Thursday, December 16, 2010

Humpty Dumpty

Since it's the off-season and training is more exercising and traveling is to the train station to pick up friends from out of town and does not require a bike box, I figured I would continue with the body comfort/wellness/healing/put-back-together-with-triple-twist-twine-and-a-staple-gun theme.  Conveniently that's one of the goals of off-season anyway, to physically and mentally rekindle the fire and the ability to foster its burn, deeply and continually, for another however long.

What I've learned is that when it comes to recovery, necessity really is the mother of invention.  Here are a few legal ideas of how to meet those necessities. Triple twist twine and a staple gun isn't too far off...

About ten days before IM Cozumel I tweaked my left hamstring, not enough to put me on the couch, but certainly enough to drive my brain in concerned circles and my body into ice, epsom salts, and massage therapy.  I'd like to say all of that worked, especially the insomniactic worrying, but well, sometimes the silver bullet is a little tarnished.  I arrived in Mexico still hamstrung, literally.

So I got out my scissors.  I tell ya, digging that uncooperative hamstring out of my thigh with scissors was so much easier than if I had used a dull spoon.  I mean! thigh-high compression socks would have been so much happier if I had used a dull spoon.

Compression was the only thing I had not tried, simply because I didn't have anything that fit the need or the body part....yet.  What was once on the left is now on the right: a mid-thigh-high compression sock became a thigh-only (hip to knee) compression sleeve.  Twelve hours later the acute pain was gone, and seventy-two hours later I raced (not wearing this "sexy" home-made contraption) with not a single protest from the leg.  Well, not that part of the leg anyway.

Before that, compression gear fell into that "make my body feel generally better instead of generally worse" category.  I wore it after long runs, for flying, and to address injuries below the knee.  I certainly had never self-engineered a piece of clothing.  I'm sure some people will add this to the pile of "reasonably convincing" anecdotal evidence, but now, you could say I'm sold, hook, line, and hamstring. 

My other trick has been handed down through generations of triathletes and was brought across the ocean by my triathlete-forefathers from Girona, Spain, arguably the European home of professional cycling and a hotbed of body maintenance tips from some of the hardest used bodies in sport.  I was reminded just how forward-thinking the trick is when I saw this.

Well, tada!
My $3.50 version: tennis balls and packing tape
I made this several years ago.  What do I use it for?  Pretty much everything except blending my smoothies.  I could stop traveling with my foam roller and Stick; I could prop my low back (or head in a serious nap pinch) during long plane flights; I can adjust my own back (this alone was worth a million tennis balls); I can roll out my IT bands et al.; and with the left over tennis ball, massage the balls of my feet and my piriformis.

It comes down to this generality: the longer your recovery takes, from injury or simply your most recent workout, the longer you take to get back to training and getting faster etc.  Sometimes sitting on the couch with your legs elevated just doesn't get the job done.  Think about - or feel - what your body needs and beg, borrow, or simply make it.  A little duct tape goes a long way...and is great for covering blisters!

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