MICHAEL LOVATO | Professional Triathlete




Anatomy of a Run Comeback: Recovery Pump

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It’s been about a week since I injured my calf down in Galveston, and I’ve made some really good progress on the recovery front. After taking four days completely off from running, I ventured out for my first comeback run.  That run was a 25-minute jaunt, with three 1-minute walk breaks.  I am a firm believe in giving the body a break to reset itself when building back to speed.  Run #2 in the comeback was the very next day. I’m also a big believer in consistency: giving the body a chance to adapt to the changes/ rehab you are pushing through it.  That particular run was a 30-minute trek, with walk breaks every ten minutes.

A rule of thumb I tend to live by is that hurting is OK, but harming is not.  This means that it’s fine to feel a bit of pain during the comeback, but the pain must go away (or at the very least stay the same) after the run.  Harming is when the pain you feel gets worse or persists all day long after the rehab run.

After my two runs, my assessment was that the muscle was loosening up, and there was notable improvement.  Fortunately for me, I have access to some amazing physical therapists in Austin (as well as in Boulder!), so they were able to confirm that the muscle strain was showing great improvement.  It was not just my own wishful thinking.

Day three of run comeback involved a 44-minute run – four blocks of 11 minutes with the corresponding 1-minute walk break.  The calf continued to pass the test.

Day four (yesterday) involved a bit of deep tissue work and ART.  I chose to swim and bike as my only training activities (in addition to my gym routine), so the calf got a break from running.  At the end of my long ride – later in the evening – I noticed that there was some new swelling/ fluid build-up on the tibia (near the injured Posterior Tibialis).  This pocket was not tender, but seemed to be a new addition.  I assumed it was a result of the manual therapy I had received that morning, so I iced for ten minutes.

Knowing that I had an hour run planned for today, I made sure I had covered every base, in terms of recovery. Another fortunate thing for me is that our Trakkers-Rev3 Racing Team has sponsorship by an amazing company, straight out of the medical industry: Recovery Pump.  Their products are designed to aid medical patients regain normal lymphatic flow and veinous return, when their bodies are not working properly.  These pneumatic compression boots are literal lifesavers to a great many people.  We athletes tend to need these same aids in our recovery, so the Recovery Pump has crossed over to our sport, and we are all the fortunate recipients of this crossover.

For an hour last night, as I tended to my computer work and rehydrating, I sat in my Recovery Pump boots.  Upon exiting the session, my “lump” of fluid, including any other (noticeable) fluid build-up was flushed completely gone.  Rare are the times when we can see visual proof that a product is working at it is touted to function.  We often are left to guess if what we did was helpful, coincidental, or purely an exercise in futility.  This is not to say those processes aren’t useful, but guessing tends to limit our confidence.

I am happy to say that Recovery Pump proved to me that it is a highly effective and useful tool to aid in recovery – from an injury, from a hard workout, or even from a hard day of standing around on our feet (we’ve all been there: wondering why we are so wrecked from attending a concert, for example).  Recovery Pump helped me wind down from a long training day, and it helped me heal up from a week-old injury.

While I am not back to full-speed yet, I am well on my way to getting there.  As I ended yesterday on the couch in a pair of “puffy boots”, I’m starting my day today in that same fashion.  Recovery Pump boots are also a great way to get the blood flowing in preparation for a training session.

Run comeback, here we go!

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