I used to think getting injured was only for the weak or the stupid, who had no idea how to train or take care of the little things necessary to remain healthy. Then, over the past year I’ve been sidelined by a series of injuries and laughed at myself and my views on injuries (when I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself). I’ve been both stupid and weak, which in part has led to my injury issues. But, I think more than anything I’ve learned injuries do happen when you are pushing your body to the absolute limit day in and day out. Some athletes are lucky to never get injured, and I truly believe now in most cases staying healthy does involve a great deal of luck. But, dealing with the injuries, giving them the time to heal, and properly rehabbing is something that is very important, and also something I’ve had very little experience with doing in the past.
As I claw my way back to full fitness I thought I’d share the details of some of the great tools I’ve had the opportunity to use to aid my injury rehab and return to training.
The first thing on my list is a Bone Stim machine. Thanks to Smith & Nephew I’ve been using this little guy to help speed bone growth. The scientific literature supports the use of this machine for speeding bone growth after full fractures. There is no evidence to support its use for the healing of stress fractures. But, after talking it over with my doctor we realized there was no real harm in giving it a shot. Has it worked? I’m not really sure, we’d need a series of frequent X-rays or bone scans to determine that, and we decided not to go down that road. But, I’d like to think it’s helped me get back running pain free more quickly. I’ve also been doing some “heavy” lower leg weights to help stimulate bone growth. I had to put the word “heavy” in quotations because when I started I was barely doing more than 80 year old men for whom lifting weights to stimulate bone growth is usually prescribed!
The second thing I’ve been using, from time-to-time is the Hydroworx underwater treadmill. I’ve used this both at Hydrathletics in Kingston, ON and at Fortius Sport Centre in Vancouver. This is a pretty cool machine, and I feel very luckily to have access to one when I’m in both Kingston and Vancouver. I’ve used the underwater treadmill at many stages of my rehab. Certainly it takes some getting used to, but once I became comfortable I was able to get in some great workouts. I think there is a lot of benefit to having a rehab and cross-training modality that allows you to have contact with the ground and simulate close to your regular running form. The machine at the Fortius Centre is also cool because the entire platform lowers you into the water to a prescribed depth and then raises the entire platform out of the water; I sort of felt like a rock star being raised onto the stage at a Superbowl half-time show (my coach suggested Janet Jackson?!? Not sure what similarities I share with her!?! I was thinking more JT!)
The third ‘gadget’ that I feel has helped me as I transition from doing the bulk of my aerobic volume as cross-training to real running is the AlterG Anti-gravity treadmill. Thanks to Kinemedics I’ve been lucky to have access to an AlterG at Sante Universelle in Gatineau, QC. This tool has allowed me to start running at some faster paces (up to 12mph) at anywhere from 20-100% of my body weight. Currently I am using it twice per week for “workouts”. This will hopefully allow for a smooth transition to higher intensity running outside, with my full 155lb frame slamming into the ground. In addition to allowing me to run at reduced body-weight, going to Gatineau to use this machine has allowed me to work on my terrible comprehension of the french language. The only draw back to the AlterG is that being in a pair of neoprene shorts with lots of ‘interesting’ seams in them and having air pushed against you from below (to reduce your body weight) at times it can feel like getting a terrible wedgie (flashbacks to being tortured by older kids in elementary school included).
Check out this video of Nate Jenkins attempting a sub 4:00 mile on the AlterG. Don’t tell my coach, but I think that’s the next workout I am going to attempt.
So, there you go, a glimpse at some of the unorthodox, although more and more common place, tools that I’ve had access to on my road back to full health and fitness. Only time will tell if they really help or just cause those horrible flashbacks!
I promise I’ll stop going on about my injuries. I know people hate to read those athlete blogs that are sob stories about their injury woes. I’ve tried to avoid that (mostly by not writing anything at all), but I’ll try to move beyond the injury thing for future posts!
And thanks for reading!