By: David Howatson-Begg
On October 14th in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, some of the toughest athletes on Earth will gather to compete in this year’s Ironman World Championship™. Over eight grueling hours of intense competition isn't everyone's idea of the dream trip to a paradise island. Swim in open water for 2.4 miles. Cycle for 112 miles. Then finish it off by running 26.22 miles to the finish line. You might be exhausted already just thinking about it. Or you may be one of the thousands of budding triathletes making the pilgrimage to watch the elite go head to head.
In the first of two articles, we will explore the role of whole body vibration in building endurance and hear from an Ironman competitor who knows what it takes to endure. Having felt the highs and horrors of a marathon, I can only imagine how it feels to put your body through an hour of swimming and a near five hour haul on a bike beforehand. We humans are strange beasts.
Training specificity is a term often saved for athletes. Be that as it may, the rest of us need to keep our workout as specific to the task as possible. Power Plate creates micro hits of ground reaction force. In running, the body experiences huge force as the ground and foot come into contact and the feet need to be able to absorb that impact. With whole body vibration we can expose the body to that force anywhere from 25-50 times per second by adjusting the frequency.
In an Ironman event the feet go from freezing water to being stuck in a cleat shoe and into a running shoe. Okay Hawaiian water is fairly warm but any exposure to different environments puts even more demand on the foot. With hundreds of thousands of nerves and receptors in the feet it's a body part that endurance athletes in particular need to take good care of. By training on Power Plate as part of the running element, the user can ensure that the feet get a high level of stimulation. Our tip is to train barefoot whenever possible. Having skin to platform contact adds to the increased neurological activity as well as circulatory pump.
For the cycling phase the demand on the hips are huge. Hamstring shortening and reliance on quadriceps strength are major issues. Sitting is not an authentic environment, which is why it leads to all manners of problems from posture to pain and everything in between. When the body is upright gravity does all the work for the quads and hamstrings. Not in the saddle. Our hips and glutes are compressed for long periods of time, reducing blood flow and hydration.
Without oxygen rich blood the performance of the pedaling legs declines drastically. Post cycling massage with Power Plate is an absolute must. We've covered the topic before in relation to indoor cycling classes but it becomes even more prevalent for the Ironmen and Ironwomen sitting in that restricted position with repetitive movement for so long.
Mobilizing and massaging with vibration daily facilitates positive long term effects. As regular Power Plate users will know the increased flexibility or mobility post stretch only lasts a few minutes. Consistent use is the only way to make that improvement stick. Building that routine is easier when you know it involves a tool that provides muscular relieve through massage and fast mobility options.
The key to discipline is visualizing the reward. It might be a quick time. It might be a smoother swim. It might be a gold medal. With Power Plate the reward comes every day. That wonderful treat of improved mobility and reduced muscular soreness cannot be underestimated. In our next post we'll be hearing from a man who knows all about the reward of being an Ironman. And luckily for us he knows a thing or two about whole body vibration.
By David Howatson-Begg, Performance Health Systems UK Master Trainer