Making Time for Injury Prevention

By: Elise Crane

As Andy wrote last week, finding the time to train can be tough when you’re juggling a full-time job, family, friends, and other things that eat up those 24 hours.  So when you think about adding in yet another thing—say, injury prevention work—it can feel overwhelming.

But after a visit this weekend to DC’s own Rose Physical Therapy Group, I’m determined to make injury prevention a priority.  Think of it as a savings plan for your body, but instead of putting dollars aside to build up a cushion for tough times, do those hip stability exercises and you’ll be way less prone to knee injuries down the road.  And you know what they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Clare Bowe walked our YTri team through some easy exercises with basic equipment and now I’m a fan!

Here are some basic supplies you might want to have on hand, along with some exercises you might want to try out:

1)   Foam roller.  This is key to loosening up your connective tissue (fascia) everywhere from your IT band (check out some exercises here) to your upper back and your oft-neglected adductors (check out this video).  There are tons of varieties and price-points for rollers; I’ve been happy with this basic model for under $15.  Just google “foam rolling” for thousands of videos of exercises and techniques.

2)   Peanuts.  These dense silicone balls surround your spine and vertebrae and help open up your thoracic spine.   You can make your own by putting two lacrosse balls in a sock, or you can buy a pair for about $10 (I just bought these).  Here’s a video of a basic thoracic spine release exercise.  It can be a bit uncomfortable at first but really opens up your upper back, which does wonders to counteract the tension built up by hunching over a bike or a computer.  You can also roll your calves and foot arches with peanuts.

3)   Resistance bands.  I use these while doing clamshells to improve my hip stability.  Feel the burn!  Again, there are tons of resistance bands on the market and you can get a variety of sizes and resistance for under $10.

4)   Ice pack.  This is great for recovery after those long training sessions, particularly if a specific muscle or tendon is flaring up.  Andy recently started icing his Achilles post-runs and combined with stretching and other injury prevention principles, already has him feeling better.  So put your feet up and ice 'em while you enjoy some well-deserved rest.

Another major caveat:  of course it’s always better to go to a physical therapist in person for a customized assessment.  Rose, for example, offers running assessments and a host of other services perfect for the triathlete or weekend warrior.  But don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good!  Invest in a couple pieces of key equipment and figure out what works best for you.  And join me as I commit to squeezing in at least 15-20 minutes of injury prevention exercises 3-4 times a week.  Saving today for a cushion tomorrow!

Disclaimer:  I am not a physical therapist and I’m offering these tips based solely on my own experience.  The links in this post are just some resources I’ve found in my own quest to prioritize injury prevention and I hope they might helpful for some of you.

Andrew Riedy