Often the only thing that gets patients to finally call their doctor or come to a physical therapist is pain. Wether it’s acute or chronic, your body is telling you something is not right. Often this pain starts limiting you from doing the things you love or even just completing simple daily tasks. Getting to the root of your pain is the key to resolving it completely.
I’m all about staying healthy, and if i have learned anything over my 20 year running career it’s that staying healthy does require some self- maintenance. When I was running professionally, I often got weekly massages because running 100+ miles a week takes it’s toll. Even when I would feel good, the therapist would find things I didn’t know were brewing. Any athlete or avid exerciser knows how important consistency is, and missing time off for an injury is just frustrating.
I admit that one reason I love training on the Monterey Peninsula is because the weather is perfect for running. But being a North Carolinian, I do love the humidity, and I make lots of east coast trips where you have to run in stifling heat and feel like your head is going to explode.
There are so many things out there for recovery, it’s easy to get over-whelmed. I admit the roller is not my go-to tool mainly because any time I sit on the floor, my 4 year old decides to sit on me. But, doing some sort of stretching or body work after you have run or worked out is a good thing for muscle fiber health. Rolling has not been proven to give any lasting effects more than a few hours afterwards, but combined with some active movements or trigger point pressure, it’s been shown to be beneficial. It’s probably even best to cut your run a few minutes short if you are pressed for time and allow a few minutes of stretched to elongate the muscles that are prone to tightness so you will feel better on your next run or workout.
Your quadriceps (front thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh) certainly take a beating with any workout. Foam rolling is a great way to address these using your body weight. You can literally roll on it to work these muscles, stopping at any tender spots or trigger points and holding at least 30 seconds. The breathing is important, so take at least 2 deep breaths in and out slowly to send a signal to your brain to relax.
Also, roll with some active movements. For instance, in the below photo I am rolling my adductor (inner thigh) muscles. The longest one (Adductor Magnus) crosses the knee, so adding some knee bending and straightening while holding in the same spot is good for increasing tissue and fascial glide.
If you don’t work your mobility on a daily basis you will slowly loose it. So what, you say? Well, tight hip flexors mean your stride is shorter and can alter your alignment leading to back pain, tight pectoralis muscles (chest muscles) mean your posture changes and your shoulder joint is not as efficient, tight calves effect your ankle mobility and ability to squat to name a few. So, take the time to do a few minutes a day of something. Your body will thank you by feeling better on your next workout. I generally do a few minutes after a run, then about 10-15 minutes before bed. What is your favorite recovery tool?