Ask Rocco 12/22/15

For those with hip and back pain, here’s your Christmas present

By Rocco Castellano

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 and 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 feel like I’ve done everything I could do. Sh-t, 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 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 itself a break. I never realized how much I actually sit until I realized how much pain I was in.

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 knew 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 ninth 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, you’re not the only one. I hadn’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.

When a knot forms in a muscle, the same effect can be seen with the muscle length shortening and the bones being pulled out of alignment. If this tension forms in the hamstrings the pelvis is pulled down and create a hunched back posture in the spine.

It is one thing to know 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 adequate explanation to what muscle tension is… well Nic really gave 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.

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.

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. If you’d like to try one out go to and get one for yourself.

The views and opinions expressed in Ask Rocco are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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