Stop, Drop, and Roll: Post-Run Work
Stop, drop, and roll. We all remember the age-old mantra from elementary school for fire-prevention. Clearly enough idiots had caught fire and decided to run around screaming, feeding oxygen to the very fire that was killing them- hence, children are encouraged not to follow in their footsteps (literally and figuratively!). As it turns out, that same advice seems to have some credence when it comes to running as well.
Whether you felt like you were on fire during your last run or not, you no doubt thought about doing some stretching when you returned home. If you are anything like me, thinking doesn’t always mean doing 🙂 So often, after a long run, I’ll get home, find some chocolate milk (insert whichever recovery nutrition you prefer), and want nothing more than to relax- on the floor, in the bed, in a hot shower. Before I know it, I’ll have completely forgotten about the important final maintenance step- stretching and rolling.
However, I’m trying to “roll over” a new leaf, and a new study released this month provides even more evidence concerning the benefits of massage post-run. Popular knowledge has always told us that massaging an area releases built-up lactic acid in your muscles, and while that might not actually be the case, evidence now suggests that it does reduce inflammation and increase the repair of muscle cells. Now, as much as all of us would love to have an in-house massage-therapist, the feasibility for such extravagance is usually not there. Enter the foam roller.
Many runners are well aware of the impending evil that is the foam roller. Rolling out your IT band is probably listed somewhere in the CIA’s handbook on torture techniques, in fact. I’m sure that has nothing to do with why I’m so quick to conveniently forget to use it though. However, for many runners, this form of massage continues to prove useful, and now we have even more evidence as to why. For those of you looking for techniques, Running Times has a great article on simple foam roller exercises. Awhile ago, I also picked up the Pro-Tec Roller Massager, which works great for more pin-pointed massage. You can think of it as a condensed foam-roller, which also means the wonderful, healing pain you feel is condensed!
So, as we increase our frequency and distances with the emergence of spring, let’s try to make a commitment to end every run with the words of our elementary school teacher ringing in our ears- stop, drop, and roll!