Sunday, February 24, 2013

Continuing Education

I remember when I gave up ultra-marathon cycling back around 1990. I remember that I had been plagued with lower back pain for the last couple years. I remember realizing that if I were ever to return to ultra-cycling, I would have to learn new disciplines to keep me comfortable and efficient on the bike, exercises that I wouldn't necessarily like doing. Dreaded core work. Dreaded stretching. And so, when I returned to the sport about 4 years ago, I worked on those disciplines, because I knew they would allow me to return to this sport that I loved so much.

Now, a few years later, and with a new challenge of recovering from a total hip replacement, I am realizing the need for these exercises at an even greater level. As I work to regain strength in my legs, I've become aware of how tight these muscles have become during my several weeks of inactivity. In addition, one other component that has plagued many other athletes, but something I personally have never had to contend with before, is the tightness of the iliotibial band, otherwise known as the IT band. The thick, fibrous tissue that connects from the upper leg by the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae muscles, then runs down along the lateral side of the upper leg, and eventually connects to the tibia bone of the lower leg. After some initial encouragement during the early weeks of my rehabilitation, primarily through the strengthening of the gluteus muscles, things began to turn in the other direction. It seemed that at some point, the more I would try to strengthen the muscles around the hip, I would be rewarded with debilitating pain around the hip area and the lateral side of the knee.

What I've been doing to counter act this tightening of the IT band and it's connections to the muscles, is to use various tools to stretch and massage out the knots. Tool like "The Stick" and the "Rumble Roller" can provide the athlete a do-it-yourself deep tissue massage.

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