Thursday, December 20, 2007

No Rest...

...for the offshore racer!
Aside from the obvious implications of why "no rest" for the offshore racer (constant boat work, etc.), my meaning refers to the physiological state of a sailor who endures long periods at sea.

I have a new "Mini Student" under the wing of SailTrim and he ask many questions. In our last consult he inquired about his training and wanted to understand my intention with things like his food journals and why I wanted him to do this, that and the other with regards to training since in offshore sailing there are long periods of "sitting".

It is an excellent question! Though, Mini sailors do not sit still very much...

sitting |ˈsiti ng |
a continuous period of being seated, esp. when engaged in a particular activity

Yes, there can be long periods of "sitting", however sitting for an offshore sailor is nothing to be compared to sitting at your desk or sitting on deck for a day of racing around the cans.

To sit while sailing typically requires great effort from many muscle groups of the body, unless stuck in a significant light patch and flat water. The average day racers does not likely give credit that the end of day fatigue may be a result from sitting on the rail. Surely the tacking duel or sail changes will come to mind first, it's more obvious physical exertion. Though sitting on the rail while plowing through the water only provides minimal recovery from the maneuver. The true recovery begins once off the boat and the stabilizing muscles can take a break, come time for sleep, all "hands" are into recovery mode with little interruption.

The unique aspect of sitting for my Mini Sailor and other sailors who participate in "endurance Sailing" (Offshore or Inshore Distance Racing) is typically the body, while on land has a period of time where there is no movement and it can focus on recovery (aka. Sleeping in a bed on a stationary surface). While at sea for consecutive days, this stationary recovery time does not occur due to the simple fact the said "bed" (aka bunk, pile of sails, etc) is not on a stationary surface. In fact, staying put in this "rocking horse" of a "bed" requires physical effort.

The result of sleeping in a state of constant motion is the body never achieves a true period of "Rest" and must adapt to an "Active Rest" for some level of recovery from the day's work to occur. This is an additional reason why offshore sailors need to consume so many more calories while at sea and stay ahead on hydration needs. The body can be prepared, to some degree for this level of sailing while on land and why I will have my Mini sailor training more like a Tour de France cyclist rather than a sprinter.

So, much like the individual who chooses to be a sprinter verse the marathon runner...much can be said with sailors. Some builds are better suited for banging around the corners while others will race across oceans and that's ok. It's just important to note how "sitting around" on a boat during an ocean race is a marathon of an event and worth preparing for properly on land.

Fair Winds,

Speaking of marathon sailing: The Barcelona World Race has been amazing to follow!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My aching back...

It could be due to stress, long hours of desk work, bad fall on the slopes last winter or many winters ago. The ache may be from carrying the little ones around or raking leaves all weekend. Sailing may or may not be the cause but almost everyone at some point in their life has a good old "back ache".

There are so many ways to injure and stress the muscles of the entire back region since they are used everyday in virtually every action we do. These days the calls, emails and skypes are less associated with sailing but from those who have been putting in long hours at the desk for work and school. They are all sailors and all have achy backs and they are not currently sailing.

So when you are riding the desk more than the rail and the lower back is sending cries of help - get up. The primary cause of lower back pain from those who invest long periods of time sitting are tight hamstrings. The tightness is facilitated from the long periods of being stationary, stationary bodies do not circulate fresh blood to the deeper tissues as well as mobile ones.

Take the time to walk about the office, speak with a colleague or fellow student, trip to the water cooler, etc. and encourage blood flow to the muscles, helping them properly ease. Staying hydrated will support this action of "work-day rehab" and the looser hamstrings and glutes will pull a little less on the lower lumbar muscle attachments.

The SailTrim July 2006 Issue may be of use here!

Feeling the pain in upper back and neck?

Question: Do you look down or up at the computer screen?

If the answer is either, consider tweaking your posture to set eyes straight head, encourage a healthier alignment of the spinal column while sitting and alleviating the strain on neck, shoulders and upper back muscles.

Finally, the muscles of stressed bodies are normally contracted and tight holding in place the cellular by-products of over worked muscle cells and unless they relax, the circulatory system can not properly flush the tissue and replace it with a fresh supply of oxygenated blood, carrying away the cellular by-products.

When feeling the weight of the holiday, final exams and last quarter deadlines - stop for just a moment. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale, repeating a few times. The respiratory and circulatory systems are "business partners" and when you breath the circulatory system responds with increased flow in and out of the tissues.

The holidays can be bitter-sweet, but should be fun times spent with family and friends. To ensure the daily grind does not interfere - take a deep breath, walk about for a minute or two and think about all the sailing 2008 will hopefully bring!

Wishing all the sailors a little less stress this holiday season!