This year I was able to be, again, involved in the Dublin Ironman event. The Dublin Ironman is a half Ironman and the route normally involved entering the Irish sea for the swim at DunLaoghaire. After a 1.9 km swim participants will transition over to the bike section which involves a 90 km cycle up the Wicklow mountains. The last section is a 21.1 km run back towards and around DunLaoghaire finishing close to the starting point of the race. If this is a half Ironman you can imagine how physically exhausting and mentally challenging full events are as well as something as, to be frank crazy as the Kona Ironman race in Hawaii, which is a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km cycle and 42.2 km run in searing heat and hostile terrain.
Those in the event range from professionals, seasoned veterans, triathlon club members, endurance sport activists and then some of the most normal people who decided this was to be their new obsession for the coming year. Prior to race day I spent the 2 days beforehand dealing with various cases and individuals with issues ranging from simple checks on niggles, strapping, soft tissue work and full on consultations and real down to the wire decisions regarding if a certain person could compete in the race. The two days beforehand were long and tiring but being able to prepare so many people for such an event felt great.
On the race day myself and seven other therapists set ourselves up well before the end of the race was even in site. our first patient of the day had injured themselves in the water which was incredibly choppy on the day. The slow and steady stream of people who had injured themselves during the race and those professionals who had finished the race in an inhuman time suddenly became droves of being being accessed, looking for soft tissue work and even a few being stretch out because the could no longer do it themselves as a result of exhaustion. From 8:00 am in he morning until nearly 5:30 pm we provided care to a large number of the participants.
The Ironman event is such an endurance event that even the therapists are exhausted after it all. The event makes you feel like you can really do any kind of event. For all the people who loved and hated the training process you were hard pressed to find a single participant who wasn’t happy that they choose to compete, maybe only a few disgruntled partners and family members not as enthralled in the sport having to wait an entire day for the event. Yet the comradery expressed in the event and the dedication needed and shown by so many people, you can only appreciate and admire all those who decided to undertake the event.
This was my second year involved with the Ironman, in different roles between both roles and I definitely hope to involved again in the future especially with events such as the first full Ironman event being held in Cork in 2019 and the Hell of the West triathlon which I have been persuaded to train and enter next year.
What exactly is foam rolling and why does everyone talk about it and also treat it like a way to fix every kind of muscular pain /problem in the body. Well foam rolling is normally the use of a hard cylinder shaped object placed against a fixed point that a person will apply there body weight to it and cause it to move. The fixed shape and weight applied causes the soft tissue directly underneath to experience increased pressure directly at the point of contact acting as a form of self myofascial release. Self myoyfascial release can be done using a classic foam roller, lacrosse ball, theracane, muscle roller sticks or even something like a yoga block. Self myofascial therapy has gone from something only done by people who compete in sports and endurance activities to something many people have introduced to their everyday routines, like stretching.
The goal of self myofascial therapy and in turn foam rolling is to return muscle and soft tissue to its original elastic state. People aim to apply these pressures so that tissues that feel sore, stiff or shortened return to a more normal state and sensation. When creating this motion many people experience pain or referred pain with many stating knots in the muscle. There a re no such thing as knots in muscles but areas of tenderness or trigger points as a result of tissue having to produce a function it is not fully developed for or under great stress can cause this pain or the referred pain may be experienced.
(Repost Discoveries Soccer club)
The force applied by the weight of your body upon the object can allow for tissue to produce a reactionary force often causing a release of the tension built in muscular tissue. This often alleviates the pain which s a symptom normally allowing for the cause of the pain to be better identified and solved. When the pain or reduction in functionality of the tissue is not that bad self myofascial release in the form of foam rolling can be used as an effective method of maintenance and preparation for activity.
Caution should be taken when using such methods though as it is best used into areas with large or deep surrounding muscular tissue such as the lower or Lumber spine or the neck. Areas that only have a scant amount of soft tissue can be aided by these methods but as many people often find it difficult to judge the force they are applying by the use of their body weight it can also cause bruising or low grade strains into sensitive areas.
Foam rolling is best used in conjunction with other injury prevention and maintenance methods such as stretching and warm up/ coll down protocols as well as prehab exercises put in place to strengthen often problem areas while reducing the sensation of pain into areas often plagued with pain as a result of their nature of being the bodies natural force absorbers. To keep our tissues in as good a condition as possible while maintaining a high quality of activity is one of the most important benefits foam rolling can have for many people. reducing pain and allowing people to experience relief from tightness and stress allowing for a greater quantity and quality of movement and as such performance.
Some of the best techniques for foam rolling are the most basic the roll out areas such as the T-Spine and calfs but also areas such as the base of the neck and lower Trapezius between the scapula. using a lighter force in more specific areas can be more beneficial than trying to apply as much pressure as possible as many people foam roll regularly but don’t benefit greatly from it due to poor technique.
Your T-Spine or Thoracic spine is the largest section of our spines. It is where our ribs and spine are interconnect as well as where nearly all trunk movement pivots upon. It connects our upper and lower extremities and is a passage way for forces that go through our bodies as well as protecting the contents of the thoracic cavity.
Our T-Spines are not very mobile as they are not suppose to be, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to stand upright and the contents between or ribs and T-Spine wouldn’t be protected. At the same time movement in relation to the limbs and joints attached to the T-Spine while it moves laterally, anteriorly and expands aids to force dispersal from the upper extremities of our bodies and the transferal of forces into our lower extremities.
The movements shown in the video (by Squat University) above can help with T-Spine mobility and stability which often is neglected with the other sections of the spine being concentrated on. Spine mobility as a whole are often neglected but as can be seen in the video it is very important even in something such as olympic lifts.
T-Spine mobility is a key to helping with many other functional strengths in our bodies. It can aid in shoulder functionality and chest mobility, lumbar strength and hip mobility. Often something overlooked it can at times help with the full functionality of many other and integral parts to our bodies.