Dr. Jason Jared, DC | October 1, 2015 | Lifestyle
Whether you're running in the Chicago marathon on October 11 or training for your first 5K, read on for five simple ways to reduce soreness and speed up your post-race recovery from Dr. Jason Jared, DC, clinic director at TRIFACTIVE Sports Injury + Performance Clinic® and creator of the TRIFACTIVE Method™ for treating and preventing sports injuries. For more information or to book an appointment, call 773-697-4142 or click here.
For more than a decade, my practice has been devoted to preventing and treating sports injuries, and a large percentage of my clients participate in endurance sports like running and triathlons. Every year, we see a similar cycle present itself: Training begins, races are attempted, aches and pains accumulate, and race season ends with athletes feeling broken down. If this sounds like a familiar experience, I have great news for you: There are ways to prevent the breakdown cycle, perform your best in every race, and optimize your enjoyment along the way.
In order to keep our athletes going strong all season, we teach them how to manage the inevitable buildup of physical stress on their bodies, help them understand when the type of pain they are experiencing means they should seek help, build a deeper understanding of their body awareness so that they can effectively manage themselves, and advise them on best practices to do what they love pain free. Here are the TRIFACTIVE® ways to recover post-marathon:
1. Dynamic Stretching
Most of us were taught the reach-and-hold method of stretching from an early age. This is known as static stretching, and research over the last decade has shown that this can create harmful stress where muscles attach to bone, especially when performed on muscles that have not been warmed up. Dynamic stretching, however, provides several benefits before activity, including increased joint lubrication, increased blood flow to muscles, and a better sense of how your body is operating before getting out on the course.
Start your workout with simple, movement-based activities that do not require stressing your joints and muscles before they are warmed up. You can view the TRIFACTIVE® full-body dynamic warm-up routine here. Likewise, take 10 minutes after you finish the race to run through them again as part of an active cool down—your body will thank you in the days that follow.
2. Foam Rolling
You may have seen these cylindrical white or black foam devices at the gym, or you may even have one hiding in a closet at home. Most runners have heard of foam rollers, but I find that very few understand proper technique. The main purpose of foam rolling is to stretch the fascia—the layer of connective tissue between the skin and muscle—so that your muscles can move more fluidly and through their full range of motion.
The key to getting the most out of these self-care devices is consistency. Most people move the roller across their muscles too fast because it is uncomfortable. Instead, move at a slow, steady pace, stopping on areas where you feel increased discomfort. This is how the roller decreases the tension and restrictions in your muscles and soft tissue. It becomes less painful with increased use, and I recommend spending at least 5 minutes per day during training season.
3. Active Cool Down
Just as it has been shown that using dynamic warm-ups before activity reduces your risk of injury and increases your performance, bringing your body back to a resting state after activity also has important benefits. Running, for example, puts repetitive stress on your muscles and joints, increases your cardiovascular output, and increases metabolism taking place in your muscles resulting in lactic acid, which causes the soreness many of you experience for a few days afterward.
In order to shift gears into rest and recovery, spend 15-20 minutes slowing your systems down with a short walk, consciously breathing more deeply and slowly than you were while running. Get on a stationary bike or do some post-workout foam rolling to move the blood and lactic acid around in your muscles. You will find that recovery takes less time, and muscle soreness will dramatically decrease.
4. Sports Massage
Massages can be performed in a lot of different ways, and not all therapists have the training and knowledge to effectively treat athletes. Sports massage is a combination of myofascial, trigger point, and deep tissue work performed on specific areas in order to improve range-of-motion, reduce muscle restrictions, and improve circulation. For example, a sports massage performed on a runner may only involve the low back, gluteals, hips, and/or legs. If you were experiencing some increased pain prior to the marathon, or you want to get back to feeling great quickly after the marathon, schedule a sports massage with an expert massage therapist the week after the race.
5. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
While it’s easy for most runners to be on cloud nine during and immediately following the race due to all the support and fanfare going on around you, don’t forget how much work went into your preparations for this wonderful achievement. Only 5 percent of Americans have run a marathon, so you are going to be part of a fairly exclusive club. Take some time to look back at the fitness gains you made, friendships that developed, and the perseverance you demonstrated each and every week leading up to the big day. You are officially awesome. Congratulations!
TRIFACTIVE Sports Injury + Performance Clinic® provides the most root cause focused, fastest, and complete solution for treating your sports injuries and pain, focusing on shorter treatment plans and a premium client experience. We serve enthusiasts of an active lifestyle who seek the most effective sports physical therapy Chicago has to offer, the area's best deep tissue massage, and athletic performance acceleration. Through our unique, results-centered approach you are empowered to take control of your health and do what it takes to excel. Come experience the difference yourself—and "do what you love pain free.™" 1221 N. LaSalle St., 773-697-4142
Photography courtesy of Dr. Jason Jared; Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images (Header)