As I've gotten older, my active lifestyle?especially training five or six horses a day for the last six years?has begun to take a toll on my body. So today I thought I'd tell you about the products made by Back On Track, products that I've used for the last year and that have given me great relief from arthritis and tendonitis.
Back On Track makes a line of athletic clothing, joint and muscle braces, and even bedding designed to increase your body?s circulation and, thus, alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and tendonitis. They also make horse products?blankets, saddle pads, leg wraps and boots?that I haven't tried yet. You can find their products at www.backontrack.eu or by calling 888-758-9836.
The key to the products is that the polyester fiber has a ceramic powder melted into the threads, and that ceramic powder reflects body heat as an infrared wave. This reflected heat can reduce inflammation, ease muscle tension, increase blood flow, and hasten the healing process. They make back, elbow, ankle, knee, wrist and neck braces, gloves, long- and short-sleeved t-shirts, underwear, and even pillows and blankets.
And they're reasonably priced: The braces and gloves are $20 to $30?far less expensive than any drug therapy you can do. The horse products are relatively more expensive than the human products, and that's one reason I haven't tried them yet. And the products are machine-washable, but don't put them in the drier.
A friend of ours has used the knee braces for several years, and late last year, when I was suffering from severe tendonitis in both elbows (because I was then riding one horse who was a puller and one who was very heavy on his forehand), she suggested I try the Back On Track elbow braces. For slightly more than $60, I got them in early February, and by April my tendonitis was about 90 percent gone. A month later, I'd say it was 95 percent improved, and now my elbows give me only the slightest twinge when I completely bend them. I'd say they're 99 percent better than they were in January, when I often woke up at night because they hurt so badly.
To achieve that pain reduction, I wore the elbow braces eight to as much as 12 hours a day. Basically, I wore them whenever I was riding (or driving to competitions, a period of two to 12 hours), or whenever I was doing anything outside, including mowing the grass or weed-eating. I'd previously been wearing elbow braces that put pressure on your elbow to support the tendons, and, although they prevented the tendonitis from worsening, they were uncomfortable and didn't alleviate the pain. Now I continue to ear the Back On Track elbow braces whenever I ride or work outside, and last Friday I schooled four horses on a cross-country course, an endeavor that strained my shoulders, back and neck and forced me to visit my chiropractor on Monday. But my elbows have felt fine.
In late June, a horse struck my ankle with a front hoof while I was asking her to back out of our four-horse trailer. Within a day it was considerably inflamed and was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, so much so that the next day I went to the emergency room for x-rays, to be sure I hadn?t broken my ankle or the tip of my fibula. Fortunately the answer was that I hadn?t, that it was (only) a bruise and the tendon and bone. But it stubbornly refused to heal, so about six weeks later I purchased a Back On Track ankle brace. The improvement in my ankle since then (now (now slightly more than five weeks later) is considerable?I'd say it's 80 percent improved. I can flex and turn my ankle without pain now. I've been mostly wearing the ankle brace before and after going to bed (six to 10 hours each day), and the pain is now almost negligible. The only drawback to the ankle brace is that it's too thick to wear comfortably with the Blundstone boots I ride in daily, although I have worn it with my running shoes.
While I was buying the Back On Track ankle brace from a vendor at the Woodside Horse Trials (Calif.), I decided to purchase pair of their gloves, since my hands have become increasingly arthritic now that I'm past 50. I wear them to bed (Heather and I joke that it's probably a sign of aging when we start wearing therapeutic clothing to bed), and my hands are already feeling nicely improved. Last Friday, after the rigorous day of cross-country schooling, was a big test, I thought. My hands were quite stiff and tired, but after two nights they were back to normal.
The real test of the gloves will come this winter. We don't get snow here in Northern California, but most days (and nights) are cold and damp or raining, the kind of weather that really ignites arthritis and that has caused me considerable discomfort in the last few years.
I suspect my next purchase will be Back On Track socks, because my both my big toes (but especially my right toe) have become considerably arthritic from the running I did for 30-plus years.