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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jun 24 2019 08:09AM

Sports massage therapist Tessa Glover interviews one of her traithlete client from WNT's partner Windrush triathlon club, Alicja Furmanczyk, about her training and motivaion



Why did you choose triathlon? Why not just swimming, cycling or running?


Triathlon was just something different to what I had done before, and an opportunity to do all three sports at once. I still do ‘one sport only’ events but with triathlon I find I’m under less pressure to match the pace of competitors around me - apart from the swim everyone starts at different times and goes about at a different pace.


Which sport do you find the most challenging and why?


It’s by far swimming. I’m a runner first and foremost, I love cycling but as much as I love swimming I’m just not a good swimmer, no matter how hard I try to improve my technique. I’m probably not patient enough. With swimming you always need to plan what time to go to the pool to get the most of your swim - it’s not as flexible as running or cycling which I can do anytime.


I know you work full time so how many hours training do you do a week for each sport?


It varies. Currently I’m training more than I have ever done. It’s typically up to 15 hours a week, occasionally a bit more if I do a very long cycle, a bit less when I’m having an easy tapering week. I also count my Pilates or strength & conditioning exercise into my training schedule. It all takes time after all.


How do you find the motivation to get up and go for a 7am swim in cold water instead of staying in bed with a cup of tea?


It’s definitely easier to train in the summer when it’s bright in the morning, and I wake up naturally at about 6am anyway... but I don’t always train in the morning and have days off when I have a ‘lie in’ - get up at 7.30am! With my job I often finish late, so mornings are more practical: it’s done and I’m set for the day. Motivation wise, I thrive on accomplishing goals so I think that’s part of it too - mentally I just tick off something on my to do list. And there are the endorphins afterwards. No matter how hard it is to start, when I finish I’m just full of positive energy!


Does belonging to a triathlon club push you to enter more challenging competitions than you would probably do left to your own devices?


Definitely. I don’t think I would have signed up for a full Ironman race if I hadn’t done the middle distance (equivalent to half Ironman) with Windrush last year. I wouldn’t have signed up for the middle distance if I hadn’t been encouraged by the club. So it’s all a chain reaction!


Are you competitive?


I’d love to say no but I know I am... but not in a bad way! It’s mostly about being competitive with myself and accomplishing my own goals rather than goals set up by someone else. I don’t think I would ever take up triathlon or any other sport competitively though (assuming I was very good at it!) - I would immediately lose interest and the joy of running, cycling and swimming, and that’s very important to me.


You mentioned that you are entering your first Iron Man triathlon this summer, how did you come to make that decision?


I did my first ever half middle distance last summer and when I finished I felt I still had some energy left... so I thought I should sign up for an even longer race... I also wanted to do something that will push me out of my comfort zone and be the ultimate event I would ever aspire to, which I believe Ironman to be!


What impact does this amount of training have on your mental state and social life?


A tricky one. Training overall makes me happy but with all honestly, at times, the amount of training and the fact I have to stick to a plan can be taxing. I do make sure I have proper rest. I do struggle sometimes with maneuvering my need to train (and rest & recovery time) with ‘normal life’ but also with some deeply ingrained societal expectations of what I should be really doing and focusing on (whether it’s my parents asking about grandchildren that they do not have or my friends questioning why I don’t want to go out as much). But I also keep trying to find ways of incorporating my friends into my training life, e.g. when going for a long run or cycle and visiting them afterwards, eating their food!


How do you look after your body to make sure you are in peak condition and injury free?


I never sacrifice a good night’s sleep. I also try to listen to my body, even if that means missing out on a training session... if my body tells me I need rest, then that’s what I do. I would definitely prioritise being injury free over my race performance. I am terrified of getting injured so I do a lot of ‘pre-hab’: strength and conditioning exercises, stretching, Pilates and I use foam roller and a massage ball on a regular basis. In fact, I go as far as to bring the ball to work sometimes (time is precious!). I also try to have a sport massage once a month and time it well before or after my races. Fingers crossed I’m doing the right things!


How much has sports massage helped you during your training as a triathlete?


A lot. A couple of years ago I had an injury whilst training for a marathon, and I strongly believe that part of the problem was that I didn’t have a sports massage on a regular basis, no trusted professional to tell me about my muscle imbalances and weaknesses, and how to work on those. I now treat sport massage as part of my routine and a treat too!


Bonus question:

What is the most common question that you are asked about triathlon? Have I asked it?


Yes! Why do I do it to myself






By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 20 2019 10:00AM

Sports massage therapist and budding swim-star Tessa Glover shares the next stage in her journey towards the Windrush Aquathon in June.


Last week I was fortunate enough continue my swimming training for the Windrush Aquathlon at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. Wow, what a place! Of course my (now fellow) Windrushers have been training there for a number of years and know what a wonderful experience it is but I had never been on an activity holiday before let alone to an entire sports complex like this. There were so many sports and classes to choose from and I went with tennis, boxing, golf, squash, TRX, various body workouts and swimming.


As swimming is my main focus, I took a 1-2-1 lesson and participated in the beginners front crawl session. Both were incredibly helpful and covered breathing, kicking, body position, arm position (all in 25 minutes). Phew… but it was made much easier by carrying out the drills in 25 metres instead of the full 50 metres as it wasn’t so daunting. There was also the major plus of being gloriously HEATED in all three Olympic sized pools!


So every day I headed to the pool and carried out the DRILLS that I have been working on.


1. Sink downs to help fully empty the lungs before taking a new breath.


https://www.triathlete.com/2014/12/training/try-it-sink-downs_67701


2. Popeye breathing (with half of the face still in the water, suck in air from the side of the mouth). So that you don’t turn your head and neck too far out of the water.


3. Catch-up arms to help you work on “long and straight” body alignment, from the tip of the outstretched, extended arm down through your shoulder and side all the way to your feet. This drill can also help with breath timing and assisting in learning how to delay starting the pulling until the body is in a good position.


4. Using a float held with both hands, face in the water to concentrate on leg kicks. Relaxed feet with big toes brushing each other, knees soft and working from the glutes to kick. Making sure your feet break the surface of the water and you feel the water on the dorsal and plantar sides of your feet.


5. Arm position. With a pull buoy, concentrating on keeping your arms wide as you take your strokes so that your hands don’t cross in front of your head. Tips of the fingers enter the water first, elbow slightly raised and bent. Imaging you are zipping up the side of your body with your thumb as you return your arm under and out of the water for the next stroke.


6. Body rotation. As you reach for each stroke, rotate the body as if head, neck and back are all on a pole and turn as one. Windrush coach Audrey Livingstone suggests imagining you are rotating in time to a waltz. It really does work!


Asking a friend to film you swimming is so helpful as you can analyse your stroke and then work on the areas you need to improve on. Here’s my latest attempt. I’m aware there’s a lot more to work to do as I’m still finding the breathing difficult and am out of breath after 16 strokes. BUT that’s double what I could do before so I’m staying positive. Any hints and tips are always appreciated.


Watch Tessa's video on her front crawl progress





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 18 2018 08:00AM

Sports massage specialist - and dance - Lauren O' Sullivan considers how injuries can become more entrenched without listening to them at first, sharing a personal experience for you to avoid!


Injuries. Nobody wants them but almost everybody gets one. At some point in our lives we will injure ourselves. No matter how small that injury may be it can affect our everyday lives and prevent us from being the active and busy people we are. Things we take for granted, like running for the bus or walking uphill, can suddenly prove impossible and our injury becomes annoyingly inconvenient. Put on top of that a love for the gym, sport, or any highly physical career and it can put a big part of our life on hold.


So what do we do about it? Well, I can certainly give you a personal account of what not to do! I have been suffering with high hamstring tendinopathy since November last year. This means that I have damaged the hamstring tendon that originates from the ischial tuberosity (the ‘sit bones’); basically it’s a pain in the butt. I was working as a dancer in rehearsals for a very demanding show and the pain came on gradually. At first I just thought that my hamstring was tight from previous days’ rehearsals, but it soon became clear that the pain was concentrated at the top of my hamstring at the attachment point. The pain became more concentrated and my range of movement started to decline. I knew something was up.


Off I went to the physio and he told me it was most likely hamstring tendinopathy. The best treatment? REST. The one thing I couldn’t do as we were about to open the show. From then on it would be performing every day, most of the time twice a day, meaning repetitive movements and the worst of all: high kicks. I wanted to keep performing, or to put it another way, I needed to keep my job! The physio gave me some shock wave therapy, taped me up and said to sit on an ice pack whenever I had a break in the dressing room. Does that sound like the way to a speedy recovery? I can tell you that it wasn’t. Here we are in July and although my range of motion is slowly creeping back (thanks to my wonderful Osteopath), I am still suffering with the injury and its associated pain. As I sit here now writing this I can already feel pain around my right sit bone.


I hope that most of you reading this don’t have a dance career or other elite sport that restricts you in your recovery from any injuries. If that is the case then you have no excuse but to REST any acute injuries. I truly believe that rest is the most important thing at the very start of recovery. Most likely the injured area will become inflamed and red and you must let your body do this. It is its way of protecting the area and ensuring that blood flow is maximal to kick start the healing process. Let it happen. Anti-inflammatory drugs will inhibit this and while on the outside it may look better, the pain lessens, and you are able to go on with your day, it is not actually helping the problem. After about 3 days of TOTAL REST you may venture outside of your hermit-like existence and seek professional advice from either a doctor, physiotherapist, osteopath or someone similar. I know I may seem like a bit of a hypocrite, but I am so aware of proper healing because of the fact that I am dealing with a chronic injury. All injuries are different and need different things, but the one thing they have in common is benefitting from rest. It certainly doesn’t do any harm.


Perhaps the most irritating thing when you are an active person with an injury is the feeling that all your hard fitness work is just going to reverse itself. It doesn’t have to. Depending on what the injury is you can still train other parts of your body in isolation or take up a less impactful method of exercise. My favourites when injured are swimming, Pilates and yoga. Swimming is so great for injuries involving the foot, ankle or lower leg because there is no weight bearing involved. Pilates is always good to incorporate in your training regime no matter what, because a deep core strength will support your body in everything you do and help with proper alignment. I would say that Pilates is actually great for injury prevention! The last one, yoga, I still couldn’t do for a while into my recovery. With tendon injuries it can be difficult because they shouldn’t be stretched or strained, and yoga is all about flexibility. However, for injuries in the belly of a muscle, most physiotherapists will advise a stretching programme and yoga will do wonders to complement this.


Ultimately it is about listening to your body. If something hurts, don’t do it! Some people talk about good pain and bad pain…for example if you are stretching a muscle it can be painful but not in a harmful way. Most people can recognise when the pain becomes too much or ‘bad’, indicating that they have gone too far. On the flip side of that, we often cannot stretch certain muscles enough by ourselves. I would suggest seeing a sports massage therapist (such as myself!) or a physio to help you out with passive stretching. Particularly post massage, when all of your muscles are warm and adaptable, an assisted passive stretch can hit the spot.


Take care out there and rest up! (Just think of it as an excuse to have a 3-day long Netflix marathon #injuredandwinning).






By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 11 2018 08:00AM

Sports massage expert, Tessa Glover, shares some info about the all-important powerhouse that is the glutes and suggests how you can stregnthen them and use them more effectively to improve your running and reduce the chance of injury. Helpful stuff!


‘The glutes’ are three muscles of the hip called the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. The minimus is located beneath the medius and the medius partially beneath the max and their actions are the following:


The glute max has an upper and a lower part. The upper abducts (lifts the leg away from the side of the body) and laterally rotates the thigh. The lower extends (takes the leg behind the


body) and laterally rotates the thigh and extends the trunk of the body.


The glute medius and the glute minimus both abduct the femur at the hip joint and rotates the thigh medially (inwards and towards the other leg)


So now you know where they are and what they do why is it so important to know how to engage them and to feel them being used when running?


A simple explanation is to think of your glutes as the powerhouse of the lower body. If you can run with your glutes activated then you are not relying on your hamstrings as much, therefore reducing the risk of injury in these three overused muscles of the posterior thigh. You will run faster and more efficiently.



Two ways to activate your glutes


1. Hold on to something for balance then stand on your left leg. Stand up straight and lift your right leg behind you without bending your knee. Now, lower your leg and squeeze your right glutes. Then do the same movement again and see if you notice a difference. You should feel a warm ‘burn’ feeling in the glutes as you lift the right leg for the second time. Try this experiment on the other leg now.


2. Hold on to something for balance with your right hand, raise your left leg with your knee bent and lift it as high as you can until you feel that warm burn sensation in your right glutes, hold that pose for up to a minute, then externally rotate your left hip and hold that for a further minute. Repeat on the other leg.


Now that you know the feeling that you are looking for, try to keep that burn feeling as you walk, very slowly and pronounced with the thigh raised and knee bent (a little like a dressage horse would do) for about 10 paces. Now try it with a slow run. Do these as part of your warm up before running and see what a difference it makes.


Strengthening the glutes


Because many of us work in sedentary jobs, the glutes become lazy so you may find that even though you now know how to activate them, they may start to fatigue quickly.

Here are some simple exercises to begin to strengthen the different glute muscles.


Glute maximus


Lie on your front with your head resting on your hands. Keeping your front hip bones flat against the floor, lift your left leg,keeping it straight, approximately 6 inches (15cm) off the floor, then abduct the same leg (taking it slightly sideways away from your body) approximately 4-6 inches (12-15cm), then return it to the raised but straight position and then lower it to the floor. Repeat until tired and then do the same on the right leg.


Glute medius and minimus


Lie on your left hand side, with your left arm extended above your head and your head rested on your arm. Bring both knees up to a 90 degree angle to your body and with your ankles staying together, externally rotate your right hip (open up towards the celing) and then return to the first position. Continue until your hip is a little fatigued. Then change sides.


To feel the muscles being used, rest the palm of your right hand on the side of your hip as your externally rotate it.


Images from “Atlas of the Skeletal Muscles” by Robert J Stone and Judith A Stone




















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