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Categorized as: Recovery

Aching Feet? Try this!

Aching Feet? One of our runners had been experiencing foot soreness following our long run last Saturday. Many of us have been there and it is not fun.

Our feet are complicated – a human foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body! So, there’s a lot going on in our feet, and since we can’t run or walk without them, we definitely need to take care of them.

Here are three things you can do to help your feet recover. And it’s not just from a long run, it can be from a long run, an 8 hour day of working on your feet or walking the kids through the amusement park or dancing at the club till the crack of dawn.

1. STRETCH your feet. But don’t stop the evening after the long run, keep doing it. Stretch your feet several times a week. I love using golf balls to roll under my feet, but there are lots of other effective stretches. Here’s a link to 5 great ones:http://beta.active.com/fitness/Articles/5-Foot-Stretches-to-Prevent-Injuries

2. ICE your feet. Just get a tub of ice water and dunk them in for about 10 minutes. You can do this as often as you can tolerate. This will minimize any swelling that can sometimes occur after a long run and also provide temporary pain relief.

3. ELEVATE. While you know I’m a huge proponent of moving around after a long run, sometimes you just need to kick back and take a load off. So, ideally the evening after your long run, you would stretch your feet again (you stretched them immediately after your run, right , then ice them and then elevate them. The combination of these things will help you recover more quickly.

Got questions? Contact me! 

Run On! Coach Jen

I’m Injured, Now What???

I’M INJURED, NOW WHAT?

In the course of training for events such as marathons and triathlons, injuries of various natures are bound to occur.  The question often asked is, “Should I continue my training?”  The answer is not simple.

Step 1: Self Evaluation

Perform a self-evaluation to determine the cause of the injury.  Was it an overuse injury (training too hard and/or too much)? Was it an impact or fall causing a sprain or strain? A pulled muscle?

Once you have determined the source of the injury, determine the severity.  Does it hurt all the time? Or, does it slowly manifest itself during training (possible overuse injury)? Is it limited to a particular limb or joint, or is it something more debilitating (resulting from a fall)?

Step 2: Seek Professional Help

If it is an overuse injury, visit a masseuse, neuromuscular therapist, or chiropractor. Additionally, seek the advice of a coach or trainer who has experience in the field.  If it is a sprain or break, what does your doctor advise?

Step 3: Develop a Recovery Plan

Most injuries heal themselves with time and rest.  Often times, you can speed the process with stretching and ice or heat, aided with over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.

How close is the event for which you are training?  Often we can get frenzied about this timeline, but in most cases taking 1-2 weeks off from training will not affect your current fitness level. You can take time off and still be OK for your big day.

As you re-introduce training, remind yourself that you were just injured.  A conservative approach of slowly adding in workouts will go much farther than jumping back in as if nothing happened, regardless of how good you feel.  Rule of thumb: The amount of time out is the amount of time you should give yourself to re-acclimate to training. For example, if you were out one week, give yourself a minimum of one week to re-adjust.

The Big Picture

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we are forced to sit out events that we may have paid for in advance.  This is both unfortunate and frustrating. It’s tough to make the decision NOT to race, but it’s the best regarding your health and well-being. The big picture is your long term health and well-being – far more important than participating in an event when you are at a fraction of your best and risking further injury.

The Importance of Recovery

As athletes, we often push to our limits when we workout thinking that this is where we can make the most fitness gains.  While the hard work does pay off, it is also important to focus on the post-workout recovery.

Stretch

Studies have shown that stretching post-workout can decrease recovery time, as well as the risk of injury, and can increase flexibility and range of motion.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretches should be held for a minimum of 30 seconds, and no longer than 2 minutes. It is important to stretch immediately following a workout, while the muscles are still warm.  Use slow and steady application of pressure (static stretching) versus short, extreme, bouncing movements.  Be sure to control your breathing, and allow the stretch to deepen as you exhale.

Refuel

During exercise, the body utilizes glycogen stores as fuel.  What is glycogen? Glycogen is composed of mostly carbohydrates, and is stored within muscle tissue as an immediate, reserve fuel during exercise lasting longer than 45 minutes. It is important to replace these carbohydrates within 30 minutes to 2 hours post workout to maximize recovery.  It is during this period when glycogen replenishment occurs at roughly 50% above the normal rate. Anything between 2 and 4 hours will slowly taper to normal level of glycogen replacement.

So how do we replenish our glycogen stores?  Since many athletes have little or no appetite following workouts, it is wise to use liquids.  While glycogen is primarily carbohydrate in its makeup, most studies suggest that athletes replenish with a mix of carbohydrate and protein.  This can be done in various manners, however, low fat chocolate milk, with its mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat, is a favorite among many endurance athletes.  For those who are lactose intolerant, there is a lactose free alternative, Mootopia, available at HEB.

How much you need to replenish can be calculated using your bodyweight in kilograms. For every one kilogram of body mass, consume 0.4 grams of protein, and 0.8 grams of carbohydrate.

Rest

Sleep is one of the most often ignored tools of recovery.  Most studies agree that most people need 6-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.  A study conducted on college runners getting an extra hour or more of sleep a night found  significant improvement in performance while their training levels stayed the same. As athletes leading busy lives, it is easy to go to bed late and get up early.  This robs the body of its most important recovery tool.  During sleep, the body releases Human Growth Hormone which helps repair broken muscle tissue.  It is in sleep that our muscles grow stronger, not during the workouts!  Napping can be used as a supplement to insufficient sleep, and even a nap of 20 minutes can do wonders for your energy levels during the day.

Ice

Probably the most avoided of recovery tools, ice has amazing rehabilitative power.  Many elite and professional athletes testify to the power of ice water or cold water baths in decreasing recovery time, joint and muscle inflammation, and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.  It may sound crazy, but it works!  A five minute soak of the legs in cold/ice water after long run or workout will reduce the swelling in the knees, hips and ankles, as well as muscle inflammation.  Ice can also be applied directly to any sore joints or muscles, such as the knees or low back.

Compression

We’ve all seen the athlete wearing knee high socks while out on a run, and many of us think to ourselves, “Hey buddy, the ‘70’s called, and they want their socks back!” Well, as it turns out, the latest fashion craze to hit endurance sports is more than just a fad.  Compression is a real and effective tool for recovery.  Compression on skeletal muscle increases blood flow, thereby speeding recovery.  Some athletes swear that wearing compression during exercise enhances their performance.  This may be a placebo effect, but know that compression does work after exercise.  There are various brands and apparel available, from compression socks and calf sleeves, to full body compression suits, so it important for each athlete to experiment for one’s self.

Elevation

Another useful tool to help reduce inflammation is elevation. It is often used along with the various other forms of recovery.  For runners, laying on your back, with pillows or a box propping your legs at a 90 degree angle often feels good and can help relieve some stress from our primary source of locomotion.



Recovery Workouts

Recovery workouts are often done the day following a long or hard workout.  Recovery workouts are usually done at a very easy pace for a short period of time.  The benefit of a recovery workout is that it helps increase blood flow to the muscle, allowing for removal of waste product and delivery of oxygen and glucose, to facilitate muscle recovery.  Swimming can be a great recovery tool for runners.  The cool water will help reduce muscle and joint inflammation, while the slow gentle movements and zero impact will help with muscle recovery.

Massage

Massage is a great tool to release tension from hard to reach muscles.  There are a variety of massage methods, and they must employ the massage therapists using his/her hands on bare skin.  An alternative is self massage, which can be done with a variety of tools such as tennis balls, foam rollers, rolling pins, and your own hands.

You can use one or all of these tools to help in your recovery.  Experiment and find the one that is right for you!