As I gear up for the final push before Zion, there have been five things I’ve been relying on heavily to get me through. Maintenance is extremely important. The oversight of something as small as a sore calf or a tight muscle can turn into a colossal injury that puts you on the couch and your training on hold. Here are my 5 essentials to keeping your mind and body safe and healthy when your pushing your body to the limit.
Fish Oil: If you haven’t already read my Ode to Fish Oil, I recommend doing so asap. I go into extensive detail about the multitude of benefits this magical, youthful elixir provides. Personally, in my mind as far as the essentials of life go, there’s 1. Oxygen 2. H2O, and then there’s fish oil. Drink up!
Hammer’s Tissue Rejuvenator: As I made my REI run before Lean Horse 100, stocking up on Gu’s, gels, Perpetuem, and all other sorts of goodies, I noticed a new product I’d never seen before. Tissue Rejuvenator by Hammer; basically claiming to be an all natural anti-inflammatory and joint lubricator. We all know there a lot of things out there that promise the kitchen sink, so of course, skepticism was imminent. Thanks to the beauty of technology, I pulled up Amazon’s reviews and was very shocked to see almost all 5-star reviews. I mean, I thought for sure there had to be ONE guy who thought this thing would cure cancer and was mad as hell it hadn’t, but no (I have in fact since noticed one review that was 2 stars). I decided to give it a shot being that at the time I had been experiencing slight hip discomfort. They also offer a 100% guarantee or money back; always encouraging. Well, we all know that 100 miler went off without a glitch. I’ve since been taking it, ramping up my dosage during training and can tell you I hands-down notice a difference between weeks I take it and weeks I forget. The main ingredient for this product is glucosamine which is a natural chemical compound found in the body that keeps the cartilage in joints healthy. As we age, our natural levels decline which then adds to deterioration in our joints. Glucosamine is said to help lessen pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and even chronic low back pain. Consider it the Jiffy Lube of joints. Another component is tumeric, which you foodies are probably very familiar with. What we tend to know mainly as an herb is also an antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic agent. This powerful seasoning also provides us the raw materials needed to promote rapid tissue repair, while also helping to reduce inflammation, soreness, and pain. Can you say hell to the yeah? I highly recommend.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation: If you’ve ever been to physical therapy, you’ve hopefully had the pleasure of ending your session with ice and 20 mins of electrical muscle stimulation. For those of you lucky, healthy bastards who haven’t, electric stim creates muscle contraction by using two pads that produce an electric current. Did you ever see the infomercial promising you six-pack abs simply by wearing the “Ab Belt”? Umm yeah. It’s basically zapping your abs, forcing them to contract without you even having to lift a finger. Voila! While I’m sure this probably does strengthen your abs, for your reputation, I highly recommend avoiding this all together. However, for strength training, rehabilitation, and reducing inflammation, this can be extremely helpful. I was able to find one for $25 on Amazon and whether its a sore muscle, swelling in a joint, or anything else I feel needs a boost, this has been an integral part of my maintenance.
Epsom Salt Baths: I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t big on bath time. I mean, sure we have the pics of Linds and I in the bath as kids when it’s cute and all. But then big girls shower, and you want to be a big girl, so you shower. That goes from the age of 7 – 18 and then you go to college. Well considering I wouldn’t even put a bare foot on any of the showers I used in college, bath time was sure as hell out of the question until about 22. 22 – 28 I pretty much forget about the whole bath time thing. And then, my massage therapist Irina would leave me each time saying, “Jen… take an epsom salt bath.” I ok’d her to death the first 5 months and then finally decided… maybe I should listen to her? I went to Ralph’s, bought a bag of Epsom salt (bargain price of $2), went home, put on some jazz, turned on the hot water, dumped in some salt, and jumped in. Wow. This is….. amazing! I never want to get out. I’m never getting out. Ok, I need to get out. But wow. Thank you, Irina, thank you Pandora, and thank you bath time. Oh Epsom salt.. sorry. Right, so this stuff. Did you know that magnesium is actually the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged ion in the body? And sadly, most of us are deficient of this important element. It’s known as “the organizer” of many bodily functions, such as muscle control, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. Magnesium deficiency helps to account for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related illnesses, and chronic fatigue. Thankfully, absorption is a very quick way to get those levels back up there. So, grab some ES, put on some tunes, turn on the hot water, and relax.
Massage: I learned early on, massage was a very essential role in my recovery time. On top of the fact that it just feels good to get rubbed, when you’ve got achy muscles, this feels even better. That is until I started getting treated by massage therapists that actually know what they are doing. And while what I’m about to tell you may scare you, by no means does this mean you should NOT go through with this too. You should. News flash: Massages aren’t fun. Massages hurt. Sometimes I sweat from gripping the table so hard to brace myself for the pain I’m about to feel. It freaking HURTS. But then it feels good. Then I can walk. And now I have bath time afterwards to look forward to. But that hour nap or day dreaming time you were looking forward to while someone loved those achy muscles of yours… it’s gone. There may be times you want to yell stop. But you know you can push through and pushing through will only help you in the long run. So push through you do. You try holding your breath to see if that helps. You clench your abs, grit your teeth.. whatever you have to, to get through. And you do. And it’s amazing. And if you train hard enough the upcoming week, you’ll earn yourself another hour of pain the following week. And so the vicious cycle unfolds. But this is probably the most integral part for injury prevention and optimal training in my opinion. On top of that the promotion of increased joint flexibility, lessened affects of depression and anxiety, improved condition of the skin, and better circulation, need I say more? Call a local pain enforcer near you .
I hope you all find these tips extremely helpful. Happy training!