Monday, March 15, 2010

Hot To Work It Out After The Workout

Saturday I wrote about the necessity of rest days as part of a training or general fitness plan. A good strategy for getting the mmost out of rest days and even those days that you do workout, is to use a tool or two that will help relieve any aches, pains or tightness that you might be experiencing. here is a rundown of a few I find most helpful:

1. The Stick: Also known as a runner's best friend! The stick is a long plastic rod with several spindles that roll independently of each other as it's moved up and down along leg muscles. The stick helps to prepare muscles, when used prior to a workout and also helps repair the muscles after intense activity. It reduces muscle soreness and stiffness, and disperse lactic acid that can cause pain. Using the stick can also help increase flexibility and endurance. The user decides how much pressure to use, and while it is beneficial to use on all leg muscles, do not use it directly on the shin bone. There are multiple lengths available. While training for the marathon last year, Gracela and I were both known to have the stick in our offices since they are very portable. I also packed it in my carry-on for one particular trip to Michigan. While I did receive a few odd looks from TSA officials, it did make it through both LGA and Detroit airports!

2. Foam Roller: Used much like the stick, and for the same reasons, this light weight yet larger tool needs to be used on the floor to get the full effect. it provides more pressure the the stick and helps to break up scar-tissue cause by intense activity and lots of running. Essentially, they prevent and eliminate knots in muscles.

3. Tennis Ball: This is a great, easy way to ease back tightness. Either lay on the floor or use a wall and place the tennis ball between the back and floor or wall so pressure is applied using body weight. Either keep pressure on one particular bothersome spot or move slowly in a circular or side to side motion to massage the area. The ball can also be used for the hips but it should not be applied directly to the spine.

4. Golf Ball: similar to a tennis ball, the golf ball is perfect to use to massage and relieve tension in the foot.

5. The Ice Bath: Not necessarily a tool, but definitely a necessity for endurance athletes. As soon after finishing a long run as possible, fill a tub with cold water, add in several bags of ice and take the plunge. Ice baths reduce swelling and tissue breakdown, thus speeding recovery. They also help to increase blood flow to the legs thus pushing out harmful build up in the blood from the extended run. The quick recovery is worth the 10-15 minutes of extreme cold. I found it helpful to turn on some good music, grab a book, maybe a cup of tea and keep my mind off the fact that I was submerged in ice. While it is useful to sit with feet and calves in a bucket of ice, it is optimal to be in a tub of water that completely covers the entire leg from hip to toes.

Workout Stats -
6m run, 7.5m bike (stationary)
3x10 ea bicep curls, upright row
100 crunches
2x20 sec planks
15 min stretching
foam roller

50 min elliptical
125 crunches
3x20 sec planks
1x30 sec plank
10 min stretching
stick therapy

What do you think of the NCAA Tournament brackets?


Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

Since I'm just starting to get into running, I'm completely unfamiliar with most of this stuff. I appreciate you sharing the information!

When you say a "long run," what do you usually have in mind? For example, my long run for this week is 7 miles. For many runners, that's a short run! Should I look into an ice bath or a foam roller for recovery after a run that distance? Or should I wait until my long runs are closer to 10 miles? (Sorry, I'm still a bit clueless!)

Salt said...

I'm not an avid runner (a long run for me is a 5k), but I do think that these tools could work for me after some of my gym workouts. This post is great and very informative!

As far as the NCAA tourney is concerned...I wish I knew anything about basketball. I cheer for UNC because I have family that went there and Maryland because I live in Maryland when they are on, but my college lacked any decent sports, so I usually just stick to pro (football/baseball/hockey).

Robyn said...

I have to admit I've never tried any of these post-workout workouts. I'm so bad at stretching, etc after but I'm curious about this ice bath.

Anonymous said...

looooove the stick! I have the travel one in my work bag! I'm feeling pretty good about the NCAA tournament this year. As a massive KU fan I do feel that Kentucky has a pretty easy road though...

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

I have a stick, but rarely use it...thanks for the reminder

Matt said...

I've heard a few people swear by the stick...might have to try it myself sometime.

Cassie said...

I am REALLY REALLY upset that the Hokies didn't make it. Almost don't want to do a bracket now in protest! :)

Running Through Phoenix said...

I LIVE for my foam roller, but the stick is still my wife's rolling pin.

The ice bath is in my future--hopefully my far far far ahead future!

Julie said...

LOVE my foam roller (aka - foam torture device). As for the ice bath, we have a love-hate relationship. Our coaches said to do it after any run over 15 miles. i found it particularly helpful to get into the tub with cold water first before adding the ice. still hurts, but loud music and warm coffee helped to ease the teeth chattering until the ice was melted. and it definitely helped with recovery!