Not enough recovery time. That’s an ongoing theme.
For most of us, training for a Tri ( or a marathon, or an epic ride) is sandwiched somewhere between work, kids, laundry, cooking. . . and maybe some sleep in there somewhere. It’s no wonder we get injured or don’t hit those PR’s.
As a pharmacist, I generally want scientific studies before I go tossing my money out there. The world of sports is full of great products. It’s also full of a bunch of BS from people trying to make a buck. The market is full of everything from recovery drinks to supplements and vitamins (oh, heck, don’t even get me started on why vitamins are a waste of money for most people)- you can go broke getting all the stuff to supposedly make you faster, stronger, better. Some of it works. Some.
Compression gear is also rampant. From bright pink to gaudy green, compression socks have made royalty status among athletes. And while the science behind using them in patients with lower leg edema or the risk of certain kinds of clots from poor circulation is real, the use in sports is a little more suspect. The studies out there seem to be conflicted for a number of reasons. Do I use them? After runs, after long bike rides, yes. Do I think I get anything out of them? Hard to tell. But for $20-40, it didn’t break my bank to give them a try.
WHY would I ever spend $1,300 Normatec compression boots?
Enter TJ- the best physical therapist in the history of ever (see my post on how I managed to complete an Ironman with a majorly messed up body). Enter Norma Tec compression boots. Enter a high level high school and nationally competitive athlete (no, not me).
I watched dubiously as my son was zipped into NormaTecs for the first time. His legs had been aching from exhaustive workouts. The machine puffed up and did some fancy compressing up and down his legs. I wasn’t all that impressed, actually. But 30 minutes later, my son emerged all smiles. The entire ride home he raved about how much better his legs felt. Skeptically, several members of my family used the boots and then loved the results. But making appointments and getting to the therapist to use them? Not so easy.
Enter Ironman Arizona 2016 and the NormaTec exhibit booth selling demo boots at a discounted rate.
Oh, yeah. I bought a pair for the family for Christmas 2016.
And while the scientific journals may be out there debating the benefits of compression in age group athletes, I can personally tell you I spent countless hours in them training for Ironman Arizona 2017. After 100-mile bike rides, my legs would be exhausted. A 45-minutes NormaTec session put me back into the game for the next day’s run. Or swim. My legs were still somewhat tired, but not the deep exhaustion I had been feeling before. Not the aching tired of someone who has pushed beyond their limits. Not the burning muscle soreness I’m used to.
Expensive? Well, it depends. As triathletes, we seem to throw away lots of money on nutrition products, fancy bikes, new helmets. But the recovery systems? Not so much. We often overlook recovery. But focusing on recovery can be such a game changer. (For more information on recovery, check out this article. )
I personally think my NormaTec was a worthwhile investment for myself and my training. My entire family has been using them this year, including runners, triathletes, and a football player. The only time I was unhappy this year was when the compression program glitched and we had to send the unit back to be fixed. It was a long ride week for me. And man, I missed my boots. My legs were so much more sore. The folks at NormaTec were awesome, got them fixed, and shipped back.
Where can you give them a try before you plunk down a hunk of cash? Check them out at exhibitor booths at races.(Find out where they will have an expo booth here). Check your local physical therapy places, also. Many near us offer NormaTec sessions, even if you are not one of their patients. Around us, a session runs about $10-20 a session. Some places are offering monthly all-you-can-use access for a single fee.
Give ’em a try. I’ll bet by next year, they’re on your list for Santa.