BY GERMAN MEDRAZO
This week I want to talk about injury prevention. As we run more times per week and longer distances each week fatigue accumulates in our bodies. This happens because we are unable to flush out waste products like excess of lactic acid build up thorn micro fibers that cause increased tightness in our muscles and joints. Unfortunately the cause is not recovering enough between efforts (namely our training runs).
So one might say: If those efforts cause that tension why not allow more time to recover? And the answer is: we need those efforts to teach our bodies to adapt quicker and recover faster so we can run more, because the demands of a 26.2 mile run are monumental to say the least!
Now that we’ve established the need to increase gradually both distance and effort at the expense of shorter recovery let’s now talk about how to accelerate the recovery time!
Number one in my list of most beneficial and least favorite things to do is an ice bath! The cold temperature helps reduce swelling and restores our body’s ability to heal it’s self. One of the most beneficial aspects of cold theraphy, like ice baths, is that it helps restore micro trauma in our muscles caused by repeatedly pounding the ground with every step. Remember here how we talked about the importance of running on softer terrain! Cold theraphy helps to increase blood circulation when we step out, that in turn will flush lactic acid out quicker and also other waste products out of our bodies. Ice baths should be taken after both our long runs and our hard interval runs. And you don’t need to submerge in ice!!! Just fill 1/8 of your bath tub with cold water and add a small bag of ice and that is more than enough, as you tolerate more you can add more ice your goal is a temperature of about 55 degrees. Although some athletes recommend temperatures lower than that, some health care professionals consider prolonged exposures to temperatures lower than 50 degrees to be dangerous. And honestly I’ve never been able to handle more than that! Stay there for no more than 10 minutes, but build it gradually! Start with 3 min and build it up to 5 then 8 but no more than 10 min. This gradual build up should happen over a period of about 8 weeks.
Massage therapy! This is so important to help relieve the tension, soften up tight muscles and tendons, increase blood flow and flush out the microfibers that are being replaced by stronger ones. The trick is finding a good massage therapist that understands the needs of athletes, and that understands that we need a massage every week! So stay away from the super expensive therapists that you can only afford once a moth and look for one that you can afford and visit once a week. There are many good ones; interview them and make sure they know how to work with runners, and enjoy the best recovery you can buy!
As important or more is a good chiropractor, because keeping your spine aligned helps you stay strong and balanced, as soon as you become unbalanced aches and pains appear almost immediately and injuries follow. Also repeated pounding compresses the spine, and these adjustments help you keep your spine from compressing. We are blessed here in the Valley to have really good Chiropractors, ask around and make sure you choose one that has helped athletes and specially runners, DON’T wait until you’re injured to see the doctor, schedule monthly adjustments to keep your spine healthy!
A foam roller to use on the days you can’t go to massage is a runner’s best friend! Use it regularly! Buy one with a hard core, and learn how to use it, you can stop by the shop for advice or look it up on youtube. My favorite by far is the TrigerPoint TPTherapy foam roller.
And last but not least is the regular practice of a stretching routine or yoga class, and a session of strength training, preferably functional strengthening once or twice a week!
If you practice these things your chances of getting injured will be reduced significantly. And chances of success on your next race exponentially increased.
Remember to stay safe and keep on smiling during your runs.