the shoe.  My guess is that the extra weight is in the midsole material.  While 10 ounces isn’t too heavy, I was curious why they added weight to the shoe since most of Topo ’s shoes tend to me on the more minimal side in both weight and cushion. 


First of all, if you are not familiar with Topo Athletic shoes, they fit snug in the heel and midfoot, while it they are looser in the toe box.  The wide toe box allows your toes to spread out, which has several benefits.  This will not only help you be more stable, but will also reduce foot injuries commonly caused by shoes that compress your toes.  They also typically have a low heel drop (most at zero drop) which promotes a more natural gait with less heel striking, generally speaking, and puts your body in a better alignment. 


The Mangifly 2 provides a responsive ride that is not only good for speed or track workouts, but is a great everyday trainer.  They would even be good on race day for shorter distances up to maybe a half-marathon (it might be suitable for longer races depending on your personal preferences though).  I have been using shoes with more cushion lately because of some Plantar Fasciitis issues, but the amount of cushion on the Mangifly 2 was just fine for me. 


Topo Athletic uses a Multi-Density Midsole material with two separate levels of cushioning.  There’s a softer level near your feet and a firmer more responsive level near the outsole (ground).  I felt like I was getting the responsiveness that I crave and the cushioning that made my feet happy.  That’s not to say that there’s a ton of cushion… it definitely isn’t a Hoka oversized sole, but it’s decent.


The Mangifly 2 comes in three men’s colors (Black/Black, Bright Green/Black, and Slate/Black) and three different women’s colors (Grey/Peach, Ice/Raspberry, and Navy/Pink).  The shoes really feel great from the moment you take them out of the box and give you enough cushion to really push, while still remaining relatively light.  I can’t get enough of shoes with the wider toe box.  Most of my foot pain (due to foot compression of narrow shoes) has disappeared since switching over to wider toe boxes.  I really like the Mangifly 2 for the simplicity and feel you get with them.  They are not overbuilt, but provide you with a great feeling throughout your gait cycle.  You really can’t beat the value either as they only cost $110 on the Topo Athletic website. 

Pros:
Lightweight (10.0 ounces)
Wide toe box allows toes to spread out
Zero heel drop allows for better form and posture
Great price ($110 at the Topo Athletic website)
Extremely flexible for a natural feel
Great mix of cushion and responsiveness

Cons:
1.2 ounces more than the first version

Topo Athletic’s Social Media Links:

As I have been saying with almost every review, Topo Athletic continually ups its game with each release of a new shoe.  The Mangifly 2 takes a great shoe and made it even better in most areas.  It feels light, even though they increased the weight of the shoe.  If you haven’t given Topo shoes a shot, you really should.  Everyone has different shoes that work for them, but Topo puts out some really great products.  You can get a pair at the Topo Athletic website, or check the Topo Athletic Store Locator for a store near you.  Give them a try today and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Brooks Ghost 10 GTX Review



I have reviewed several shoes from Brooks in the past few years.  The Glycerin 13 (which received Runner’s World’s Best Update Award for 2015), Glycerin 15, PureFlow 5, Neuro, Launch 3 (one of my all-time favorites), Launch 4, Ghost 9, and the Caldera (the first Brooks Trail shoe that I’ve tested).   They all are great shoes that I use on a rotating basis in my training.  The Ghost 9 is one of Brooks most popular shoes and they have come out with a newer version, the Ghost 10.  Along with the Ghost 10, they have a fully waterproof version named the Ghost 10 GTX.  The Ghost 10 was awarded Runner’s World “Editor’s Choice” which is only given to the top shoes out there.


Brooks is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.  Maybe that is why they are so awesome (I grew up in Eastern Washington so maybe I am a little biased).  Brooks motto is to “Run Happy” but they also try to “Live Green.” Their headquarters building is right near the water and just across the street is a trail head that leads to nearly 30 miles of trails to run on.  How awesome would it be to work there?  They invite the public to come in if they are ever in the Seattle area for a free treadmill gait analysis and to check out all of the latest Brooks running gear and apparel.  


The Brooks Ghost 10 GTX has a 12mm heel drop, is a neutral shoe, and weighs in at 11.3 ounces (only 0.9 ounces heavier than the Ghost 10).  This shoe is ideal for people with medium to high arches and is a great shoe for all road running, from easy runs to races and everything in between.  Brooks describes them as offering “the smoothest ride possible with GORE-TEX® technology, for neutral runners who want a plush adaptable fit.” 

The Ghost 10 GTX has many of the same features as the Ghost 10 including 3D Fit Print overlays, which is a revolutionary process that uses a screen-print technology to apply the structural material to the upper part of the shoe.   The upper has four way stretch and moves well with your feet


Both the Ghost 10 and Ghost 10 GTX have soft cushioning which uses Brooks BioMoGo DNA midsole that adapts to your stride.  The shoe has a new plush transition zone which allow for a smoother ride.  The Segmented Crash Pad will allow your foot to flex and connect with the ground no matter how your foot lands.  I like this feature because some shoes outsoles are less flexible and can be less forgiving when it comes to how your foot lands on the ground.  Every runner’s foot lands slightly different (and it can even change in the span of a run).  Therefore a segmented crash pad will allow for a better gait and more enjoyable experience overall, which I found to be true.  There are some additional flex grooves they call “Omega Flex Grooves” which provides even more foot flexibility.

The main difference between the Ghost 10 and Ghost 10 GTX is the GORE-TEX® inner liner.   GORE-TEX® has been one of the leading companies when it comes to waterproofing for as long as I can remember.  It provides a waterproof membrane, but still allows for breathability so you don’t overheat.  While it is somewhat breathable, it will build up more heat than a standard mesh upper, so keep that in mind.  On the flip-side though, it can be a great shoe for those colder mornings, whether it’s wet or not, because it will hold in a little more heat.  I have really enjoyed the waterproof option of the Ghost 10 GTX on my 3:30 AM long training runs in the rain.  I am all about training in nasty conditions, but having dry feet is definitely a plus.   As seen in the first picture of this review, I ran through a 4” deep puddle and my feet remained completely dry.  I also ran in the rain a few times where my feet remained dry.  Not too shabby.


The laces tongue is semi-gusseted, which means that the tongue is connected (sewn in) about half way up the tongue.  That helps to keep the water out of the shoe.  The laces stay put and have two loops on the tongue itself to keep the tongue from moving from side to side. 


I have put over 50 miles on the Ghost 10 GTX and I really like the feel and comfort of the shoe.  The smooth transition and flexible outsole make running in the Ghost 10 GTX a very enjoyable experience.  They aren’t as plush/cushy as the Glycerin 15, but still feel great.   

My only complaint is that the heel drop/offset is larger than I would prefer at 12mm.  This really is a personal preference, but I tend to like my heel drop to be below 6mm.  It is something I have trained my feet for and usually look for in my shoes, personally.  That is not to say that 12mm would not be perfect for you or for me on occasion.  It really depends on the heel drop that you have trained your feet to run in and how the shoe is built.  This is not a deal breaker for me though. And I did not feel that the heel drop would be an issue for me in this shoe.

Pros:
Fit true to size (for me)
Looks awesome (several color options)
Light weight at 11.3 ounces
Feels great and fits like a glove.
Segmented Crash Pad flexes with your foot
WATERPROOF!!! GORE-TEX® liner keeps your feet nice and dry
90 Day Trial at Brooks.com (Free Returns)

Cons:
The 12mm heel drop can be a little much if you are used to smaller heel drops/offsets.
Price is a little on the higher side at $150.

Brooks’ Social Media Links

Brooks keeps putting out great shoes.  The Ghost 10 GTX is an awesome shoe that will let your feet stay dry and comfortable (you might need to think of another excuse on those wet days if you are trying to avoid wet feet).  The Ghost 10 GTX retails for $150 on the Brooks website.  While the price is a little higher than many of the shoes out there, they are an awesome pair of shoes that will really help you enjoy those rainy/snowy runs.  The added price may also be for the waterproofing GORE-TEX® so take that into account.  You can find them at the Brooks website or your local retailer (click here for locations).  Go to your local running store and give them a test run.  I would love to know what you think. 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.