Day 47- Introducing our famous peanut to the world

Laura Penhaul By

Day 47- Introducing our famous peanut to the world

Those of you that read our day 41 blog from Nats would have been enlightened to some of the physical issues we are experiencing whilst out at sea. Knowing that there are a few fellow ocean rowers planning to tackle the Atlantic later this year, I thought I’d drop down a few top physio tips on how to keep some niggles at bay…

1) top of the list is without a doubt ensuring that you do not leave without having a ‘peanut’ on board. The peanut is unfortunately not of the edible kind, however its uses are multifactorial and unlike anything else ocean rowing related, it’s inexpensive! Simply tape 2 tennis balls together and hey presto, you have a functioning peanut. Uses: – mobilise your thoracic spine (part of your spine between your shoulder blades) by lying flat onto it, so that it presses into the muscles either side of your spine. Whilst lying on it, reach your arms up and over your head, or work your ribs by taking deep breaths and long exhalations, or rotate side to side at one level of your spine. Gradually shift your body along the peanut, spending approx. 1min on each level of your spine.
– trigger point release. When the outer part of your hips get tight you can lie on your side on the peanut so it applies pressure on the tight areas. When your shoulders get tight, you can lie again on your side, but so the peanut is applying pressure on the muscles in your shoulder blade. – replacement foam roller. With lack of space aboard Doris for a foam roller, the peanut does just the job, if not in my opinion it gets in a bit deeper and therefore is even better. Tend to use it in this manner along the outside of the quad to release it from the ITB and also in the calf. If you bend your knee in and out or flex your ankle up and down respectively, whilst lying on the peanut, you’ll get a good affect on the hip or calf. – throw and catch. If all else fails and you don’t use it, you’ve now got 2 tennis balls on the boat to play throw and catch with your team mates or make into ‘Wilson 1’ and ‘Wilson 2’ (from Castaway) to hold off insanity.

2) Pullum Sports resistance band (I’d suggest red as you can double it up). This is x10 or more of the strength of black theraband so don’t bother with that stuff, it’s also much more robust. Uses: -Conditioning. Because you’re not walking around and don’t have any ground reaction force for your muscles to be working against, you will atrophy (muscle waste) those muscles that are not being used.The band can be used to do isometric holds (sustained resisted contraction) for your hips to at least keep some activity in your hip rotators (part of your glute/derrière muscles). Also if experiencing shoulder impingement due to rolling forwards too much, then again sustained, resisted shoulder rotation can be effective. – Stretching aid. To add additional resistance to a stretch or help gain that extra range of movement you need.

3) Stretch. Ideally after every rowing session I would target the following key areas:
– hip flexors
– quads
– hamstrings
– glutes
– thoracic spine & ribs with rotation – anterior chest/ shoulders – wrist/forearm This is often done out on the oars but can also be done in the aft cabin if your team mate allows you to use the space. If I had to target just 2 areas because of time, then I’d go hip flexors and thoracic spine for me, but these are the areas I have issues which may not be the same for all.

4) tendon gliding for ‘claw hand’. This mobilises the tendon along the sheath that it runs in. When the hand starts to adopt the claw like position, then mobilising the tendon and working the extensor tendons will create more balance.

5) self trigger point/ massage. When the claw hand starts to kick in, take 5mins pre and post row to get into your forearm and also the palm of your hand.

6) talcum powder and sudocrem. You can’t have enough of it. Talcum powder I learnt when doing triathlons, that it was a great trick to have talc in your bike shoes and trainers in transition so that you don’t spend time drying your feet or risking blisters when you run in wet shoes. So I brought this little gem to the boat by adding talc to our list and as you may be aware from the blogs, it has been the saviour of the derrières. Now Sudocrem too has multiple uses and is brilliant. I was fortunate to have less of an ‘angry bum’ than the others, I’m not sure how I got away with this, but certainly regular hygiene, strict routine of dry clothes off oars and the routine of: talc post row, sudocrem for pre row, I feel works.

7) SOS Rehydrate ( I can’t recommend this stuff enough. Just like you’d take rehydration salts if you were significantly dehydrated due to vomiting/ diarrhoea, this stuff has been made more palatable with no compromise to optimising the osmolarity for hydration. Sir Ben Ainslie used it the year he turned Americas Cup around and its recently been used on the Volvo Ocean Race as well as being integrated into many main stream sports. All I can say is that it works an absolute treat for us out here and I definitely notice a change in my alertness and productivity after having it.

8) heat management strategies. Keeping cool on a 29ft ocean rowing boat where there’s no where to hide from the sun, is a slight task that we are constantly problem solving best options, so far I have these:
– battery powered hand fans – wet your head band and then regularly remove and hold it to the wind so it cools the material and then re-apply. – put your wrists as far as your pulse points in the sea to cool. If fully overheating then get your whole body in, nothing like hitting all pulse points by a wee dip in the sea.
– keep well hydrated (as above)
– wear loose, light reflecting Clothing
-wear sun cream factor 50+. We use Rocky Mountain sunscreen and their face sticks which are brilliant. They were recommended to us from one of our Ambassadors Sarah Outen who is another fellow ocean rower.

Currently to date, these are a few tips that spring to mind and I’ll keep you updated with any additions as we progress. X

Personal messages:
Michelle – so lovely to hear your news hon, can’t believe my wee man Jack has started school and Big H is walking! Amazing news, time flies in the Robertson household!
David Bowes – what a great email to receive, thank you so much for your kind words and more importantly the inspiration of music on Doris. We do indeed have Louis Armstrong ‘what a wonderful world’ so we’ll play that and think of you as we sing along, certainly changing the words to suit our environment is a past time we regularly enjoy :).



  1. Vicki says:

    I have just been to Devon for 4 days and the Internet at the hotel was really bad, I missed reading your blogs, as I have been following you daily since you first set off, so I have just spent the last couple of days catching up!!! You have also popped over the 1000 mile line, brilliant.

    Keep safe.

  2. Jim Andrews says:

    My Louis Armstrong, aka Satchmo, choice would be “We have all the time in the World” one of my favourites and quite appropriate I think? We regularly use the hand held battery operated fans, but even these genius little devices have been surpassed by……The hand held battery operated fans with….water spray. Awesome! Instant cool in 35C. Doing great ladies. Stay safe.XX

  3. This will certainly be useful. I’m hoping to do the Atlantic Row with someone I’ve teamed up with. If not by rowing – then potentially by another means (which will hopefully be a world’s first!)

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