By: Rachel Lethorn, MS, PA-C, ATC
Are you performing at your best? Can you remember the last time you experienced pain, muscle aches or soreness? My name is Rachel Lethorn, owner and CEO of Med Sports Vantage a specialty medical practice focusing on pain relief, sports medicine and wellness. As a currently licensed practicing professional in the medical industry it is my mission to help you reach your optimal health and peak performance. I first obtained board certification as a Certified Athletic, and then continued my education to become a licensed and board certified Physician Assistant. Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. (National Athletic Trainers Asssociation, n.d.) Physician Assistants (PAs) are medical professionals who are board certified and state licensed to practice medicine with a collaborating physician offering patient centered healthcare. (American Academy of Physician Assistants, n.d.) As a former competitive NCAA Division I gymnast and current medical practitioner experiencing both ends of the medical and athlete spectrum from the success to the failures surrounding pain and injuries, I wanted to make a difference. I’ve been fortunate to have been mentored by some of the best in the medical field and trained by several Doctor of Osteopathic (DO) physicians. Osteopathic physicians primarily focus on a form of drug-free non-invasive medical treatment that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, which includes the joints, muscles and spine, positively affecting the body’s nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems. (American Asssociation of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, 2017) Osteopaths do not simply concentrate on treating the problem area, but use manual techniques to balance all the systems of the body. Armed with a wealth of medical knowledge I began working with athletes to help relieve their pain through osteopathic manipulations and focusing on overall health with a whole-body approach to health care.
Over time one thing I noticed was no matter how effective my treatment was in the gym, when the athletes were at home not only would their pain resurface but they had a difficult time resolving their own pain effectively by themselves. As a parent, I’ve enjoyed being able to help my own family and children with their aches and pains, and promoting a lifestyle that educates and inspires them to maintain and continue to strive to reach optimal health. I wanted other parents to be able to help their family’s and little ones to reduce injuries and promote good health practices too. My patients, athletes and family have been the catalyst that ignited the spark to create change. In my personal pursuit to invoke change in how we deal with pain in a healthy non-addictive therapeutic manner, as well as how we can begin educating and invoke the type of change that instilled healthy lifestyle choices, I began to develop and design a therapeutic pain management tool that was simple to use, and would effectively reduce muscle aches and pains for everyone, the Massage Tracker.
There are several known effective solutions for muscle aches and pains including: professional massage, increased water intake, daily stretching, medications, etc. However, the difficulty is that most of us are not professional massage therapist and typically unsure what stretches would work and likely unable to resolve the pain on our own. The other problem is that many people are taking the correct resolutions for pain relief, and yet the pain persist. As there are also many other people who simply do not have the time in their schedule to do all the correct measures to get the pain relief they require.
Pain has become a National Epidemic with so many suffering. According to the IASP, International Association for the Study of Pain, defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” (IASP Task Force on Taxonomy, 2012). Additionally, pain is considered to “always be subjective” in nature and learned through our past experiences. One thing I like to emphasize to my patients is your pain is real to you. Thus, helping find something that will help you is important. I envisioned a tool that would be a good first step in the process to reduce pain, help people who suffer unbearable pain and are stuck with dealing with a broken medical system surrounding patient’s health care quick fix diagnosis and costly medical insurance premiums. Pain left untreated in anyway regardless the level of pain from minimal to severe has a significant effect on a person’s quality of life.
According to the AAPM, American Academy of Pain Medicine “millions suffer from acute or chronic pain every year and the effects of pain exact a tremendous cost on our country in health care costs, rehabilitation and lost worker productivity, as well as the emotional and financial burden it places on patients and their families.” (American Academy of Pain Medicine, n.d.) To help define the financial burden, the Institute of Medicine released a report: “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560-$635 billion annually, an amount equal to about $2,000.00 for everyone living in the U.S. This includes the total incremental cost of health care due to pain from ranging between $261 to $300 billion and $297-$336 billion due to lost productivity (based on days of work missed, hours of work lost, and lower wages).” (Institute of Medicine Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care and Education, 2011)
Since everyone’s pain is different, the tool needed to provide different solutions for everyone and yet be simple for everyone to use. My husband, Brad Lethorn, helped develop my idea into reality. His engineering knowledge helped to design one of the best therapeutic tools on the market today. We made several prototypes and tested our theory on real people. At the close of the development process, my husband and I developed the tool that is currently known as the Massage Tracker. This tool has given me the ability to effectively help my patients in the gym or office as well as send them home with a therapeutic pain relief tool on the go allowing my patients to mitigate pain if or when it returns before coming back in for follow up treatments.
The patented Massage Tracker is a therapeutic hand-held multi-use massage tool. This muscle massage tool utilizes a tracking device to guide a tennis ball right into the root of your pain for easy relief. The edges of the Massage Tracker were also designed to provide further pain relief options. The Massage Tracker has an ergonomic design to reduce stress in your wrist and hands. I personally have been using a tennis ball for years to provide effective pressure. However, it is difficult to get the tennis ball where you want it to go without taking it on and off the point of pain. The Massage Tracker provided an effective and affordable tool that easily glides the tennis ball into the correct area, as well as offering the different edges designed for pain relief. The tennis ball has a soft felt exterior with a hollow rubberized structure which provides the ability to massage with varying amounts of pressure with accuracy and versatility. This hollow rubberized core structure allows the user to apply varying pressures for comfort as needed for maximum results. The tennis ball is great for an overall soft tissue massage with the ability to quickly target deep tissue areas as needed.
The edges of the Massage Tracker also provide multiple choices for pain relief. The contoured blade fits the body in multiple areas to pull the edge of the blade over your muscles. This edge is especially helpful with leg, arm and neck muscles. This edge provides soft tissue mobilization massage which increases circulation and helps to relieve both acute and chronic pain.
The finger projections of the Massage Tracker can be used to save your hands while working on yourself or others. These finger projections easily massage difficult to reach areas. The projections can be held in place, pulled over the muscle or rubbed back and forth to simulate a cross friction massage. Applying a cross-friction technique by rubbing back and forth over the muscle is targeting the deep tissues and helps with prevention of adhesions, reduction of swelling and increasing circulation.
Using the hard dome of the Massage Tracker is also effective in muscle pain relief especially with the feet and back. Removing the tennis ball and lying the Massage Tracker flat on the floor, allows the dome to be easily used on the bottom of the foot. This technique is excellent in working the fascia and muscles of the feet. You can also use the hard dome against your back trapping the massage tracker between you and a hard surface or chair. This technique provides a trigger point type relief. The authors of “Trigger Points Diagnosis and Management” article in American Family Physician define trigger points as “discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. They produce pain locally and in a referred pattern and often accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders.” (DAVID J. ALVAREZ, 2002) Using the Massage Tracker, you can easily locate these trigger point areas and provide muscle pain relief.
The Massage Tracker was designed for muscles. Not only is it effective on humans, it works on animals too. The Massage Tracker edges have been effective in helping muscle aches and pains with Arabian horses and dogs. The edges of the tool were used the same way as described above and provided excellent results.
When we think of performance, we think of athletes. I believe each of us have the inner athlete inside of ourselves. Regardless of the size of the arena you happen to play on. We as humans push our bodies daily to perform in life. Reaching your bodies peak performance in life is important no matter who you are: male or female, young or old, elite or amateur athlete, coach, parent, grandparent, business executive, student, weekend warrior or fan in the crowd your health is priority. My goal is help you achieve your peak performance, and bring out the inner athlete in you. Using the Massage Tracker will help relieve muscle aches and pains to perform at your best. Are you ready to take the Massage Tracker Challenge? Visit www.wearemassages.com to experience the freedom of the Massage Tracker.
National Athletic Trainers Asssociation. (n.d.). Athletic Training. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from https://www.nata.org/about/athletic-training
American Academy of Physician Assistants. (n.d.). What is a PA? Retrieved from American Academy of Physician Assistants: https://www.aapa.org/what-is-a-pa/
American Asssociation of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. (2017, March). What is Osteopathic Medicine? Retrieved from American Asssociation of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine: https://www.aacom.org/become-a-doctor/about-om
American Academy of Pain Medicine. (n.d.). AAPM Facts and Figures on Pain. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from American Academy of Pain Medicine the Voice of Pain Medicine: https://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx
DAVID J. ALVAREZ, D. a. (2002, Feb 15). Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management. American Family Physician, 65(4), 653-661.
IASP Task Force on Taxonomy. (2012, May 22). IASP Taxonomy. (I. P. H. Merskey and N. Bogduk, Ed.) Retrieved March 5, 2017, from IASP, International Association for the Study of Pain: https://www.iasp-pain.org/Taxonomy
Institute of Medicine Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care and Education. (2011). Relieving Pain in America, A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care Education and Research. The National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine, Institute of Medicine Report Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care and Education. The National Academies Press.
About the Author:
Rachel Lethorn, founder and CEO of Med Sports Vantage is a dedicated medical professional. As a wife and mother to 3 children, former NCAA Division I gymnast, coach, global wellness advocate and medical practitioner she enjoys using all her skills to serve the community. She has combined her experience with sports and her medical knowledge to educate, improve, empower and inspire her patients to reach their optimal health and peak performance. She invented the Massage Tracker, a hand-held massage tool to effectively reduce muscle pain with therapy on the go for everyone.