Friday, September 19, 2008

Alternate sports therapy 2.0

Came across a great article in the October edition of National Geographic Adventure magazine on alternate forms of therapy regarding sports injury therapy. Having recently gone though similar experiences wanted to chime in with my own experiences with a couple of the methods mentioned.

Competing in both cycling and long distance running; I have suffered a few knee injuries along the way. Most were minor in that I didn't tear or damage a ligament or cartilage; but the injury has left me hobbling around for some time.

Usually the remedy would be to take a anti-inflammatory; in my case I recommend Aleve; along with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method of healing. Though recently the aching in my knee spread up to my hip causing me to be sidelined from training; which as we all know makes for a fun individual to be around. At first I thought it was more tightness of the IT band; so I hit the foam roller every day for about an hour; with little relief when I started to run.

So after speaking to a few sports medicine specialists; who were advocating alternate forms of treatment; besides the normal surgery followed by PT regemin. I decided to explore what one treatement called Prolotherapy; which is refered to the "Anti anti-inflammatory"; which is an injection of typically glucose, distalled water, along with lidocaine, and in some cases zync may also be part of the active substance. The difference with prolotherapy; unlike a normal anti-inflammatory drug is it promotes the growth of tissue in areas where the tissue has grown weak.

I decided to try over the course of a two month three injections into the knee; both leaving it a little tender at first; but after the two months the pain had significantly reduced and the stability has returned. Is it for everyone; no; it really depends on the severity of the condition; again its best to consult with a sports medicine specialist.

The other therapy I decided to try was a treatment called Active Release Techinque (ART). With most endurance atheletes; injuries to joints are quite common due to stress repetitive movements. Usually scar tissue builds up in the muscle, tendon, and ligaments to stabilize the area; but this build up also hinders the stressed area from returning to normal function. ART is meant to examine and treat these areas where the scar tissue has built up.

I visited a therapist who specializes in what some may feel is a form of toture; after the first couple of sessions. They dug their fingers and thumbs deep along the quad and knee region to release the built up scar tissue; for those who have seen the body hair removal scene from "40 year old virgin"; I had very similar verbal outbursts. After the session though my knee felt limber; and the normal flexability had returned without the pain.

Both of these treatments though come with a cost; both are typically around 120 - 150 dollars a session; with an added bonus that your insurance company may not cover. I benefited by both treatments; again on recommendations given to me; what it does provide is alternatives from what has been perceived as the only options for recovery out there.

Random facts about me and what I've learned along the way

Interlude between wellness and training topics a few random facts about me; and being Esquire magazine's 75th anniversary a little about what I've learned along the way

I have way more education then I know what to do with
I can cook a wicked pot of sauce
I'm a vegetarian for the most part; but I do some mean BBQ; and I mean real BBQ
I'm addicted to burgundies; which has resulted some interesting Amex statements
I'm a metrosexual when it comes to hair and body products
I think I've spent more on a pair of cycling shoes then I have on dress shoes
Along the way I've probably spent way to much on cycling clothes as well
I use the word wicked way to much for some one in their late 30's
If you want to get on my good side; mention coffee and oatmeal cookies
My yellow lab Madison has taught me that life is all about the little things
I've learned never to leave my meal unattended around Madison
I recommend a Labrador if you want to go on a diet
If you ask me to take care of your dog I will probably say yes
My humor has been my best friend and worst enemy
If you don't have a sense of not to hang with me
I don't take life seriously
My career is my passion
I think fly fishing is under appreciated
I have shed materialism for minimalism
I have no game...that's right no game
I'm self deprecating....I believe one must be able to laugh at themselves first
I believe good spelling and grammar is a lost art form
I'm an avid Boston Red Sox fan
Up until 2004 I dreaded each and every baseball season
I'm not an expert in foreign policy; but I understand one basic principle; respect your neighbors; they probably wouldn't appreciate you invading their household
I have crashed my mountain bike more then I care to remember; and in some cases I don't
Not sure but I think I did a cyclocross race with a concusion
I have scars that I can't explain; and some in interesting places
I've been humiliated cycling in the Pyrenees by a Spaniard who smoked; while he rode
If you want me to compete in a race all you have to say is "Why are you worried?"
I know that the dirt in Moab tastes very different then the dirt in North Carolina
A GPS is a good thing when Mountain Biking
I figured out the hard way that not all the Golden Stairs were meant to be traversed
I don't recommend testing your new road bike by riding down a set of stairs
There is nothing like taking a full suspension mountain bike down mid-town Manhattan
I understood from a very young age that being the youngest had its advantages
I also learned that having two older sisters results in a continuous stream of ass beatings
Don't ever refer to your father as "Bob"; when his first name is neither Bob or Robert; matter of fact never refer to your father as anything but "dad" or "pop"
I know the difference between pop, soda, and tonic
I believe that the signal light just provides other motorists the opportunity to block you

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Off season cross training

Jumping right into the blogging waters for the first time; tackling a subject that is relevant to the time of year.

As the fall approaches; the daylight hours dwindle; a nip in the air; alas it also spells the end of the 2008 racing season for many of us. I will try and extend it by doing a couple cyclo-cross races; but for the most part I'm looking at my off season cross training.

Much talk and thought over the past few years have been put into this topic; with many seasoned coaches and experts in the area sports sciences recommending that you get off the saddle and refine your skills in other physical activities. Why is this important; well one its both physically and mentally exhausting to spend all your time on the saddle; and will lead to the risk of burn out and potential for injury.

So whats a cyclist to do; well for one I'm training for the North Face endurance run in San Francisco. I'm looking to use the 50 mile trail run as a prep to work on improving my pace, anaerobic ability, keep my legs fresh, and at the same time further refine my agility. I hope this off season provides me what I need; as I look to compete in a number of events in 2009; the highlight being the Leadville 100.

Other things a cyclist can do; the key is to keep the legs in shape, maintain your cardio, improve your core, balance, stability, and agility. All of this will add up to a successful 2009 season; and for me when it comes time I'm hungery to get back on the saddle.

Some sports to consider; of course this depends upon your region of the country; soccer, hockey (ice or inline), basketball, squash/tennis, running (trail or road), swimming, x-country sking and a little pilates/yoga goes a long way. So what are some of the benefits of these sports when applied to cycling; coordination, work the legs (quads, glutes, and calves), along with the fast twitching muscles, eye and hand coordination, balance, stability, agility.

Along with your cross training activity; doesn't hurt and again recommended to get on the bike for an hour or two a week and do some quick spinning low impact riding just to maintain muscle memory. The goal here is to work up to a fast cadence in short intervals over the off season. Depending upon the region you live in this can be done on the trainer or outdoors.

If your primarily a road cyclist; weather permitting; and being in the Bay Area I'm spoiled; change it up and do some mountain biking. Last off season; I set the road bike aside and spent it on the saddle of mountain bike; taking a recommended suggestion from another cycling coach. I found that it improved my overall handling skills, balance, and agility; in the case of skidding on wet pavement I found that able to regain control much quicker then I had in the past.

Along with various cross training sports; I also start to schedule in a 2 - 3 circuit training workouts a week; developing the overall core, upper body, lower back, and the legs. Here's a complete workout that I might do during a session;

(12 - 15 reps) x 2

Alternating squats/lunges with weights/medicine ball
Medicine ball chops
plank (alternate lifting one leg and holding for 10 - 20 seconds)
Stability ball crunches
Squat jumps
scissor kicks
leg presses (Add a fast component to simulate explosive power)
Get ups (In a push up position; do a single push up; on the up position explode out; sprinting for 10 yards)
Bicycle crunch exercise
Lower back extensions (Add a medicine ball for an added bonus)
Seated side to side twists with medicine ball
Oblique crunches
Jump rope (can't do this to save my life)
Knee tucks

I tend to break these exercises up into a 2 groups; alternating during the week along with a cardio/anaerobic activity mixed in.

Remember the key in the off season is one further development of functional strength, avoid injury and enjoy the mental break from cycling. You will look forward to get back on the saddle for those long training rides come spring.

Next up nutrition and measuring improvement in the off-season.