Tag Archives: foam rolling

5 Keys to Marathon Recovery

Figuring out the best path to a complete marathon recovery is challenging.  Your body is torn up.  Your mind is fried.  Getting up and moving, let alone taking a lap around the track, is the last thing you’re looking forward to. but how you recover can have a huge impact on when marathon recoveryyou’re ready to start training again.  Here are five ways to make sure your marathon recovery helps you get back to business as soon as you want.

Keep moving.  One of the most important aspects of marathon recovery is movement.  This doesn’t mean a tough track workout two days later or taking off for another race.  Giving muscles some easy work to do the day after beating then up has been shown to help speed recovery but it has to be just that, easy.  A very slow jog, air squats, a few push-ups, sit-ups and 30 minutes of yoga works wonders.

Mobilize.  Just getting out there are easy jogging a mile or two won’t get the job done.  You need to work tired and abused joints through a full range of motion to keep fluids moving around.  This is how you make sure muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones get the blood, oxygen and nutrients they need to repair while clearing out the debris from when they got damaged.  Foam rollers, bands, softballs and a lacrosse ball are all part of a well built marathon recovery kit.

Eat up.  You definitely burned a ton of calories covering all of those miles.  Replacing them and giving your body the nutrients it needs to repair damaged muscles is paramount.  Replenish fluids with sports drinks or salted water as soon as you cross the finish line.  When your tummy is ready, chow down on calorie loaded like bananas and yogurt.  Put your feet up and rest a bit until you’ve processed those and can head for pizza and ice cream.marathon recovery

Sleep.  Getting an adequate amount of sleep will help you recover faster than just about anything else.  It can be tough to shut down after a big race so try taking a warm bath, meditating and turning off all electronic devices.  Here’s a great piece on how a solid night’s shut eye can make a big difference in your marathon recovery.

Go easy on the celebration.  Yes, those free beers taste delicious but they’re just going to cause more trouble for your already hostile body.  Dehydrated muscles aren’t aching to lose more water.  Even though there are carbs in there, make sure you mix in plenty of other fluids with those post race party beers.  A long walk or standing around for a little bit won’t do any harm but you do want to get off your feet for a few hours as soon as you can to start the healing process.

If there are other marathon recovery traditions you swear by, like ice baths and massages, stick with them.  Just make sure you don’t neglect these key elements of getting your body ready to go back to work.

Coach Meredith

Recovery 101: Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a must do each and every day for any athlete who’s looking to recover from a workout as quickly, efficiently and fully as possible.  In addition to the compression socks covered in the previous Recovery 101 post, foam rolling can help your body bounce back from a foam rollingtough session in many ways.

Foam rolling is a type of self myofascial release or self massage.  It works by breaking up adhesions created in the muscles during periods of hard work.  These adhesions form between muscle fibers to cause stiffness and soreness while simultaneously preventing blood, oxygen and other important nutrients from reaching the very muscles they’re needed to help repair.  Think of them like the hooks on Velcro.  When they’re smushed together nothing can move very easily.  Break them apart and everything slides around much better.

Foam rolling before a workout will help get tissues loose, improve circulation and get muscles ready to work by increasing the range of motion around a joint.  With the ability to foam roll any muscle group from your feet to your shoulders, it’s a warm-up that works for every workout you ever do.  After a workout, foam rolling can help prevent soreness and stiffness by limiting foam rollingthe formation of adhesions.  Muscle that’s repairing itself starts right away and working over it with a roller can help that new muscle lay down the right way.

No matter when you’re rocking out with the foam roller, make sure you keep it slow and work the entire length of the tissue group.  Start with a soft roller and as you get used to the activity, step up to firmer and differently shaped rollers.  One with grooves or bumps will reach deeper into muscles while ball sized rollers can fit into small pockets at the feet, hips and shoulders.

Check out this video to learn a few valuable foam rolling techniques and be sure to include them after each and every workout.

Coach Meredith

Foam Rolling Mistakes to Avoid

Foam rolling is awesome.  There are tons of good reasons to include a foam rolling session in your post workout routine on a daily basis.  In all its glory, foam rolling can relieve pain, relax muscles and be the cheapest massage around but if its done improperly, foam rolling can wreak havoc on your body.

Rolling where it hurts.  Using a foam roller on areas that are already inflamed might increase inflammation and your risk of injury.  One muscle hurts because an imbalance, tension or a knot in another place is pulling it out of position.  Be sure to roll muscles surrounding painful spots with big sweeping motions before going after the knots.foam rolling

Using the roller on your lower back.  Rolling your lower back can cause the muscles around your spine to contract in an effort to protect it.  This has the ability to throw your spine out of alignment and put unnecessary pressure on organs like the kidneys.  Use the foam roller along the length of your rib cage but skip the area between your last rib and your hips.

Putting intensity first.  Much like other fitness, wellness and eating habits, an activity needs to be done regularly to be as effective as possible.  While you might not feel sore on a daily basis, rolling before and after every workout is a surefire way to help keep injuries at bay.  Roll slowly so muscles can respond to the stimulus and after easing over the entire area, concentrate on painful spots.

Holding your breath.  Foam rolling can be painful and one wonderful, natural way to manage pain is to breathe.  Holding your breath prevents much needed oxygen and blood from flowing into muscles that desperately want to recover from a hard workout.  Holding your breath can also lead to poor posture which makes rolling less effective and can do more harm than good.

Want to foam roll properly?  Check out this video, this blog, email us at Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

4 Reasons You Need a Foam Roller

Foam rolling is one of most runners’ favorite post-run activities and Team FitNice can’t get enough.  Almost every gym is home to at least one or two and it’s no surprise why.  Foam rollings uses the technique of self myofascial release, or self massage, to relax overactive muscles.  Almost every major muscle in the body can be foam rolled, making it a wonderful activity to include in your daily fitness routine.  Here are five reasons you need to start using a foam roller today:

Foam rolling will help prevent injuries.  By limiting the amount of fascia that can build up in muscles and make them tight, you’ll find fewer knots.  Muscle knots can quickly turn into injury trigger points and that’s bad news.  Foam roll every day to keep muscles from knotting up and stay injury free.foam roller

You can improve circulation with a foam roller.  The pressure put on blood vessels and veins during the process of foam rolling physically pushes blood through the body.  This temporary increase in blood flow returns to normal when pressure is released, but has already provided the benefit of cleaning out debris while bringing much needed nutrients to strained muscles.  Stimulating circulation can have a refreshing effect and means happier muscles.

Foam rolling can ease back pain.  Sitting in an office chair all day puts a surprising amount of stress on the body.  Hamstrings can tighten, hip flexors can get short and low back pain can crop up.  Stretching and foam rolling the hamstrings, IT Band and hip flexors every day will help alleviate current low back pain while keeping future low back pain at bay.

Use a foam roller to aid with flexibility.  Loose connective tissue helps prevent injuries by increasing range of motion and lessening stiffness.  Put those two things together and they add up to a more flexible body, especially in muscles that are foam rolled on a daily basis.  Increased flexibility and mobility mean your can body move through the range of motion required for exercises with less difficulty and that leads to fewer injuries.

Doesn’t that sound appealing?  There is a wide variety of foam rollers out there, some are hard while others are soft, certain models have bumps and grooves but others are completely smooth.  It’s always a great idea to try a few different models before you settle on one to take home, and when you do, remember that it’s most effective when used regularly, not only when you’re feeling extra sore or tight.

Stay tuned for next week’s post:  Foam Rolling Mistakes to Avoid and check out this video for help getting started with your new foam roller.

Have questions about your post workout routine or how to add foam rolling into your program?  Ask us!  Send an email to Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

Strong Hips for Runners

Hip strength is a key element of any activity, and is an especially important part of running, strength training and playing golf.  Tight hip flexors and weak stabilizing muscles, like your glutes, can lead to runner’s knee, Illiotibal band syndrome (ITBS) and lower back issues.  Improving strength and mobility will save you from injury and prevent being forced to take time off.  Here are some exercises and stretches that will help prevent injury by strengthening and loosening your hard working hips.  Here are strength exercises and stretches that will get ready to go.

Side Step:  Wrap a resistance band flat around both ankles just above the ankle bone.  With your feet shoulder-width apart, drop into a squatting position.  Staying in the squat position, take 10 lateral (sideways) steps, being sure to keep hips level and go in both directions.  Do three or four sets to help strengthen hip abductors.

Clamshell:  Lie on your side with legs, ankles and knees together.  Bend your knees slightly and rest your head on an outstretched arm.  Keeping your feet together, slowly open and close your knees like a clamshell.  You can add a resistance band wrapped flat around your mid thighs to increase difficulty and do three to four sets of 10 reps on each side to strengthen your gluteus medius.

Foam Rolling:  Foam rolling has been featured in FitNicePT’s blog before (Basics of Foam Rolling) and is a great way to keep your hips loose.  To target hips with the roller, massage your quadriceps and adductors by lying perpendicular to the roller and rolling from the top of the knee to the just below your hip.  Be sure to get your IT band while you’re there by lying on your side, crossing your top leg over your bottom leg, placing your foot flat on the floor and rolling from just below the hip to right above the knee.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch:  Kneel on your right knee with your right shin and foot against a bench, box or wall.  Keep your left knee in line with your left foot as you bring it out onto the floor in front if you.  Raise your shoulders then activate your glutes and core as you push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your right quadriceps.  Hold for at least 30 seconds on both sides.

Have questions about making your hips stronger or stretching them out?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com today.

Dealing with Soreness

Everyone has workouts they know are going to slow them down the next day.  Being sore comes with involvement in any fitness activity, and can really dampen your enthusiasm.  If you’ve taken some time off or are starting something new, it’s a good idea to plan for the stiff, sore body you’ll be stuck in for the next few days, and best way to deal with muscle soreness is to prepare for it.  Leave time in your day for stretching or schedule a massage when you know you are going to push the limits of your muscles.

The most important thing to know is that if you’re sore, it means you are getting stronger!  During your workout, you strained those aching muscles by putting tiny little tears in them.  The effort of your body to repair these small rips causes the inflammation that leads to muscle soreness.  It’s also nice to know that it won’t last forever because each activity you do will lead to less and less muscle damage as your body adjusts to the new demands you place on it.  Keeping your routine mixed up is a great way to keep muscles working and stop them from being achy and sore.

When you are achy and sore, most people head straight to the medicine cabinet.  While taking ibuprofen or aspirin might ease pain and reduce swelling, it also slows the healing process.  Your favorite pain reliever does this by impeding the ability of bones, ligaments, and tendons to heal and, if taken frequently, can also cause stomach and liver problems.  If you try taking one of these medications before a workout to prevent soreness, you’re actually hurting yourself more than helping.  The response of your body to training will lessen and, since taking these types of drugs has been shown to cause an increase in inflammation, you can end up in a more painful situation than you intended.

The best way to prevent soreness is to stretch out when you’re finished with your session.  Five minutes spent lengthening those hard working muscles can ward off a day spent stiff and sore.  After stretching, you also need to make sure your body has all the tools it needs to repair the damaged muscles, so get your protein and rehydrate within 30 minutes of working out.  You can also use heat, ice and massage as a way to ward off some post workout suffering.  Using heat will increase blood and oxygen flow to the damaged area and help clean out any chemicals stuck in there.  Massage breaks up the adhesions created during a tough session and, like heat, allows increased blood flow and nutrients to get where they need so your muscles are repaired.  Ice can ease pain and will decrease swelling, so ice for twenty minutes four times a day to aid in healing.

Have questions?  Need a stretching routine?  Ask us!  Info@FitNicePT.com

Good for You Foam Rolling

Most everyone has seen the chopped up pool noodles propped up on the wall by the stretching and ab work areas at the gym.  Even though they look like pool toys, foam rollers are a staple for many athletes, fitness enthusiasts and runners.  Foam rolling relaxes and treats sore muscles in a form of self-massage, improving circulation and increasing flexibility.  Cheaper than massages, this budget conscious option can be executed in as little as ten minutes.

Foam rolling works muscles by using a technique called myofascial release.  Fascia are the soft tissues that give muscles support and protection.  When these become restricted or inflamed from inactivity, overuse, or training, the resulting adhesions, occurring between the fascia and the muscle they protect, causes pain, tightness and a decrease in blood flow.  Rolling these tight muscles relieves this strain by pressing on and stretching the fascia to relax the adhesive tissues.  Helping to keep muscles loose, myofascial release is a key part of injury prevention.

Foam rolling helps prevent injury when used as part of a workout, and can be done as part of both warm-up and cool down.  During warm-up, a short rolling session will help increase circulation to the desired muscles, preparing them for some hard work.  After your workout, rolling stretches, massages and relaxes those same muscles after they were shortened and tightened by exercise.  Avoiding any torn muscles, you can roll and relax most major muscle groups, including quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, lats and traps.  Most runners swear by the foam roller for helping them avoid IT Band syndrome and aiding in recovery from a developing injury with deep tissue massage at very low cost.  Smaller muscles, like the chest and psoas, are better reached with lacrosse, tennis or other dense, weighted ball.

You can pick up a basic foam roller for about twenty dollars anywhere that sells fitness equipment, Dick’s and Target both carry them.  There are lots of different flavors of foam rollers available, including your choice of color to fancy trigger point styles, so you should try each kind and find what you like best.  Different densities exist as well, with white foam rollers typically being softer than blue or black rollers, so know that the harder the roller is, the more intense the stretch is going to be.

With all the benefits of foam rolling, you have no excuse for not giving it a shot!