Aug 19 2012
If you’ve been running a while, you’ve probably amassed a collection of tools and gadgets related to keeping you on the road and trails. After a few visits to your medical specialists for an injury or two, and you’ve got a good idea of typical aches and pains of running and those that need a return visit. And you may even have picked up a secret or two about what is good to have at home for minor aches and injury intervention/prevention. (As always, get the injuries checked out appropriately when needed).
- Foam roller: Every runner needs a foam roller to help with those minor aches and pains in the muscles when a physical therapist or trainer has discharged you from a rehabilitation program or is not currently necessary. On those days where you have muscles that just won’t loosen up, foam rolling can help loosen the muscles and the myofascial tissue around the area. This will increase the range of motion in the area, help decrease the pain by relaxing the tight areas and help the joints or area perform better. Wondering which kind to choose? Find one that you can tolerate, as some are smooth and some have extra’s (grids) added on. Another good alternative is to try a small hand roller if you are often on the go. A cheap alternative is a tennis ball, although this technique requires some instruction.
***Normal skin sensation is necessary for the next two items:
- Ice pack: The research on cryotherapy or more commonly known as cold therapy or icing is mixed. But sometimes it feels good to put something cold on an injury (time depends on doctors recommendations and how new the pain is) . A great alternative is a bag of peas or a small plastic cup of ice that can be peeled back, for spot icing. Consult with your Doctor/sports medicine specialist about time of use to prevent any injuries with this area.
- Heating pad: On those days that a muscle just won’t loosen up, it helps to heat the area as an adjunct to gentle stretching and warm-up. This can also be relaxing and soothing to tired muscles. Consult with your Doctor/sports medicine specialist about time of use to prevent any injuries.
- Stretching strap: Not everyone is as flexible as the typical gymnast or has a partner that can jump in to help stretch. A stretching strap is a great way to reach those parts that need to be stretched while maintaining proper body form and position for stretching. Most muscles respond better when they are relaxed and this will help you get into the proper position for the muscles to relax. If you have been prescribed a contract-relax protocol, this is an efficient way to perform this.
- Watch with Heart Rate Monitor: The morning resting heart rate is predictive of how well your body is recovered from the previous days workout. A basic heart rate watch (with no strap) is the easiest way to measure this and it’s nice to have a back-up watch if you have a fancier gadget you use for the running. If your heart rate is elevated 3-5 beats or more than the usual morning heart rate, its time to listen to your body and take a rest for the day. This tool is one of the best to use to help ward off a running injury.
I hope this list will be helpful to the new runner. Seek out professional help if you are a new runner and need guidance on injury prevention/rehabilitation.
What are your favorite tools to use for injury prevention?