Recently, Runners World website posted a nice article on resolutions from several professional runners on their goals for 2014
It’s clear in nearly all of their goals, it’s to stay healthy. Let’s face it, if you are not at 100%, your best performances will not happen. Common recommendations for healthy training include tracking shoe wear, stretching, and becoming more popular is the use of foam rollers and other variations. These are all great and economical ways to treat your muscles.
There are many websites and articles on this. My only recommendation, which sounds silly, but I see it happen often, is to choose shoes that fit your mechanics and training environment. I often see people choose shoes based on color (yikes!). For the veteran runner, this is something you likely do anyway. Understand there is always give and take. A stiff shoe has its benefits and its consequences. A lightweight trainer has it’s own benefits and consequences. Do your research! I highly recommend reading http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/gaitguys to learn more about how feet work in terms of running.
I did my master’s thesis on warm-up and stretching on athletes. Here is what I can tell you:
- a dynamic warm-up does lead to improvements in power and explosive strength. In my study, this benefit lasted less than 15 minutes. What this means is that unless you do your dynamic warm-up on the starting line, it will likely not have the effects written about. The reasons why this occurs are fairly complicated, and are suited for a physiology-based audience. Email me if you are really curious.
- If you can’t touch your toes, chances are the rest of your body doesn’t move as much as it can and should (unless you have some structural issue limiting the movement). Some argue if a toe touch stretches anything, maybe, maybe not. My point is if your movements are limited, you need to put in work to fixing them. If you notice one side happens to be tighter on a particular day, do some extra warm-up and stretching until it feels balanced out. If you always feel unbalanced, likely you have a posture issue or some other issue that likely needs advanced treatment from a physical therapist, chiropractor and massage therapist combination.
- I highly recommend post workout stretching routine called Microstretching http://www.microstretching.com/uk/ . When done as prescribed, it does take time. However, I have used shortened bouts with good success. The concept is great and the stretches are easy to do and can be applied to other stretches. I recall a time last spring my group was really tight after warm-up. I decided to cancel the session and do a microstretching session instead. Following the 30 minute session, the group felt ready to train.
Foam rolling is a cheap way to get some pressure into the muscles to loosen them up and work out some trigger points. I recommend rolling to be done first, before anything. I also recommend doing it at the very end of the session. Use the roller to check various body parts for soreness, tightness, and pain levels. If you keep a log, track this information as it is invaluable for finding patterns and testing various strategies and routines.
Typical areas that are tight (usually is bands of tight tissue) are the front of your quads (rectus femoris), IT Band, lower back, inner and outer calf, outside of your lower leg (outside shin from knee to ankle), the front of the shin, and upper back in the shoulder blade region alongside the spine. I would additionally add inner thigh/groin if you know how.