By Peter Nicol
In the last year I turned 41, moved to New York and had a baby, alongside starting a new business and continuing my work with SquashSkills. What suffered was my fitness (waistline!) and squash—leaving me achy in my knees and hips followed by constant discomfort in my back and shoulders. I knew that what was needed to feel better was to train and get in better shape so I could play squash, however life was always in the way. I’m sure this is a common issue for so many of you out there—the desire to play but the fact that you need to train as well to stay in shape to be able to play squash, but having no time to incorporate physical training into your busy schedule.
I made a decision at the start of the season to look after myself better, which will allow me to play free of pain and with much better recovery. This first part details the schedule I now follow to prepare my body for physical workouts and hopefully you can use some of the techniques to help areas of tightness prior to working out and playing.
It’s important to note that due to my schedule, I fit all the following in as and when as opposed to making specific times—I realized having a set schedule (i.e., blocking off an entire hour at a time) did not work with my lifestyle. Therefore, I’ve adapted and devote pockets of time to specific needs. As we speak, I actually have a heat pad on my back and will take ten minutes to foam roll after I finish this article. Last night after dinner I laid on a lacrosse ball to help alleviate tension in my back while watching football. There is no excuse (although I have found many in the past!) as we can all fit in some rehab and prehab work throughout our day.
I have found four specific treatments that best address my re/prehab needs, listed below:
Heat pad—I use the heat pad mid-morning and afternoon on my back for twenty minutes while on my computer so that my muscles are warm and relaxed. I break for ten minutes after to foam roll my back or use the lacrosse ball around my shoulder blades.
Foam Roller/Lacrosse Ball—once a day, normally in the evening after dinner, I follow the heat pad with a foam roller, mostly working on my back and IT bands. The lacrosse ball works for my back and glutes.
Compex machine—this is a muscle stimulation machine that I use on the active recovery setting. I find it works really well with my back, glutes and psoas/hip flexors. After sitting at a computer all day, my psoas in particular has shortened and going out to play squash immediately only exacerbates the issue.
Yoga—yin/yang at least once a week in a hot room. The flow element (yang) gets me engaging my core/glutes and then the stationary (yin) helps stretch out my stiff areas—hips and back in particular.
Next time I’ll share the strengthening and conditioning work I do. Again, it is in very manageable chunks of time so that it is possible for everyone to follow.