Monday, April 27, 2009

as good as sliced bread: Trigger Point Massage Ball

One of my many mini ailments over the years has been tight muscles. Yes, Yes i know that Yoga and stretching are things that I need to do, but never seem to be able to get around to it.

My hot zones include my IT band, especially where my bulging quad muscle transitions to the it band, my hamstrings, lower back, psoaz,
soleus by the calf

back of the shoulder


Without my usual rub down and physiotherapist on staff I've resorted to a whole cadre of tools to help. These include some of my most prized possesions and all fall into the Hurts so good catagory. Such as The Stick

I've got the blue one. I love this thing. the key to it is to get deep into the muscles when they are in an unflexed state. It takes a little experimenting to find the right positons to hit things like the hamstrings totally unflexed and to find the piriformis.

The key to it is these rollers that surround a slightly flexible core so you can really bend it and lay it into your muscles. The transition between my quad and IT band is like a square edge so that when I roll the stick over it it will stop until I give it more oomph.

Love it on my quads, hams, and piriformis.

One of my favorite aids is the Theracane.

I can really get to the sweet spots of my upper back with this. I often combine it with this ointment called Bio Freeze. After using both I can definitely feel some relief on my external rotators.

But while using the theracane feels sooooo so good, I havent' found it to truly 'release' my muscles like you hear about. The theory is that stimulating these trigger points of knots helps the muscle release and regain its flexibility.

For the IT band I got one of these foam rollers

This was outside of the hurts so good realm to, omgood help me. It took a few weeks before I could put unsupported weight onto my quad/IT band. Again, with some funky positions I can really get to my piriformis.

I've been working out my external rotators on a regular basis which has helped significantly with being able to keep my elbows out in downhilling. But they get really tender and soar and knotty. The best thing I've found so far for relief has been the elbows of my kids. Once they find the right spot I just have them lay into it with their full weight. But it takes about 5 minutes of wait, wait, just a little higher, no to the left, ahhh not there that is my bone, higher, higher...wait wait right there......

Then the get tired, and cya.

I'd been thinking about this product called the Trigger Point Massage ball for a while.

I've tried tennis balls, and the even the corners of walls to get deep into the muscle. The idea behind this is that the ball simulates the same combination of give firmness seen in a thumb. Where you have a flexible outer and then a firm core. This allows you to get deep into the 'belly' of the muscle to really work it out.

When I first got it I was squeezing it and didn't really see how it did what they say. But when I followed the instructions...Well let's just say I'm a firm believer in it. The instructions say to either use it against a wall or the floor or to press it in using your hand, to wait 5 seconds then take a deep breath and then roll it around a around the trigger point.

The instructional DVD calls this a hurts so good technology. When I first used it, I put it on the floor and laid down on at my rear shoulder. Well, I didn't need to take a deep breath, because I pretty much was gasping like I'd been hit in the solar plexus or had jumped into a freezing lake. It just took my breath away. And rolling it around the trigger point, again. Heavan and hell in one.

But something was different than like when I'd used the theracane. For the first time in memory I could turn my head to the side farther than I ever could. I mean it really did seem to 'release' the muscle. I've used it on my lower back, shoulder, hamstring, soleus, chest, IT quad.

oh man, I went riding over the weekend and didn't bring it. My seat had moved back on the rails over the past few months, and I moved it back to the right spot. This change was very noticeable to my piriformis. And I'd left my ball at home.

I'm telling you, for real, the first thing I did when I got home was get this thing and sit on it

What I'm realizing is that I need to use it almost every day. My muslces just want to revert back to that tight, knotted position. I've had a little bit of rolfing done years ago. One of the theories behind it is that the fascia that is on top of the muscle hardens up over time and maintains poor position. I'd like to go through the whole rolfing procedure sometimes cause I think it did work. This TP ball might be the closest thing.

I want to get this masochistic device made of the same material to replace the foam roller. I've heard that this thing hurts so good/bad that it makes the foam roller seem like a walk in the park.

Anyway, I love this thing

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back on the trainer

We did a family trip up to Upstate NY this Easter. The weather was a little cold and I didn't feel like packing up all my associated gear. It was nice opportunity to actually bring the trainer though and get a little bit of a workout in order to justify the extra holiday food.

I haven't done structured intervals for some time now. I'm trying to follow a full Morris interval program in order to stay sometwhat in shape. A structured plan is helpful when life is so busy that it is too easy to just say forget about it. These intervals can be hard but are very time efficient.

I actually set my power level pretty conservative on these first ones. One reason was to just successfully complete the entire workout, rather than burn out and have to bag the last ones. The first few intervals are always hard and there is a point about 2 weeks in where the supercompensation starts to take affect and I can up the power settings at least 10W.

We'll see how long the plan lasts but at least for the last few days it went well. If the weather is nice, I will probably opt for a lunch ride on some steep hills, either way it'll help to maintain some fitness.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Marion Loop

Hit a sweet loop out of Marion, VA this weekend. I must say that Mapmyride is a great resource to find rides, even around where you live. Though I wish I had a GPS with me to make sure I was on the right road. There are so many route changes and offshoot gravel roads around country roads that sometimes you never know.

If you go to Mapmyride and do a search under Marion, VA you'll see some cool stuff.

This had to be one of the best rides I've done in a long time with a huge variety of terrain. Right out of the door 1/2 hour wheezer climb followed by somewhat scare downhill with bad brakes and gravel on the road. The views are to die for in this part of Virgina. Secluded green valleys and streams. The ride turned onto some other backroads that lead into some really rough landscape, the kind that is only good for running some cattle on.

Part of the ride meandered along a beautiful small river and then lead into another long climb. But this climb had that false flat sort of optical illusion. It looked steeper than it was and you could really get on it if you wanted. This was the kind of road that I'd much rather climb up than go down. No guard rails, narrow and gravelly. It passed by these really steep V notche gullies. In one I saw a bunch of turkey vultures riding the air currents. They were doing these long slow loops back and forth without flapping their wings once.

The only bad part of the ride was when I popped out onto route 11 with a headwind and some traffic. It only lasts a short while before you offshoot again back onto some backroads.

fun stuff, nice to ride something different. Good hill training for sure.