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