An Accidental Affirmation
Hey, last week I embarked on what was supposed to be a long, gentle run down in the Wicklow mountains. Pulling up to the car park I had now idea what was in store for me. I had a rough idea of the general direction I wanted to travel in and a particular peak in mind but if I had bothered to look in more detail at the terrain and distances involved I almost certainly wouldn't have gone.
I've recently got back into running after a lengthy hiatus, I've never been a fast runner or competitive by any means but there is something about the challenge and freedom of covering relatively large distances powered only by your own two legs that I find quite liberating. (Side note: If that wasn't too sickeningly pretentious for you then please read on. If you have indeed already punched a hole in your computer screen in disgust well, then, tough. It stays!).
Anyway... back to the run. What I intended to be a ten kilometre jaunt through some ambling trails turned into an arduous twenty kilometre, uphill battle of a run. Over two hours after setting out and four thousand feet of vertical elevation and decent I limped back into the car park at the trail head, feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.
When I got home I went through my usual routine of making food while beginning my recovery process which consists of using a bicycle inner tube to add compression to my lower limbs. Now, let me say this before I carry on; the use of compression through various methods is nothing new, it's been applied as a recovery tool for heaven knows how long but I had never realised the true extent of its effectiveness until that day (or more accuratly, the day after).
You see, on that fateful day back there in, well, last week, for one reason or another (definitely not down to laziness) I neglected to finish off my recovery process by applying these techniques to my left leg as well as my right.
Let me tell ya what I experienced upon waking the very next day. I was astonished to find that I felt as if half of my lower body had clawed its way through twenty kilometres of very hilly terrain while the other felt fresh, indifferent and ready to rock and roll.
Wow! I couldn't believe what I was feeling, I still can't believe just how effective a recovery tool compression is and now i'm going to show you how to use one the quickest, cheapest, simplest and most effective recovery tools there is.
Adding compression works by driving lymphatic fluids back up into the lymphatic system, reducing swelling and promoting increased circulation to the affected area thus removing de-oxygenated blood and introducing oxygenated, nutrient carrying blood to the damaged tissues, or so the science goes, I think. I don't really care, it worked on my weary leg(s) and that all that matters, right?
Here's how: Grab an old inner tube, slice it down the middle and in half so you have one long strip of rubber. Simply wrap the tubing around the desired area from the ground up, overlapping the rubber by about a centimetre and tuck in at the end (See pic). Use roughly 70% tension, it wants to be tight but we don't wanna lose a leg. Once you have the area compressed you can spend a couple of minutes moving the limb through its range of motion (flexing and extending the knee to work the hamstrings and quads for example) before moving onto the next segment.
And there it is, so simple but astonishingly effective, and you can use this technique pretty much anywhere you can wrap the tubing, including joints.
So have a go next time you finish a punishing training session wrap your legs up and let the magic take over.
Till next time,