Friday, November 14, 2008

Put Those Legs UP!!!

" Put those legs up!" That's one of my greatest pieces of advice for all athletes. Your arteries carry your blood away from your heart and your veins pump the blood back up to your heart, against gravity." Draining your legs " by placing them higher than your heart after you train hard is a technique used to increase recovery rate by serious sportsmen. This will enhance the venous return of your blood to your heart which is a muscle too! In the world of professional cycling where I worked in Europe," the cream-of-the-crop" put their legs up on the wall daily, in their hotel rooms while resting on their beds after each day's stage. I am talking about a very small percentage of the 1000 ranked professionals in the world. Of that 1000, only 220 race the Tour de France each July, and of that 220, only about 11% regularly drain their legs. Those are usually the boys who you see up on the podium at the Champs-Élysées in Paris!! Now what does that tell you?! Working as a Soigneur for years has taught me priceless things that I could talk about for a lifetime. Bike racers are supposed to train/race/recover.....that's it, pedal! Anything else would make their legs bloat. It is common to see the boys shuffling their feet in their cycling sandals 'post-race' in the hotels and even 'stalling' while climbing the stairwells to their rooms after talking to the mechanics about what gears they want on their bikes for the next day's stage. Their legs are 'stalling' because they are climbing stairs and not mountains! They are used to pedaling, not stair climbing, or shopping in malls or being on their feet at a concert for three hours. They are used to being in a hard saddle pedaling in the Pyrennes or in the Alpes for 4-7 hours. The most elite cyclists in the world DRAIN THEIR LEGS so they can PUMP THEIR PISTON LEGS like animals day in and day out!!! This gets rid of that bloaty, lymph accumulation. They can do 'other ' activities after the season......a little bit! But I'm tellin' ya, the legs up thang.......You can do it after a race, a training ride, while you are watching TV, or on the phone. You can do it after you shopped til you dropped, or after you travelled and have swollen 'jet-legs'. You can do it with your legs up on your wall or up on pillows on your couch. Put 'em up on the table, on the dashboard, on someone's lap! Just PUT THOSE GAMS UP, MAN!!! You,ll never stop once you start......and shake those quads with your hands while their up there. Shake the meat on that bone!! Your legs will feel fresher and so will you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The "Pro Soak": Recovery Bath Therapy

Have you ever wondered why you feel better after you swim in the ocean, take a dip in a high altitude glacial lake, or relax in a hot thermal spring? They all have something in common: high mineral content. When we go to the beach we always feel better because we're taking time to relax and enjoy ourselves. The other reason why we feel good after we get out of the water is because the ocean drew the soreness out of our body and the sunshine "assuming we didn't stay out too long" increased our vitamin-D stores and our feel-good neurotransmitters. Taking a bath in Epsom Salts can do the same thing.

I worked in Europe on the Men's Cycling Pro Tour for many years. In races like the Tour de France I would help my riders increase their recovery rate by soaking "the soreness out of their legs" with products like Magnesium Sulfate, commonly known as Epsom Salts. There is a reverse osmotic effect taking place where the concentration of salt in the tub is greater than the deposits causing soreness in your muscles. As you soak, these deposits are being drawn toward the water, and on their way hit your blood stream and are metabolized. In a warmer bath this happens faster by increasing the circulatory effect.

The Pro Soak is a benefit, not only to a professional athlete trying to recover, but also to someone that has taken a hike or an exercise class. If you are coming down with a cold or are already sick, soaking in Epsom Salts will help you feel better faster! It draws things out! Yeaahhh Baby!!!!! I have listed instructions and a very important list of Do's and Don'ts below:

Instructions for Pro Soak:
  1. Seven "running" handfuls Epsom Salts into regular sized tub. ("running" means countinuously pouring salts while emptying each handful
  2. If your tub is oversized add 2-3 more "running" handfuls
  3. You may add bubble bath or foaming soap to your salts or 5 drops of an essential oil like lavender.
  4. Soak in bath for 10 minutes minimum - 20 minutes maximum. More is not better!
  5. After 20 minutes, rinse salt off

Pro Soak Do's:
  1. Do imagine your body healing as the salts draw you toward wellness & peak performance
  2. Do add warmer water to your bath as needed
  3. Do create a relaxing environment for your bath by lighting candles or playing music
  4. Do allow your body to return to normal temperature before applying any lotions, creams, oils, or deodorants. Your pores are open and must close naturally.
  5. Do put your legs up

Pro Soak Don'ts:
  1. Don't shave before or after your soak.
  2. Don't scrub or exfolliate before or after your soak
  3. Don't apply lotions, creams, oils, or deodorants after your soak. Your body temperature has been elevated; allow it to return to normal and your pores to close naturally.