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
2x20 sec planks
15 min stretching
50 min elliptical
3x20 sec planks
1x30 sec plank
10 min stretching
What do you think of the NCAA Tournament brackets?