Tag Archives: recovery

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

5 Parts of a Good Cool Down

Warming up before working out is important and doing a good one can be the difference between a decent workout and a great one. Unfortunately, many people neglect a proper cool down, which can also make or break the next day’s workout.  Just like warming up gets muscles ready to work hard, letting your body cool off afterwards helps muscle start to recover.  Here are five parts of a good cool down plan.

Decrease stress:  Your heart and muscles are working hard during a workout.  Your heart rate is high, your blood vessels are expanded and adrenaline is pumping.  Abruptly dropping the amount of work your body has to do from 10 to 0 can lead to pooling of the blood in those expanded vessels, dizziness, nausea and, in extreme cases, fainting.  A good cool down includes time for your heart rate to slowly return to normal with low intensity activity.

Hydration:  If you worked up a sweat, you’ll need to replace the fluids you lost as soon as you can.  During your cool down, work to quench your thirst by taking in up to 32 ounces of fluid.  Your fluid of choice can be water, chocolate milk or sports drink.  Replenishing your fluids should include electrolytes to replace the salt you sweated out as part of the drink or as an additional tab dropped in.

Food:  Eat within 30 minutes of a workout.  The same way your cool down is a good time to fill back up on fluids, it’s a nice time to plan what’s next on your plate.  Your muscles will be craving protein for rebuilding torn fibers and carbs to fuel the process for both today’s and tomorrow’s workouts.cool down

Mobility:  Doing mobility exercises in an integral part of a good cool down.  Foam rolling, stretching and other drills will all kickstart the recovery process.  Each one will aid in clearing lactic acid from tired muscles, breaking up adhesions and getting the nutrition muscles need to them.  Adding one or more of these activities to your post workout routine will not only help you feel ready for the next day’s session, it will help you perform better, too.

Reflection:  A good cool down will give you time to chat with workout partners, evaluate how the session went and what you improved or need to work on next time.  This can be a perfect time to journal, practice breathing exercises or improve mobility.

Take these five tips with you to your nest workout and have a good cool down.  These simple things will help you feel better before, during and after your future workouts.

Coach Meredith

Everybody Needs a Foam Roller

It’s true.  Every athlete, especially runners, should have at least one foam roller in their workout arsenal.  They might look like misplace pool toys but the ultimate self massage tool is more than just a big foam cylinder.  Here are the basic reasons you’ll want to add one to your workout routine.

First thing first, what exactly does a foam roller get used for?  Foam rolling, of course.  Foam rolling is a form of self massage also know as myofasical release.  The soft tissues that support and protect muscles are called fascia.  During a hard workout these fibers can become inflamed and their ability to function restricted.  That inflammation leads to sticky spots knows as foam rolleradhesions between the muscle fiber and the fascia.  Those adhesions result in decreased blood flow, tight muscles, soreness and pain.  Hitting these inflamed areas with a foam roller, or rolling them, presses on and stretches the fascia, helping to release the adhesions and ease pain.

Using your favorite foam roller after a workout is one of the best ways you can prevent soreness and stiffness while aiding in quicker muscle recovery.  You can also use your it before a workout.  Foam rolling during your warm-up will increase blood flow to muscle groups that are going to work while breaking up any leftover adhesions from the previous day or days.

Not only will 15 minutes with your foam roller get your body back on track for your next workout, it’s one of the best ways to prevent IT Band Syndrome and can improve mobility and lower your risk of injury at the same time.  You can foam roll all of the major muscle groups, being sure to avoid the lower back and any injured areas and hit smaller muscle groups with different tools like Trigger Point Balls and Supernovas.  There are lots of options out there, so play around and find the one that works best for your body and the intensity of your training program.  Any way you decide to hit your hard working muscles, you’ll be saving yourself lost training time and money spent dealing with injuries.

For help getting started with your newest fitness toy, check out our Foam Rolling 101 video and help those tired muscles feel better today!

Coach Meredith

 

5 Reasons to Swim this Summer

Need a break from the heat of training on the road or in a hot gym?  It’s time to go for a swim!  Swimming has lots of benefits that transfer over well into other sports without a loss of fitness or increased risk of injury.  If you live near a beach, river or lake, hop in.  Natural bodies of water provide nice scenery and you might make friends with some wildlife (be sure it’s safe and you’re allowed to be there before diving in).  If you have pool access, head there, grabbing a swim cap and pair of goggles on the way.  Luckily, no matter where you swim, you’ll reap these five benefits.

Spending one hour swimming freestyle in a pool can burn tons of calories.  How many?  Up to 590 calories for a 130 pound person and close to 1,000 for someone who’s 205.  Add swimming against the current and that number can increase quite a bit.  Of course, these numbers vary based on your weight, metabolism, what stroke you’re using and how fast you’re moving but with the water to keep you cool, it beats an hour baking in the sun.

Going for a swim can help build strength.  Water provides 12-14% more resistance than air (unless you have a nasty headwind) while using 2/3 of the body’s muscles with each movement.  Because you use both sides of your body evenly to swim in a straight line it’s also a good tool to help eliminate muscle imbalances and increase flexibility.

If you’re fighting an injury getting in the water is a great way to maintain fitness while letting yourself heal completely.  Not currently injured?  Swimming can reduce your risk of injury in the future.  Because it’s low impact, spending your recovery day in the pool might be better for your bones, muscles and mind than an easy run.  Swimming helps to strengthen joints without pounding them while the horizontal position improves respiratory control and circulation, a key factor in quality healing.

When you decide to go for a swim it doesn’t have to mean staring down at a lane marker for an hour.  Lots of options are available for those who want to explore doing more than racking up the laps.  You can strap on some weights and run in the deep end, try Aqua-Zumba or aqua-aerobics, mix it up by swimming one lap using only your legs and the next only your arms.

Whether you’re swimming in the ocean with a training group or at the local gym with your neighbors, you’re bound to end up with a few swim buddies.  Triathletes, swimmers and recovering runners love to talk about their sport and that can lead to some long lasting friendships.

Skip the sunblock and go for a swim this summer.  You’ll maintain your fitness, stay injury free and avoid all heat related dangers completely.

Coach Meredith

 

Mobility and Flexibility: What’s the Difference

Many athletes confuse the terms mobility and flexibility by believing they’re interchangeable.  They aren’t.  Mobility is not flexibility.  Flexibility is a building block for good mobility but not its only element.  It’s possible to have very flexible hamstrings or quadriceps but lack quality hip mobility.  How?  Flexibility refers to structures in the body that have tension on them (think muscles, tendons and ligaments).  Mobility references the ability of a joint to move through a range of motion properly.

Knowing the difference between these two often confused words is a must for anyone who wants to improve performance and recover from each day’s workout.  Why?  Because if your muscles are filled with adhesions and your joints are impinged (lacking the ability to bend properly), you’ll be putting yourself at risk for injury while also compromising some or all of your efficiency and power.

One of the biggest keys to earning and maintaining proper mobility is to work on it every day.  Many of us sit at desks, in chairs, for extended periods of time.  In addition to unengaged hamstrings and all of the issues associated with poor posture, all this sitting is extra hard on muscles that just completed a morning or lunch hour workout.  By being steadfast in working mobilityon your body for 5-10 minutes two or three times during the work day you’ll help prevent injury and speed healing.  If you wait until you’re suffering with a hot spot, shin splint or pulled muscle, you’ll have a much harder time getting back to the gym than if you had never encountered these problems to begin with.

Want to improve your ability to move safely and fully through the range of motion your fitness routine requires?  Start today!  Check out mobility guru Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD site here and pick up some mobility tools.  Great options for improving your mobility include lacrosse balls, stretching bands and foam rollers.  With each of these in your arsenal you can work to alleviate hot spots, keep muscles sliding smoothly over each other and, after putting in some solid effort, you’ll quickly see the difference it can make on the track, field or court.

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

Recovery 101: Compression Socks

Compression socks are a key element of every successful runner’s wardrobe.  A pair of graduated compression socks, which are tightest at the ankle and gradually lessens to have less pressure at the top of the calf, is an inexpensive way to keep your muscles filled with nutrients, prevent fatigue and speed recovery.  You can also try compression pants, shorts, back braces and arm sleeves for all of your muscle groups but it’s easiest to start small which means socks are the best route.  Here are the reasons you’ll want to head out and grab a pair today.

1.  Compression socks and sleeves provide additional support to muscles and limit movement which will lessen fatigue and improve performance.  Compression will also help clear the lactic acid that results from a hard session clear out of working muscles.  This increase in lactate threshold can ultimately lead to improved performance.

2.  Compression socks will alleviate swelling and inflammation without changing the body’s response.  Unlike ice, compression doesn’t mute the body’s response to muscle damage but encourages it to work.compression socks

3.  The pressure of compression socks will help deoxygenated blood travel back to your heart faster.  Muscles are then filled with blood rich in the oxygen and nutrients needed to help them repair at a faster rate.

4.  Ever fly?  Compression socks or sleeves are a must, especially after a race.  They’ll help keep blood circulating to damaged muscles, legs fresh and your whole body hydrated.

Now that you know slipping on a pair of compression socks can help your body get better faster, head to your local running store or buy some online.  There are a number of brands in a variety of price ranges that offer every color or pattern you could want to match each pair of your workout shorts so finding what you like best can be something fun.  My favorites include BioSKin Calf Skins for workouts and CEP Compression Socks for travel.  Start wearing them after every workout and any time you flight to see just how much your recovery rate can improve.

Coach Meredith

5 Tips to Protect Your Feet

Your feet take the full impact of every step you walk, jog, skip or run.  Working to protect your feet from injury and ailment is one of the best ways to make sure your running season isn’t cut short.  Home to 100+ ligaments, 33 joints and 26 bones, neglecting your feet can, and for many runners eventually does, lead to some seriously not fun problems like athlete’s foot, blisters and plantar fasciitis.  Use these five tips to take care of your feet and stay healthy all season long.

Find the right shoes.  One of the best ways to protect your feet is to wear the correct shoes.  There are thousands of options available, making sure you’ll find the right one might take a little work.  Try different brands and models after you have a special fitting and make sure they’re protect your feetbig enough to let your toes spread out.  Too small shoes lead to black toenails while too narrow shoes mean blisters and too little support can cause IT band pain, plantar fasciitis and potentially stress factures.

Love those shoes.  Keep tabs on the treads and retire them before the materials are completely degraded, typically 300-500 miles.  Know that wear and tear also depends on what type of runner you are.  If you run on roads rather than trails, if you’re heavy or tall, if you stride isn’t smooth, shoes can wear out sooner.

You’ll also want to invest in more than one pair for those rainy days.  Wet shoes are not only heavy, they can lead to blisters, itching and fungus.  Dry wet shoes by removing the insoles and placing them in indirect heat out of the sunlight while you’re out running in another pair.

Wear good socks.  Your feet will sweat.  With 125,000 sweat glands, it’s inevitable.  Wearing good socks will help your feet stay dry and can help prevent fungi like athlete’s foot from developing.  Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking socks are the best way to protect your feet from dampness and always have a clean, dry pair handy.  Dry shoes and dry socks are a good way to prevent foot and toenail fungus from ruining your next run.

Give them a rub down.  Your feet take a beating during any run and a little extra attention protect your feetafter a workout can help them stay happy and healthy.  A self-massage with your hands, a lacrosse ball, a foot roller or even a golf ball is a great way to relax and recover.  You can also try a professional massage or even step up to reflexology.

Strong feet are healthy feet.  I wrote about this here, too, but it can’t be said enough.  Your feet are an integral part of making running a miserable experience or an awesome one.  The stronger they are, the safer they’ll be.  Strengthen and protect your feet by practicing barefoot one leg balance, wearing flat shoes, or no shoes at all, as often as possible.

Use these five tips to protect your feet from fungus, blisters and muscle strains so you can stay on the road all season long.

Coach Meredith

5 Tips for Faster Recovery

Recovery is an important part of working out.  If you aren’t recovering from today’s workout, how are you going to be ready to perform tomorrow?  The right answer is you won’t be.  Your body needs certain things pre-, post and hours after a good sweat session to get back in working order.  Here are five tips from Team FitNice that will help you feel great after today’s workout and fresh for tomorrow’s.

Eat right away.  Workouts burn through energy reserves and if you want your body to build those stores back up, you have to feed it.  Proper refueling will help your tissues recoveryrepair, muscles get stronger and be ready for the next day.  Post workout fueling should include complex carbohydrates and quality protein and occur within 30 minutes of a session.

Drink up.  Drinking fluids is important while you workout, especially for endurance athletes, but it’s likely you’ll need a even more when you’re finished.  Luckily, good old fashioned water is all most people need to help their muscles start the repair process.  Water helps the body get started with recovery by supporting all metabolic functions, most importantly flushing out the things that build up while you exercise and allowing much needed blood and oxygen back into torn up muscles.

Keep moving.  Gentle movement, like walking, stretching or light yoga, is known as active recovery.  Staying in motion promotes circulation, moving nutrients into needy muscles and waste from your workout out.  More nutrients and less waste lead to faster repair, less recoverysoreness and a better next session.

Relax.  Foam roll, stretch, maybe an ice bath if you’re really in need or if you’re lucky, a massage.  Like performing active recovery, massaging muscles promotes circulation and tissue repair.  An additional bonus:  you can do this while you eat that high quality post workout food!

Go to bed.  Sleep is the best time to recover.  When you’re snoozing, the body is producing essential Growth Hormone to repair and build muscles.  Getting plenty of quality sleep can lead to stronger muscles, better performance and more endurance while sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to decreases in performance and increases in recovery times.

Use these tips for faster recovery to feel better after each workout and before your next one!  Have questions?  Email us at Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.

Say Yes to Post Run Stretching

Post run stretching can seem like a drag.  You’ve just finished working out, it’s time to give your body the protein and hydration it needs to recover.  But wait!  It needs stretching to recover, too.  Giving the muscles that just did hard work a chance to relax and get blood moving through them stimulates recovery because it helps bring more oxygen and muscles repairing tools to where they’re needed.

Quadriceps Stretch – Standing on one leg, bring your other heel towards your glutes, it’s OK to use a wall, railing or anything for support if you need it.  Grasp your ankle with your same side post run stretchinghand and bring your heel in toward your glutes without compressing your knee joint.  Be sure to keep your knees next to each other, you are trying to make the quadriceps muscle long, and allowing the knees to separate prevents that from happening.  Feel a stretch through the front of your thigh and hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

Standing Hamstring Stretch – Standing on both feet, place one foot slightly in front of you.  Rest on your heel, with your ankle flexed gently, then bring your shoulders towards your legs with your abs engaged, hands on your hips and a slight bend in the opposite knee.  Hold for 15-20 seconds then slowly return to the starting position and repeat with your other leg.

Calf Stretch – Standing with your hands on a wall, shoulder width apart, lean forward, extending the leg to be stretched back with one foot closer to the wall.  Put the heel of your post run stretchingback foot on the ground and lean forward, into the wall, until you feel a slight stretch through the back of your lower leg.  Hold for 15-20 seconds, then release and repeat on the other side.

IT Band Stretch (Figure 4) – To stretch your IT Band, begin by standing straight then crossing your right ankle just above your left knee, forming the number ‘4’ from your hips down.  Using a wall, railing or whatever is available for support, slowly sink your hips down and back into a seated position until you feel a stretch.  Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds, the slowly rise, regain balance standing straight and switch sides.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Begin in a lunge position on the ground.  With your right knee bent in front of you, and the left knee on the ground, push your hips forward until you feel a gentle pull through your hip and quad.  To get an even greater stretch, reach your arms high over your head.  Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Be sure to check out our YouTube video here for demonstrations of post run stretching.

Have questions about your post run stretching routine?  Want to mix it up?  Ask Team FitNice!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the box below.