How You Can Prevent Injury During Race Training
By Melissa Doldron, RMT, SMT (CC), FRCMS
With race season in full swing, those who are training have to now ramp things up, log those training miles, go longer and perhaps faster, too. If you’re one of those people, it’s important to check yourself. Are you assessing your body as you ask it to put in this hard work for you? How’s your recovery game?
Check out these tips to help keep your body healthily and happily running all season long.
Stretching + Mobility
Running can put a lot of pressure on the body, particularly on our muscles and joints. This can lead to decreased mobility, irritation and pain in these areas. A routine of stretching and mobility exercises can both prepare your muscles/joints for action pre-run and help aid in the recovery and maintenance of those same tissues post-run as well. Adding stretching and mobility exercises to your daily routine is crucial to complement your regular training.
When you’re dealing with those little aches of muscle soreness, self-massage is a great way to bring some movement and circulation to your muscles and help decrease tension and pain from the rigors of training. For added for pain relief, use lotion or an oil infused with essential oils and ingredients like arnica, eucalyptus and peppermint (think of a VapoRub-type effect). Rub into achy muscles, like calves, feet and quads and gently massage the areas in a circular motion.
You may also use tools like a foam roller, lacrosse ball or tennis ball to target sore areas of the body. When foam rolling, use your body weight to slowly roll pressure over those areas and feel for any tight spots. Be patient and relaxed, and be sure to practice quality breathing while rolling.
Are you an “all running, all the time”-type runner? Meaning, do you avoid all other types of workouts besides running? While it’s great that you REALLY love running, this approach can often contribute to overuse injuries. Incorporating active recovery into your training will help keep your body moving and grooving for you on those runs, helping it respond to stress and pressure when the training gets tough.
Consider these aspects in your active recovery work: stability and control (balance), mobility and flexibility, and strength (of both muscles and tendons). You can improve all of these areas if you incorporate other activities into your training schedule such as swimming, yoga, pilates, isometrics, and cycling for a more balanced recovery.
Hot and cold contrast therapy is an easy way to provide recovery to your muscles. Contrasting hot and cold helps stimulate the tissue without stress and offers a balanced approach to recovery. Full immersion in a sink/tub or wraps with a heat/ice pack on specific areas are two ways you can approach the contrast treatment. Contrast cycles can look like two minutes of heat followed by one minute of cold, for a few cycles of each. Always finish with the cold.
When To Seek Professional Treatment
You train hard and demand much from your body to perform. Performance care such as physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic or osteopathy treatment can and should be a part of your training cycle for optimum health and performance. Don’t wait for an injury to occur. Take a preventative approach to keep yourself on the road and running strong. Your therapist can use a variety of modalities to help ease tension, recover from hard workouts, improve joint mobility, reduce inflammation, build strength and correct imbalances.
Keep in mind, every runner’s body is different and will respond differently to these modalities. Try them out and see what works for you! Above all else, listen to what your body is telling you, and know when rest is best.
Melissa Doldron,RMT, SMT(cc), FST
Melissa is a registered massage therapist, sport massage therapist, fascial stretch therapist and yoga/mobility coach. She works with the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and treats clients at Rebalance Sports Medicine in Toronto, Canada. A massive sports enthusiast, she loves running, cycling and yoga, and watching baseball is her jam. When not racing or cheering on her friends, you’ll find her traveling to ball parks across North America in search of the perfect game.