Physical therapy is both expensive and time-consuming, and being in pain is no fun—and potentially avoidable. Here are 5 self-care tips for this year’s race:
1. Take a break at least once an hour.
Sitting for long stretches of time puts tremendous strain on your back, neck, shoulders, and more—something I learned from my physical therapist while recovering from my own spinning-related back injury. As tough as it may feel to stop spinning and get up from your wheel, do it at least once an hour just to walk around or do a few minutes of stretching (but twice is better).
2. Sit up straight.
Turns out, your mother was right: slouching is not only unattractive, but it causes more trouble for your spine. Remind yourself to sit up straight (shoulders back & down) while you’re seated at your wheel.
3. Take advantage of the scheduled rest days.
People, we athletes are given rest days for a reason! Take a lesson from the great event itself: the immune system, our brains, and of course, our muscles need at least a day off from intense activity in order to regenerate healthy tissue. (Need more information about Le Tour de Fleece’s specific riding days, or stages? Come join us on Team Spin Off on Ravelry, for this and more!)
4. Switch it up.
We all know how repetitive stress injuries occur: from using the same muscles in the same way over and over again. The vastness of the 3,351 kilometer route of Le Tour de France allows for stages varying in intensity of grade, stressing different muscle groups. We spinners can put this lesson to use on the Tour de Fleece by following the riders’ actual route and their most arduous days and planning for our own challenge days in addition to “flat” days. Perhaps a day of plying or learning a new-to-you technique? Or switch up the way you draft your fibers by spinning long draw or supported long draw after your usual day of short forward draw? This is also an ideal time to add walking with a spindle to your practice.
5. Don’t forget to show your hands the care they need.
As spinners, we would be lost without our most precious tools, our hands. During this time of heavy use, thank your hands, and keep them strong long into your future, by bringing these spinners’ hand-strengthening exercises to your routine. (Bonus: you’ll strengthen your neck and shoulders, too!)
See you en route!
DEBBIE HELD is a freelance business journalist who chose full-time spinsterhood after an extended illness. She lives in the Atlanta area with her wool and wheels, where she’s usually spinning and working on her next crafting article. She may be reached via her website, www.debbieheld.com.