Monday, November 3, 2008

My body is a pretzel.

So over the last couple months I've noticed that my left hip has gotten tighter and tighter and the area middle to the lower part of my back on the right side has gotten tighter. It's gotten to the point it's caused some back pain and strangeness. Massage has helped, but with my racing schedule and with trying to get some workouts in, I just haven't been able to get but like one massage per month.

But what I've finally started to notice is what I think is the cause, and it's driving. Both competitive and on the road. The way I sit so that I have maximum foot control combined with all the "work" my right leg gets doing gas and brake seems to be aiding this "condition." In the race car, the brake pedal requires a good bit of force, but it must also be VERY controlled force. The clutch pedal, on the other hand, just requires occasional quick hits and little "control." Combine all that with the fact that I've done a LOT of driving in the last three months or so (both competitive and street) and we have a problem.

In racing circles, I do what is called "right foot braking" only. If you're going to downshift while braking, you have to use your right foot on the brake. But many racers also use "left foot braking" when they aren't downshifting, and that is exactly what it sounds like...using your left foot only to brake. I think it's time I started using left foot braking on the street everywhere I can to see if that helps this condition. Of course, I'm also stretching a lot more, doing hot-cold tub therapy, pool workouts, and won't be in a race car much for the next few months. We'll see how all that plays out.

What is "hot-cold tub therapy", you might ask? Well, that's the practice of spending two minutes in a hot tub (around 100F, maybe a bit more) and going immediately into a cold tub (about 45F) for one minute. Repeat three times (though it's okay to add one more hot tub trip at the end to warm back up). What does that do? The heat causes blood vessels and such to dilate (expand) and the cold causes everything to contract. So you get a pumping effect that helps free up and flush out the inflammation (and contaminants that cause it). It's a terribly annoying thing to do, but seems to work and work well. Tiny booties for your toes help, though I've found the biggest problem is an inability to breathe well in 45F water.


Em said...

that stinks. good luck w the therapy. runners sit in tubs of ice after marathons and say wearing a coat helps w the chill.

Donnie Barnes said...

Well, it's annoying, certainly. It's not keeping me from doing much (other than I'm doing pool workouts instead of weightlifting, but it's actually kind of fun and I'm learning stuff I can do on my own once our pool is done) that I wouldn't be doing otherwise, but I wanted to blog about it since I have a lot of racing friends who may now (or later) be suffering from the same thing (who knows?).

But I am now trying to find my own cold tub I can put in by the hot tub in the pool.

Lady Holiday said...

I know you won't try it, but I've found that the best thing for muscle pain and strain is horse liniment--the kind they sell at the feed'n'seed store. Don't laugh! It has changed my life.

Jane Elizabeth said...

You know what I'm going to say, and I'm serious-pilates. Helps strengthen the muscles that stabilize your core and pelvis to even it all out. I even know of a good class!

Lis said...

Donnie Barnes, don't ever say tiny booties on your blog ever again!