Friday, July 22, 2011

Catching up with more than just running...

So, in the last 12-14 months, I've gone from giving up endurance horse riding for a number of reasons, namely that I didn't have horses reliably available anymore... to walking a whole lot because I had to (during a holiday), and realising that the back problems I always would get if I didn't ride for a few weeks would come back... to starting to go, in winter (brr), for walks at least 2-3 times per week from about July 2010... then getting bored of that, and starting to run a little in between, even when a chest infection threatened to stop that (very gradually) more running than walking, to only running except a bit of a warm up.

Who would have thought?

There was a lot more between the lines there, but really, that was my essence. I had to push through the pain I felt, but only to a small degree because really, pain indicates something is wrong, right?!

I found that wearing compression tights such as BSc or Skins make a HUGE difference to running capability with compartment syndrome, and even now I feel like I've moved beyond the compartment syndrome, I still prefer to wear the lycra pants (haha!) to anything else - so much less pain in recovery and its comfortable to run that way too.

What else did I find? I found that using a vibration platform can literally make the difference between compartment syndrome going away into oblivion and having to suffer through it...

I started to use an industrial physiotherapist's "platform" when I was in recovery mode from my compartment syndrome surgery in Jan or Feb 2010. I had an extended recovery, that just didn't seem to make sense - a fit and healthy pre-30 year old, how come it took nearly 4 months to show any real improvement?! Then within a week of one-two sessions of this platform, I could take the compression stockings off that I was relying on to minimise swelling and pain... I could start to ride horses again (although this ended up being short lived), and I felt more "human" again.

I started to look at them for my own use - a new sports store was opening up near us, and I found one for $300 in there. Considering the cost of seeing the physio on a regular basis, it was probably better to go for the $300 and spread out my use on the platform and strengthen up, than it was to rely on their more heavy-duty one... so... we had a new toy in the house.

At first I just started to use it a bit here and there. It made my recovery much quicker, and when I couldn't get any riding in, I could stand on the platform for a couple of minutes at a time, once or twice a day, and I'd feel much more like I had "done something" for the day.

What ARE these platforms I'm talking about, I hear you say?

A model or two above mine

This is a bit of a mind-heavy description on why the vibration things can be good (and a bit on how they work).

Wiki burb

So how does all this come together?

Well, I go walking/running for (say) 30 or 40 minutes before work. I then get on the platform and do squats or just stand on it for 2 x 2 minute blocks. As I get fitter, do more running and my body is more used to the platform, that stretches to 2 x 3-4 minute blocks, and includes some push ups and other activities (put a mat on the platform, then do push ups while its going). It doesn't take long at first for the body to tire of the different exercises, so its a bit of a mixed bag there (just "bridging"/plank, push ups, etc).

Then in the early days, I did a ritual of 3-5 different leg stretches as well. If I did this, I would be able to walk the next day and without much stiffness - well, except on the stairs at work!! :)

Gradually I got sick of the stretches, and I didn't feel any benefit, so for some time it has just been a matter of doing my run, doing some time on the platform (even 3 minutes of just standing on it is good), then shower, shovel breakfast and go.

It probably took me 6 months of gradually increasing my use of the platform and getting fitter, before I could stop focusing on the stretches though. Then, I've "weaned" myself off the need for it every time, as I figured I cannot always have direct access to it ;)

I'll give more information on my running "plan" another time, but, this may give a little more insight into how I came to be running 13km + in one go when I shouldn't be able to run at all.