Drawn and Quartered: Part Deux'es

While I looked high and low for a blog appropriate picture of a person being quartered by a horse (England's Charles I, you were one sick, sick SOB), as you might have guessed there are none. But I did want to return to that imagery today, which I used last Friday in a quick post to update you loyal readers on the horrible, horrible things I did to my body last week. I've recently switched to a schedule with 5 weekday swims and 2 bike/run/swim triples, in an effort to get that pounding race day feel ingrained early. After a day off yesterday, I'm happy to report that this is not as terrible as it sounds, and that I actually think it might help me squeeze a few extra drops of speed out of my pre-thirty year old body while I still can :)

Will (our very insightful coach) was wise enough to point out that this new schedule was "going to hurt a lot Gered" and that I better make sure I did a lot of "self myofacial massage" to ensure my muscles didn't go poo poo on me from one week to the next. Huh? Well, saturday night, after the final exhausting workout of the week, I tried a little of this "self-massage" thing. While self-massage isn't my preferred form of massage, it did do a good job of loosening up some really tightly wound parts of my body.

So what IS self-massage? Well, it ain't just lying around on your living room floor watching TV and rubbing yourself all over. It's a pretty strategic foam roller exercise designed to use direct pressure to loosen up muscle groups that have become all tangled up and shortened. Pretend for a second that your muscles are actually made up of telephone cords all bound tightly together (do those still exist?) - as a telephone cord stretches and contracts, what happens? It gets tangled. Your muscles do this too. And the more they are used the more they tangle.

Massage is designed to push the fibers apart and allow them to return to their elongated position (picture hanging the phone upside down and watching the receiver spin and spin and spin until the chord is one long piece again).  See this picture of Brett for a good visual of what I am talking about

Now, you can't just go rolling all over the darned place on your blue foam roller. It helps to know a little about each muscle you are massaging to understand HOW to best release the tension within it. Unfortunately, I have an MA in political science, not biomechanics, so really had no clue how to do this. Here's where coaches come in super handy again (thanks Will). Follow along this handy pdf and read the notes along with each photo to get an idea of which way and how to work the roller over your various muscle groups.


So, there's a happy ending to this story (did you really think I was going to make it all the way through a post on self-massage without mentioning one!?!). I feel great. And week two of pain camp isn't looking so bad anymore. Try it. I think you'll be happy with the results. The end.