It’s that time of year again, when we frock and suit up and head to the track to check out the competition, and maybe even back a winner or two! The Spring Racing Carnival is one of the highlights of the Melbourne calendar, but it can leave you feeling rather sore and sorry for yourself after the last horse has passed the post.
So, to help you survive a long day – or days – at the track, our team have put together some handy tips to make it across the finish line intact. Let’s make this year’s carnival all gain, no pain!
Choose your footwear wisely
You’ll be doing a lot of standing, so give the stilettos a miss, says CPP Physio, Jane Lau. “High stilettos increase pressure on knee joints and also the lower back. They also shorten the calf muscles which could lead to cramps and strain.”
Wedges are a much better option, she adds. “Not only will these keep you from sinking into the grass, but they offer more support and your feet will thank you the next day. Make sure you choose a wedge with a back strap to hold the foot in place so you are not clawing with your toes to keep your shoes on.”
And pack a pair of thongs!
While thongs might not be the best look for race day, they’re a heck of a lot better for your feet – and your pride – than kicking off your heels altogether once the pain sets in!
But not just any thongs will do, says Collins Place Physio Director, Pete Hunt. He recommends you throw a pair of Archies Thongs in your oversized clutch. These physio-developed thongs have built in arch support and supportive straps to keep your feet comfy and pain-free.
It’s a long day at the races, but try to maintain good posture throughout. According to Jane, “Good posture is important because it is the position in which your muscles are working most efficiently and the least amount of strain is placed on muscles, ligaments and joints.” Meaning you’ll be in much better working order the days following the Cup.
If that’s not compelling enough, consider this. The other benefit of correct posture is that it gives you an appearance of confidence, and evens shaves inches off the waist. Meaning your expensive new dress or suit will look even better!
To stand/ sit tall Jane recommends the following: “Imagine a string pulling the top of your head towards the ceiling. Tuck your chin in and draw your shoulder blades towards the opposite hip like the letter ‘X’.”
Prep with some stretches & strengthening
Physio Conor Brennan recommends preparing for race days by doing the following stretch. “This is a stretch for your calf and achilles. These muscles start to shorten when wearing heels on a regular basis. This leads to reduced ankle mobility which will place increased load on the joints and muscles around it and can lead to injury.”
He also recommends this core activation exercise, which will help with standing tall for hours. “This exercise will help you to isolate and activate your core muscles to stabilise your spine while you move your extremities.”
Conor adds, “Some people can experience some low back ache when standing all day. A good tip, especially for the ladies in heels, is to tilt your pelvis backwards, as if you are tucking your tailbone underneath you. This helps to activate your core muscles and take the pressure off your lumbar spine.”
Recover with a massage!
“A day of frivolity at the track eating, drinking and, for the fine fillies, standing in heels, can leave your lymphatic system sluggish, causing dehydration and muscle tightness, most noticeably in your legs. A massage will assist in slowing down an overtaxed nervous system, supporting the lymphatic system to flush toxins and move fluid back to sore, dehydrated muscles. I do advise drinking water before and after treatment to assist the process,” says CPP Remedial Massage Therapist, Mariana Stamatopoulos.
A final word…
Remember to slip, slop, slap, don’t bet more than you can afford, and keep up the water intake. And most importantly, enjoy your day (or week) at the races!
Image Credit: By Chris Phutully from Australia [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons