Leave a Comment More and more people are hitting the pavement and becoming runners. Everyone has a plan, purchases new shoes and then sets out on their mission. I find most often a good portion of these people will experience injury early on while learning to run. They have problems not due to lack of effort, but lack of knowledge, and ways to take care of their bodies while beginning this new activity in their life. Yes, running is freeing, and natural, and releases endorphins, all of those good things, but let us not forget that running is a repetitive activity on all the tissues in our bodies.
The first thing is to purchase shoes from a running store. Professionals at the local stores live and breathe running and shoes and have a wealth of knowledge. It is important to have someone watch your gait and recommend a shoe that is right for that.
Also if you are going to train for a ½ marathon or marathon you should invest in a tool for self-myofascial release. First of all, what is self- myofascial release? Self- myofascial release or SMR is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat kinetic (movement) dysfunction, restrictions, and pain in the body. The best tool for newly training runners to buy and become comfortable with is using a foam roller. I recommend a foam roller called The Grid. This is a foam roller with a ridge like pattern on the outside and a stiff, hollow hard plastic core. This foam roller is much more firm than most others on the market. Traditional foam rolllers have a flat surface with lots of softer material. The grid has a 3 dimensional surface which allows blood and oxygen flow at the point of pressure. This is the most important part for muscles. As you run and exercise there are a lot of repetitive movement to the muscles, tissues, and tendons in the lower extremity as well as the back. As you overuse theses tissues they start to become hypoxic or lack oxygen and proper blood-flow as well as loose elasticity. To really grasp the benefits of foam rolling a runner must understand the kinetic chain. The kinetic chain is made up of the soft tissue system of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and joints. These all work together as one functional unit to allow movement. All components of the kinetic chain exist interdependently, however, if one segment is not functioning efficiently, then the other components must compensate. This compensation leads to tissue overload, fatigue, faulty movement patterns, and finally initiates the cumulative injury cycle leading to pain. If a runner has muscle tightness after training for a week and does not find a way to release this tension then it becomes restrictive to the normal range of motion on the joint thus leading to faulty movement patterns causing early fatigue and injury. The foam roller gives a runner a chance to take care of this everyday in a very quick and effective way. The Grid foam roller is an effective tool because the foam density on the roller is adequate for most individuals of adult age. Other foam rollers are less dense and buckle with the weight and size of some individuals and they are not able to reach the amount of massage need to work over the muscles and fascia to remove scar tissue adhesions or push in and out fluids into the cellular level. I have found The Grid lasts much longer due to the materials it is made of as well.
When using the foam roller there are key areas to use it on as a runner. The best areas to use the foam roller on are from the hip to the knee, not including bony areas. I recommend patients spend 1-2 minutes on each muscle and 30-45 seconds sitting over areas where they feel more tightness or pain. The key muscles that constantly plague runners are the glutes, more specifically gluteus medius as well as the tensor fascia lata muscle, hamstrings, and the illiotibial band. Basically you want to spend time rolling each day for a short period of time after running from the waistline to the knee on the back, front, and side of your lower extremity. I also advise runners to use the foam roller in their upper back and thoracic spine because these areas can help in respiratory expansion while running. I have seen many patients whom are runners benefit as well as patients with upper or low back pain.There should be no bruising after foam rolling but just a sense of more mobility and range of motion. As you use the roller over time most people find that the sore or painful areas become less irritated and it is easier to run pain free and roll out those areas. In conclusion any foam roller is beneficial to runners as well as people in general. We tend to spend more time in activity and expect to accomplish goals without taking care of our bodies. The foam roller is one of the best tools out there to prevent runners from having injury and ultimately spending more money when injury occurs and they have to visit healthcare providers to recover. I have seen that foam roller use on a regular basis is the answer to taking your own health and well being into your hands, as well as saving time and money in the long run in life and literally the LONG RUN!