TIME TO HIT THE GYM?

STRENGTH AND CON­DI­TION­ING

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY LOREEN PINDERA

IWAS EX­CITED TO par­tic­i­pate in the first edi­tion of the Mon­treal ITU World Cup last Au­gust. No mat­ter that the race came just a week af­ter the Que­bec long-dis­tance pro­vin­cial championship in Ma­gog – a chal­leng­ing, hilly course that left my legs feel­ing like rub­ber for days.

The Mon­treal In­ter­na­tional Triathlon, at the city’s Old Port, fea­tured some short, steep climbs on the bike cir­cuit, but the run course was flat. Piece of cake af­ter Ma­gog, I fig­ured.

I started out fast on that run, fig­ur­ing my time on the level course was sure to be my sea­sonal PB. Then, not even at the half­way mark, I felt a strange twinge in my left hip. I ig­nored it for a few hun­dred me­tres. I felt a pop and I heard what sounded like a small ex­plo­sion on the out­side of my hip joint.

The pain took my breath away, knocked me to my knees. I got up, took a few steps, stopped and stretched. I tried walk­ing it out. Some­how, I limped/jogged the last 6 km, hob­bled over the fin­ish line and made a bee­line for the mas­sage tent. By then the hip was in­flamed and when the ath­letic ther­a­pist touched it, I winced.

Ice, rest and four days later my doc­tor at the Mcgill Sports Medicine Clinic, Fany Fal­len­baum, con­firmed the ther­a­pist’s di­ag­no­sis: acute hip bur­si­tis. The way she de­scribed it, in lay­man’s terms: “That pop you heard was your IT band snap­ping over the hip joint. The bursa sac that pro­tects the out­side of that joint swelled up like a bal­loon.”

She reck­oned that pow­er­ing my way up those short, steep climbs on the bike course had not helped my al­ready tight hip flex­ors and tired quads and ham­strings.

Af­ter a cou­ple of phys­io­ther­apy ses­sions and some time off run­ning, I was pain-free within weeks. How­ever, the whole episode – my first triathlon in­jury since I som­er­saulted my bike in a mo­ment of inat­ten­tion years ago – was a wake-up call.

At 57, I can no longer as­sume I can pile up the train­ing miles quickly the way I had over a few weeks in July, and I can’t not take the time to re­cover be­tween races.

And, per­haps more im­por­tantly, I can’t fool my­self into be­liev­ing I’m fit and race-ready with­out in­cor­po­rat­ing strength and con­di­tion­ing into my regime.

Ig­nor­ing the gym makes me a typ­i­cal triath­lete, says Ja­son Boivin – a swim coach and a strength and con­di­tion­ing spe­cial­ist with Mcgill Univer­sity’s var­sity swim team as well as with the univer­sity’s triathlon club.

“Es­pe­cially in triathlon, so many peo­ple get in­jured all the time,” said Boivin. “Peo­ple get in­jured, and they don’t necessarily know how to fix it. They stop train­ing, and they get bet­ter. They start train­ing again, and the in­jury comes back.”

In other words, what­ever im­bal­ance caused that in­jury in the first place is still there.

“So you have to ad­dress it through strength and con­di­tion­ing,” said Boivin.

With his own athletes he does what he calls a “move­ment screen­ing,” look­ing for poor form and mus­cu­lar weak­nesses, and then pre­scrib­ing ex­er­cises to cor­rect the im­bal­ance.

If some­one comes to him with knee pain from run­ning, for in­stance, he’ll of­ten con­clude it’s caused by poor glute ac­ti­va­tion – in other words, a weak butt.

“We do ex­er­cises that help to get the glutes fir­ing, help stretch the IT band. Sud­denly, no knee pain.”

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