Written by my good friend Jimmy Tiblier who knows injury and recovery better than most.
Throughout my experience in athletics, I have been through much injury and recovery. I’ve come across many different healing modalities, and after spending time with world champion wakeboarder Darin Shapiro of www.ridethespot.com, I learned about many devices and methods that accelerate healing and minimize pain to get me back on the water faster. Here is a list of the top ten most helpful tools I have been using. All of these devices or modalities have inherent risks so please consult your physician before using these tools and techniques.
1.) TENS Unit- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator. I use this device multiple times daily. The device helps interfere with pain signals in the brain, bringing relief to the patient. This device also promotes blood flow to the area being treated which promotes healing.
2.) MENS Unit- Microcurrent Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulator. This device works similarly to the TENS unit, but runs at a much lower frequency. The MENS unit sends an electrical current through the damaged tissue to create a specific frequency at the cellular level. This unit helps athletes with wound healing, tendon, and ligament repair, as well as more severe degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis by matching the frequency found naturally in healing tissue.
3.) Qigong- (Chi Gong). Qigong refers to a form of Chinese medicine, but there is a device that is considered a Qigong therapeutic massager. The device rests on your chest or injured area and recreates a tapping frequency that promotes healing. The frequency mimics the tapping of the Qigong practicioner’s hands. Not only does this help with pain, but also relaxation.
4.) Trigger Point Therapy- Essentially, trigger point therapy focuses on finding the areas where muscles tend to get sore (knots), and attempts to soothe the area by rubbing the knots out. This can be done with a foam roller, laser trigger point devices, muscle sticks, and even lacrosse balls.
5.) Sacroiliac Belt or SI Belt- This device was developed by a doctor who focuses on sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The belt sits around the hips and constricts them in a way that provides extra support for the pelvis and spine. I train with mine on, and Darin uses his when he wakeboards and trains. Check out Serola Belts for a quality product.
6.) Cupping- Cupping is an ancient Chinese medical practice that involves releasing tension from our muscle fascia (the network of fibers that hold our muscles in place). Cups are placed on the body and air is removed from the cup via flame or pump, thereby creating pressure inside the cup, allowing the fascia to be stretched and released.
7.) NET- Neuro Emotional Technique. All injuries have some emotional component involved, whether we care to admit our emotions or not. Anger, fear, anxiety, and even nostalgia are just a few examples of emotions that NET targets. NET uses muscle testing and specific homeopathic products to work through the emotion that is holding the athlete back from being 100% healthy.
8.) Ice and Heat- I shouldn’t have to emphasize the importance of ice post-injury. Ice is crucial within the first 4 days of an injury. Ice brings analgesia (pain relief) and decreases swelling. I use a Breg Kodiak ice machine because it comes with accessories for specific body parts (i.e., hip, knee, etc.), allowing for more efficient cooling of the area. Heat can also be used to soothe chronic injuries that have been bothering the athlete for a longer period of time.
9.) Decompression and Inversion tables- I use my inversion table to release abdominal and lower back tension. Hanging upside down from your ankles may not be the best form of relief for everyone, but can be beneficial for many, therefore I emphasize extra caution when using these two devices. Decompression tables are often found in a chiropractor’s office. The doctor releases tension and pain by pulling your legs and hips away from the upper body. Both provide similar results, but the decompression table tends to be safer, especially when performed by a chiropractor.
10.) Soft Tissue Massage- Massage helps me in countless ways, including flexibility and mobility. Massage also helps break up scar tissue, promotes blood flow, relieves myofascial trigger points, reduces swelling, and helps with toxin drainage. Massage is a must if an athlete is trying to stay healthy or accelerate healing.
Although injuries can be common in wakeboarding, you’ll be able to get back out there sooner by making use of these tools. They really do help and I am experiencing the benefits firsthand. Thank you Darin, Heather, Kien, and Kai’a for your guidance, wisdom, love and laughter.