Hydrotherapy … 🤔

 

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I spent the past weekend in Whistler|Backcomb where my daughter treated me to a Scandinavian Spa experience. I was sceptical. I have a steam bath most days at the club. Why would I want one with a whole lot of other people for 3 hours?

Boy, was I wrong. I can’t wait to do it again!

Do you know what hydrotherapy is? I didn’t. I get wet a lot, but never considered it as therapy.

This is how the Scandinave Spa Whistler’s website defines hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water with contrast in temperature to revitalize, maintain and restore health. The recuperative and healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its thermal effects. Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity. Alternating hot and cold water improves elimination of toxins, decreases inflammation and stimulates circulation.

For 3 hours we wandered the facility, experiencing the heated pools, saunas, cold baths, and relaxation rooms. Heat for 10-15 minutes 😀 Cold water for 10-20 seconds 😕 And, then relation rooms for 10-15 minutes 😀 We did this circuit 5 times.

Oh. I forgot. You can’t talk. There are hush signs everywhere 🤐 Three hours of heat, cold, relaxation, and quiet. That was the hardest part. I’m gregarious by nature. I like talking with people, even if I have never met them before. I didn’t dare make eye contact with anyone.

At the end, we sat in the sun with a warm cup of tea before having a cleansing shower.

Now I take my steam baths at the club differently. I stay in 10-15 minutes, take a cold shower for as long as I can stand it, wash off in warm water, and then slowly towel off, dress, and pack up.

Heat. Cold. Relax.

 

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Tapering … 🤔

Ok. I get it.

Tapering means “to reduce gradually”. I looked it up.

You see, this is not what I have been doing. A week before an event, I would stop training, rest, and eat more carbs. That’s what a taper meant to me.

Where in the world did I get this understanding 🤔

I have the Pacific Populaire, the first local century ride of the season, fast approaching in 3 weeks. I want, no need, to taper. I have been training hard for 4 months, and actually feel I have over trained. I have all of the classic symptoms. Sore muscles. Tiredness. And, lack lustre motivation.

I need to taper.

So, for the past week, I have researched on-line resources to determine how, and when to taper. And, we all know how dependable on-line resources are, don’t we Donald. Here are several of the key things I learned that make sense, at least to me.

  1. There is no one way to taper. If fact, tapering is part science, and equal part art. You see, every circumstance, and every individual is different. You need to experiment to see what works best for you.
  2. The longer you have been training, the longer the taper needs to be. And, the older you are, the longer the taper needs to be. That’s me. I’m old, and I have been training hard for over 4 months.
  3. Some pundits advise tapering 1 week for every hour the event will take to complete. I have a 3-4 hour event coming up but 4 weeks seems excessive.
  4. During a taper, reduce the volume, not the intensity, of your workouts. Continue high-intensity workouts, even the week before the event
  5. Gradually reduce the volume of your workouts throughout the taper. The purpose for this is to maintain your current fitness level, and at the same time, rest more. Begin with a 25-30% reduction and gradually increase this to 40-50% the week immediately before the event.
  6. Continue to eat a well balanced, natural diet. There is no need to “carbo load” if you are accustomed to high-intensity training on a clean diet.
  7. Hydrate well several days prior to the event, particularly if the weather is hot and humid.

I got it. I have been doing this all wrong. My tapers, if they existed at all, have been too short, and not gradual. No gradual 😂

I have 3 weeks until the Pacific Populaire. So, my taper starts now.

“How will I know this method is more or less effective than what I have done in the past?”, you ask.

Well, I am going to keep a detailed tapering journal to review, reflect, and re-assess  following the event.

That sounds like fun, eh.

How to roll your IT Bands and Quads … đŸ¤”

I had a leg massage today.

This is the first massage I have had in years. I want to see if massage can aid with recovery. Many professional cyclist swear by them. I have been training hard for the past 3 months, and despite an increased focus on rest days, quality sleep and restorative nutrition, I have noticed increased muscle soreness, particularly in the legs.

Will massage help?

Massage is as integral to a professional cyclist’s daily routine as riding the bike is. What does massage do for a cyclist?  First and foremost massage promotes recovery by flushing the toxins up to the heart so that new oxygenated blood can circulate. If you notice, the massage therapist will always rub the muscles upwards towards the heart. The massage is actually pushing out the muscle’s carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and heart which is then filtered to come out as oxygen rich blood that goes back into the muscles.  The body will do this naturally but massage drastically speeds up the process.

It’s too early to tell. I just had the massage today. I’ll have to wait several days to know. But I can say that the massage made me more aware of which muscles need attention. I learned that my IT bands and quads are tight, and sore, probably the result of overuse. Could this be the reason my right knee and hip hurt at times?  It’s possible 🤔

The masseuse suggested I begin using a roller regularly to self-massage these muscles  following every workout, and long ride.

IT Band – The illiotibial band (ITB) is a thick strap of soft tissue that extends down the outside of your leg. It’s notoriously hard to work on using traditional stretching movements but, if allowed to become overly tight, can be at the root of a number of common and painful knee problems. The best method for keeping your ITB functioning optimally is to use a foam roller.

Quads – This muscle group at the front of your thighs consists of four muscles, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and sartorius. The rectus femoris especially is responsible for driving your pedals around but, if allowed to become too tight, can have an adverse effect on both posture and biomechanics, resulting in lower back pain and potentially hip and knee problems.

I see people in the gym using rollers, and noticed we have several. Some harder than others. The masseuse suggested using one after every workout when the muscles are warm, gradually building up the number of rolling repetitions over several weeks..

This is not the first time rollers have been recommended to me. My son, who is a personal trainer, even made me one with a re-cycled cardboard tube and inner tube. It’s around somewhere, but I found it too hard, and short to use effectively. The masseuse suggested beginning with a softer version that is 2-3 feet in length.

Knowing these muscles are tight, and that they may be causing discomfort, or possibly injury, I’ll try using a roller for the next month, and then book another massage. I’m not ready to begin to taper for the Pacific Populaire but will treat this rolling regimen as part of the tampering process. I want to be rested, and injury free for the event.

If you have had experience with a roller, I’d like to hear about it.