Howard competing in the Sala Silverman Triathlon in August 2017.
As a sportsman, I would describe myself as a golfer who does triathlon to keep fit. These two sports give me considerable discomfort in my mid-to-lower back during the summer months as I train and compete in both. It’s something I'd learned to live with when I was ignorant about how to fix it. A football injury effectively removed the ACL in my right knee and prohibited me from contact sports, so I stepped up the triathlon.
My triathlete brother and his triathlete wife recommended the Sufferfest app as a cycling training tool and I got deeply into it. I suffered and experienced more back discomfort. Some yoga videos came with the app but I largely ignored them, telling myself that “it wasn’t for me” and that I already knew how to pronounce “om”. Then I did a Sufferfest 3-week training plan and it recommended complementary yoga videos. I did them and was surprised—it was not at all what I expected—physically challenging at times, relief from back pain and reduced post-training soreness. The bite-sized sessions meant that it wasn't an effort to fit them in and they were short enough to sustain my interest.
The Sufferfest Facebook Group started a 30-day Yoga Challenge and I signed up, completing it and starting to see more benefits—improved flexibility, less soreness, better performance on the bike, and techniques to breathe deeply and relax. I found by the end of the 30 days that I could comfortably reach a more streamlined position on the bike and hold it for longer. I had to adjust the handlebars to accommodate the new position. At the time, I commented that my bike frame didn’t fit me anymore! I had to remove spacers to drop the stem a centimetre or two.
Now I’m past 2 months of consecutive yoga days and it’s part of my routine, whether I’m cycling or running that day, or not. I recently set a personal best time for a marathon, the newly-developed flexibility in my hamstrings and hips allowing for total recovery within 2 days, when I was back on the bike for the next training block.
The. breathing routines are absolutely perfect before bed and I’ve noticed the difference in the quality of my sleep, even on rest days.
Yoga 15 is transformational.
The golf seasons starts soon and I’m excited to see where my new spinal flexibility and stronger core take me, even if it’s only to alleviate the chronic back discomfort that I usually get through the summer. A good core should mean a better base to transfer weight through the shot = more power delivered to the ball = more distance!
Pro Tip: I like the Hip Opener routines and find that these are good before I climb on the bike. It’s not uncommon for me to do a hips routine, ride for an hour and then do something like Recovery Booster afterwards or the Core Challenge workout for that day.
Photo credit: Carl-Henrik Rapp / Rapp Photo