Monday, September 30, 2013

4 Ways to Stay Supple

As runners, I think most of us have suffered from tight muscles.  It comes with the territory.   It's kind of a catch 22 really.  The more we push ourselves physically, the more imperative it is we take care of ourselves.  This is something I've learned the hard way.  That's why adequate rest, recovery and self care are so important to remaining injury free. I always say that prevention is the best medicine and with a little help from these friends, you can help keep the injury monster at bay.  These are things that I use / do on a regular basis during my training. 

Post Run Stretching

D'uh, right?  You'd be surprised at just how many people don't stretch after a run and I've never quite understood this.  To each their own I guess.  What works for some doesn't always work for others.  I always find that if I don't take the time to stretch well after a run, especially a long or particularly hard run, my legs feel it the next day.  Maybe that's just because I'm getting older but either way, it's part of my routine.  I know I should also try and incorporate regular yoga practice into my training but finding the time is really difficult.  It's definitely something I'm going to incorporate in my off season to give my legs a bit of a different workout.  It will be good to head into Boston training with some flexibility in the bank so to speak, ha ha.

Foam Rolling

Fondly known in my world as the Torture Roll.  This is one of the best tools you can own if you are active in any way.   Runners, if you don't own one of these, get on it STAT.   I just added this bad boy to my collection (yes, I have a collection) and it's freaking awesome.
Trigger Point Technologies Grid Foam Roller
You can get it from my favourite multi-sport store (Running Free) here.  In fact right now until October 15th, they are having 20% off all injury prevention / maintenance accessories.  Just use the coupon code INJURYFREE at checkout.  There are a few other tools I use in between visits to my massage therapist, coincidentally most of them are also available at Running Free.  With the exception of the tennis ball, ha ha.

Trigger Point Therapies Massage Ball & my trusty tennis ball

The Tiger Tail and The Stick

Accuball Mini - hurts so good!

A.R.T (Active Release Therapy)

I am a huge fan of A.R.T.  It can be excruciatingly painful but sometimes I find it's actually better than getting a massage.  Especially for areas like your TFL and hip flexors.  It can really improve your range of motion.  For those of you that don't know what ART is, it's usually performed by either a physiotherapist or a chiropractor and they basically take you through the range of motion of the affected area while massaging the muscle.  Yeah, it generally hurts.  I find that sometimes this is a much better technique for dealing with those really stubborn knots that I get.

Massage Therapy

This should absolutely be a part of your regular regimen.  Not only does a good massage get the kinks out but it also helps increase blood flow and circulation, which in turn aids in recovery.  I'm not talking about going to a spa and getting a relaxing rub down (not that there's anything wrong with that either).  I'm talking about going to an RMT that specializes in sports massage;  someone that has experience with athletes and the issues they face.  A good massage therapist is worth their weight in gold.  Sure if you don't have extended health care benefits, it can be expensive but if you invest the time and energy into training and race fees, then you should do the same with your recovery and care.  If I could afford to have a massage every week, I would but then I'd burn through my coverage in a couple of months.  So I go once a month, maybe twice if my legs have taken a real beating and make nice with my foam roller and other toys the rest of the time. 

Incorporating even a couple of these things into your regular routine should help you lead a relatively injury free existence and that has to be worth something.  And it's definitely easier than sitting on the sidelines and missing your goal race because you're injured. 

Do you incorporate any of these things into your regular training routine? 

What's in your injury maintenance tool box?


Unknown said...

A.R.T is the bees' knees.

Phaedra Kennedy said...

yeah, A.R.T is pretty awesome. The guy I see is a worker of magic.