Training for an IRONMAN?
Whether this is your first or you’ve tackled many IRONMANS, you know that you’ll need to put heavier-than-usual loads on your body to meet your training plan.
During training, you put a ton of stress on your body. All that amount of pressure can lead to injury before, during, or after race day. What can you do? Using electric muscle stimulation (EMS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be the final puzzle piece in your triathlon training plan to help you keep healthy for your IRONMAN and beyond the finish line.
Why EMS and TENS?
EMS and TENS is an essential part of IRONMAN training because it helps increase strength, endurance, stamina, and recovery, all of which help maximize performance.
Lisa Bentley, 11-time IRONMAN Champion, coach, speaker and author of An Unlikely Champion says, “I have used TENS to reduce pain around a few different injuries—inflammation of tendons, lower-back tightness, and subsequent SI joint issues. I have used EMS to stimulate the muscles which often get turned off due to injury.”
What are EMS and TENS?
Basically, EMS mimics the way your body works to cause your muscles to contract. Your muscles act as if you’re working out. Except, instead of voluntarily firing off (because you, say, lift something), the muscles fire when given a very particular electrical impulse from your Compex® device. The TENS can help relieve muscle pain due to injury and over-training. The TENS setting on your Compex delivers small, safe, electrical signals through conductive pads to stimulate the nerves under your skin. It relieves pain in two ways: by helping the body to release natural painkillers (called endorphins) and by blocking pain messages.
Using Compex® During Training
Using Compex during your training can help you gain muscle strength in hard-to-reach areas and strengthen muscles when injured. “I had patellar femoral pain, I used EMS to stimulate the medial quadriceps muscle to get stronger and activated so that it could help hold my knee cap in place and counteract my overactive ITB from pulling my kneecap to the outside,” explains Bentley. “I had used EMS when I had a stress fracture to keep the surrounding muscles activated while we rested the bone and joint as they repaired. That way, when the bone was healed, I was able to return to training faster since the normal muscular atrophy had been reduced or eliminated.”
Compex for Recovery
Also, Compex can also activate muscles on recovery days to enhance blow flow, which in turn helps heal your body. “Training is the process of stressing out muscles and breaking them down. Improvements come during the recovery phase where the muscle gets stronger and more resilient,” shares Bentley.
Ironically, injuries happen when you overload muscles and tendons. Recovery from injury occurs when you gradually introduce load to the muscle or tendons. You cannot have rehabilitation without introducing a controlled load. Adding in your Compex device to your training allows for that controlled load by stimulating the muscles.
Compex for Warming Up
On top of strength and recovery, you can use your Compex for an effective warm up. The pre-designed programs can target the specific muscle groups you’ll be using, whether you’re in the locker room, at your desk, or sitting next to the pool. The great thing about using Compex during your IRONMAN training is that it’s portable so you can multitask and warm up as you make your way to the pool or set up your bike for a ride. And, it reaches muscle groups that are hard to reach from a regular warm-up.
Compex is a tool to supplement strength and endurance programs. You can use the conditioning pre-designed programs to supplement weight training on the same day. Say you focus on training legs one morning, you can use EMS strength on the same muscles that evening, and follow up with active recovery. This helps to fire up your muscles a little quicker than training alone.
You’re putting in a lot of hard work for your IRONMAN. You want to wake up feeling refresh and ready to train each day. In addition to your plan, make sure you get proper sleep, eat well, and use your Compex for an all-around solid training routine.
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The contents of this blog were independently prepared, and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the views of any other party. Individual results may vary depending on a variety of patient-specific attributes and related factors.
IRONMAN Arizona is one of the most popular triathlon events in the world because the spectator friendly non-ocean swim, atypical flat and fast bike route and its relatively flat running course. Compex athletes Jordan Rapp, Timothy O'Donnell, Amanda Stevens, Mike Zafirovski, and Neily Mathias competed this year under unusually adverse conditions ranging from cold temps to high winds on each leg of the race. Learn more about how Compex athletes Jordan Rapp and Timothy O'Donnell incorporated Compex into their post-race recovery programs after IRONMAN Arizona.
Congratulations to all Compex athletes:
3rd Place: Jordan Rappor
5th Place: Timmothy O'Donnell
5th Place: Amanda Stevens
10th Place: Mike Zafirovski
21st Place: Neels Mathias
Compex triathlete Jordan Rapp, who placed 3rd, talks about his IRONMAN Arizona post-race recovery and how he incorporated Compex into this recovery plan:
"Post race, I typically wait to see how the body sorts out for a few days. In the immediate aftermath, everything hurts. If there's long travel involved (not the case in this race), then I'd use the Recovery Plus or massage settings on a very low current just to keep the muscles moving my legs on the plane ride. I thought of this after racing IMMEL in 2013, and sitting on that 16 hour plane ride after the race and just locking up, I thought, "I have to figure out how to do this differently." And that's when I started experimenting, and the Compex is so easy in that regard. But since I fly to Tempe and it's just an hour flight, there's a lot of walking - too much! - at the airport and such and so I don't worry as much about keeping the muscles moving. This race is also different because as the last race of the season, I'm less worried about bouncing back as quickly as possible. I try to mentally unwind as well and just sort of let things flow. I take this approach with vitamins and stuff as well. I just sort of step back away from being an athlete for a couple weeks at the end of the season.
But I'm very keen to get back into swimming, since I find that is a great way to stay active, recover fast, and continue to work on my biggest weakness. So I'll probably start to getting back into swimming before the end of the week. For swimming, I personally have found the Compex to be great for obliques. All the rib muscles take a beating with the various demands and super long day of an Ironman, but I seem to have particular trouble with some of my obliques. So again, I'd start with using that to get those firing. Some light massage, recovery plus, and then maybe some potentiation before I swim. Mid-season, I'd probably focus more on doing something with my legs, especially in the peroneals and anterior tibialis to get my toes and sub-talar joint control working again. But since I'll take at least a week off of running and cycling, I'll just wait to use the Compex as normal and as needed once I start back up there.
I'm sure that as I unwind from the race, sore spots will crop up - like in my neck from lugging the bike box and suitcase on a beat-up body - and I can just get some relief with massage or recovery plus modes, again with super low current.
And, at least for this time of year, it's also good to use the Compex to get your abdominals working after you stretch your gut out to 5X its normal size at Thanksgiving!"
Compex triathlete Timothy O'Donnell, who placed 5th, talks about how he speeds up his post-race IRONMAN Arizona recovery with the Compex Active Recovery program.
"Recovering from an Ironman is never quick or easy, especially IM Arizona where the concrete run course take a huge toll on your legs. I rely heavily on my Compex post to get me moving and speed up my recovery. The active recovery program is my go to for my calves and to increase blood flow across my IT band and quads I rely on Recovery Plus Program. Thanks Compex!"
Compex is the Neuromuscular Electrical Muscle Stimulation (NMES) device of choice for athletes, coaches and trainers around the world. Pioneering electrotherapy techniques through extensive research and innovation spanning the last three decades, Compex’s flagship “Muscle Stim” devices are used to improve physical performance, speed recovery in preparation for the next performance, and for rehabilitating the muscle for peak performance.
Compex enables athletes to safely customize their training, exercise more muscle fibers in less time, and recover faster. The result is a more efficient workout with less risk of injury and virtually no cardiovascular fatigue. Learn more at www.ShopCompex.com
If you're competing to attending the Ironman® Boulder this weekend, now's your chance to check out Compex muscle stimulators. Our mobile muscle stim trailer will be at the event to help you supercharge your workout and speed your recovery- two things every triathlete needs.
Watch President of DJO Global Consumer Business Toby Bost as he gives you a preview of the Compex mobile muscle stim trailer and what electric muscle stimulation is all about. Want to check out Compex for yourself? Follow us on Twitter at @CompexCoach to see where our trailer will be next.