To top
Hide Show Categories

Tag Archives: Stretching

  • The Marathon Aftermath

    By Shelly Glover

    You may not have given much thought to marathon recovery. After all, you trained, ran, finished and got your medal. With a wave of blessed relief, you realize the pressure is off. Now what?

    Coping – The First Few Hours and Days

    What’s more painful than running a marathon? How about the fatigue and soreness of the hours and days afterwards? Expect it, its part of the deal. Marathon recovery goes backward. At first you’ll feel worse instead of better. Whether you are bragging or licking your wounds, quicken recovery with our tips for rehydrating, refueling, and reducing soreness.

    Keep Moving. When you finish the marathon, it’s a hike to get your medal, a hike to get your blanket and a hike to the baggage and family reunion area. That’s good. Moving prevents stiffness. A 15-to-20 minute walk is helpful. More is better if you can manage.

    Drink and Eat. Refuel with carbs and fluid soon. Drink until your urine runs light yellow or clear. This takes a while. Of course how long depends on what you drink. A swig of beer can go straight through you and cause further dehydration. With beer your urine will be clear, but you’ll still be dehydrated. At least you will think you feel better.

    Ice. Contain swelling in painful areas by icing for 10minutes or so. Repeat along with ibuprofen for the next few hours and days to combat inflammation.

    Stretch Lightly. Limber up, but don’t overstretch fatigued muscles.

    Closure. Go ahead, hang around after the race to celebrate. Share stories of the gory and glory. When you’ve gathered the strength, or friends to assist you head home for the shower. You’ll feel better. The shower is optional for your friends. Some runners say a hot bath or whirlpool relaxes and loosens their muscles. Experts resist. They say heat increases inflammation and body temperature. They suggest instead cold showers or baths. No thanks. Not for me!

    Stop and Shop. Take a nap. The day’s caffeinated gels and excitement may keep you awake, but just resting a bit is a good idea. Later, go for another walk (15 to 30 minutes) and stretch lightly, or swim to combat stiffness and help you relax. My personal solution to movement and relaxation: go shopping! Every good effort deserves a reward!


    The Morning After

    Take a bath or warm shower to loosen up. Treat injuries first with ice. Walk and stretch gently. A professional massage speeds recovery. Schedule one 24 to 48 hours after the race and another a few days later.

    The Next Few Days

    Get plenty of sleep. At night, go to bed early. Other times take naps. Shuteye boosts immunity and heals the overexerted body. The first few nights after a marathon, runners often have trouble sleeping. If that includes you, at least lie in bed and rest often. On the other hand, if you are having trouble staying awake, don’t worry. Your body deserves the extra downtime.

    Refueling and Rehydrating

    It takes three to five days to refill glycogen stores. Runners often don’t go for carbohydrates hard enough after the marathon. Forgetting to munch with an eye on nutrition prolongs fatigue and delays a comfortable return to training.

    Returning to Training – The Reverse Taper

    Rebuilding. One predictable truth about runners is – if something works, they’ll change it. Case in point, if a runner runs a strong marathon, the urge is to jump back into training with a little more mileage, a little faster, a little harder, or a little more of something. This is how success breeds failure. After your great marathon effort, don’t be so anxious to start training your heart out and improve. Actually take a few easy runs to enjoy the scenery.
    Hold Back. Even if you feel strong, you’re only as strong as your weakest (or sorest) spot. Take one recovery day for every mile of your race. Um, for the math challenged that’s about 26 days or roughly a month. Recovery rate depends on the runner and the marathon. It’s usually easier to recover from a good marathon than a disappointing one.

    Biopsies done on marathoners show muscle cells take up to a month to recover from the microscopic damage inflicted during a race. Besides recovering from soreness and blisters, you need time to ignite the desire to train.
    Recovery deserves as much planning as your premarathon schedule. Think of it as the premarathon taper in reverse – a few off days, then a few short runs, then a gradual increase in weekly mileage until you reach your normal, pre-marathon peak level.

    To Run or Not To Run?

    Many veterans insist on running the next day, perhaps even the evening of the marathon. They believe it helps recovery. But a study by Dr. Costill at Ball State University in Indiana indicates you may be better off not even running a step for the first week. Researchers compared a group that didn’t run for a week with a matched group that ran easily for 20 to 40 minutes a day. The nonrunners scored better in tests for muscle strength and endurance three days and a week after the marathon.

    Why pound away on muscles that need time to repair? If you insist on working out, stick to 30 to 60 minutes of nonimpact aerobic exercise. Swimming is particularly good with its natural massaging action. Frequent walks help too.

    First Few Return Runs

    After a few days of nonrunning, try two to four miles per day or alternate days the rest of the week. Increase mileage the second week to no more than 25 to 50 percent of normal and to no more than 50 to 75 percent during the third and fourth post-marathon weeks (but less than this is okay). By the fourth or fifth week you may be ready to resume normal mileage. For example, this may be 40 miles a week compared to 50miles at peak marathon training.

    Pace and Speed Work

    Forget about for awhile. Run easy according to how you feel. First aim to run without soreness. Then gradually get back to your normal training pace. Hard runs aren’t advisable for a month or so.

    Ease into speedwork. If your body is ready and willing, about 10 to 14 days after the marathon try a light speed session. Controlled fartlek or a tempo run will help you ease into quicker running. Repeat this (or put it off) the next week, or try a few long intervals at 10K pace or slower. By the fourth or fifth week, you may be able to run harder speed sessions.

    Anytime during your four-week “reverse taper” feel free to back off training. If you feel fatigued or sore, run less. Take plenty of extra rest days until you’re back to normal. Don’t run on an injury – damage is compounded in postmarathon legs. Remember, recovery is priority for at least 4 weeks after a marathon. There’s no need to rush: Research shows you won’t lose much, if any, fitness.

    Depression and Rebound

    Your emotional post-marathon experience depends some on your personality type, according to Maryellen Duane, Ph. D., clinical psychologist at Winning Lifestyles.

    Duane knows what’s she speaks. A 10-time marathoner, she’s on the frontlines as head of the New York City Marathon Psyching Team.

    Newbie’s often have a different post experience than veteran marathoners, she explains. “For first-timers, finishing the marathon is a lifetime experience. They often
    revel in feelings of accomplished and pride. Like having your first baby, there’s nothing like your first marathon.

    Rebound with your post marathon rush to tackle projects or lifestyle changes you’ve been trying to get up the nerve to do. You know, write the novel! Go get that new job! Start that internet site!

    As per Lombardi-ism, “It is time for us all to cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it. “Thanks, Vince. The doer is you. The achiever is you. You proved it finishing the marathon. Now go recognize a new challenge and do something about it!

    But alas – not all runners rebound from happy marathon experiences. Some runners must rebound from unhappy experiences.

    Unhappy competitive marathoners tend to focus on a single negative aspect of the race (for example finishing time) instead of the overall positive experience. They miss the pleasure. Come on all you narcissists; we are talking about you. That should at least make you happy!

    Even if you ran a good race, you may feel down for a few weeks. Allan Steinfeld, NYRP top honcho, at the AfterMarathon Clinic compared the let-down to postpartum depression. (Here we go with that baby simile again...) “Your ‘baby’ has reached the finish line and your long-sought-after goal, around which your life revolved for months, has been achieved, leaving you feeling empty, “ he explains.

    It’s okay to cool serious running for awhile. Shoo away the blues by delving into stuff you had to give up while consumed by running. Duane suggests setting another challenge for yourself. “Enjoy your marathon accomplishment, and then focus on a non-running goal. Try yoga, or cross country skiing. Run in a new place. Do something novel to avoid staleness.” Not only does this nurture a positive focus, but helps avoid injury too.

    But, don’t forget to run. Training during the winter months is a good investment in your future.


    Recap

    • Generally the first week after a marathon you run very little or a few miles here or there.
    • The second week try running about 10 to 20 percent of your base mileage going into the marathon. Some 15 to 20miles for the week is usually more than enough.
    • The third week after the marathon, it is ok to come back up to base mileage.
    • The third or fourth week try a little light speed training such as modified fartlek or
    • a tempo run.
    • After four to six weeks competitive runners, depending on conditioning, may return to racing. Novice and casual marathoners may want to take a little more time and return to racing within five to eight weeks.

    Race & Training Analysis

    After weeks and months of training a runner races the NYC Marathon, gets a time and moves on. That’s that, it’s over, done, kaput, fine and the end. The course is run. You’ve been there and done that. Onward ho, you cry, to the next race!

    Slow down. Hold on. Back up. The finish line clock isn’t the only valuable feedback from a marathon. A backward glance helps direct and focus where you are going with training and racing goals. Most marathons aren’t all good or all bad. While the event is vivid, mentally play back the episode. Take the time to set down what went right – and wrong into specifics.

    The objectives of analysis are to:

    1. Reinforce what you did well.
    2. Learn from your mistakes.

    Here’s a key to looking for clues in your marathon performance:

    Race Time
    Record your splits. These are your times along the way (i.e. at 2miles, 10K, 1⁄2 marathon, 20miles) How was your pacing? How does your time compare to your goals, other marathons, predicted time, and training partners?

    Weather
    It makes a difference in how your run. Write down specifics for accuracy.

    • Air Temperature
    • Wind
    • Rain
    • Humidity
    • Snow
    • Sun Glare
    • Heat
    • Cloud Cover

    Course Conditions

    • These variables can speed or slow your time.
    • Hills
    • Drainage slant or camber
    • Mud and puddles
    • Pavement conditions including fallen leaves, loose gravel, stones, oil
    • Car and spectator inference
    • Aid station bottlenecks
    • Runner crowding conditions
    • Crowd support

    Marathon Goal Time
    First-timers may have wanted to just finish. Others may have wanted to run the second half faster than the first. Still others may have wanted to beat another competitor or have enough energy to show off to the crowds on First Avenue. Mental Preparation. Record your motivational techniques. Maybe use a few from out list:

    • Visualization
    • Course memorization
    • Progressive relaxation
    • Themes such as songs or slogans to keep you sloggin’ along
    • Mental rehearsal

    Race Strategy
    Make notes on how you planned to run the course. Did they work? Eat and drink. Record what you did and if it was successful. If it gave you less than optimal results come up with an alternative for next time. Cover three areas of intake – before, during and after the marathon. Here are a few suggestions to trigger your memory.

    • Breakfast
    • Medications
    • Sports foods and drinks
    • Supplements
    • Miscellaneous foods on the course

    Shoes and Clothing

    • What did you wear?
    • Did the clothes rub or bind?
    • Were they the right warmth for race conditions?
    • Any ideas for improvement?
    • Which socks worked out?

    Aches and Pains

    • Notes what hurts when and where.
    • Transitory aches
    • Sharp pains
    • Blisters
    • Discomforts
    • Cramps
    • Where fatigue appeared first
    • Trips, slips, dips and zips that can result in pulls, plunges and pains.
    • Menstrual cycle status

    Training Review

    • How many total miles did you run in training?
    • How long was the taper?
    • How many long runs of 18 to 23miles did you complete?
    • While marathon training, how many races did you run and what was their quality?

    Summary
    This is where you play sportscaster and recap the event. Make a few notes on each topic:

    • Best parts of race
    • Lessons learned
    • Comments
    • Goals for next marathon

    Post-Marathon Cold
    One in seven marathoners will get a cold during the first two weeks after the marathon. Yuck! That’s a six times greater risk than controls who did not run a marathon. Maybe marathoning should come with a Surgeon General’s warning, “Marathoning may be bad for your health.” Yeah, well, before you start running away from running, look at it this way: six out of seven marathoners do not get colds after running a marathon. Now, which is the newsworthy headline?

    The take home message here is that exercise at mild to moderate levels increases immunity. The intense level of marathon racing lowers immunity temporarily to upper- respiratory tract infections, e.g. colds. Young rookie marathoners are more at risk than veteran competitors.

    Stay healthy:

    • Wash your hands frequently
    • Get your rest
    • Avoid unnecessary stress
    • Eat properly
    • Avoid that sneezing, coughing germ-incubating co-worker
    Read More
  • Stretching Program

    This packet is designed for education to prevent injury and to promote health. If you experience an injury you should consult with your physician for proper care and treatment. The physicians and physical therapists at K-Valley Orthopedics specialize in sports medicine injuries and understand your desire to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Call 269-343-8170 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

     

    Guidelines for Stretching: The key to stretching is consistency over the long haul. You will get more benefit from doing a few minutes each day, rather than spending half an hour one to two days a week. When you stretch you should keep the muscles relaxed and only pull to where you feel a gentle stretch. Do NOT strain. If you pull to hard the muscles will automatically tighten to protect against a muscle tear and you will not improve your muscle length. Do not bounce and remember to relax and breathe easily while stretching.

    Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice. Do 1-2 x a day.

    ITB: This is a large tendon which starts at the top of your hip and pelvis and runs down along the outside of your leg and inserts along the side of your knee and shin. Use a rope or dog leash to assist this stretch. Lie on your back and place a loop around the involved foot. With your knee straight, first raise the leg straight up until you have reached waist height and then pull your leg across your body. Keep your back and shoulders flat on the floor the entire time.

    Hip Flexors: These muscles start from the lower spine and the top of the pelvis and insert onto the thigh and knee. Start in a half-kneeling position, with the leg you are stretching behind you. Keep your back straight and lean your hips forward until you feel a gentle stretch across the front or your hip. Do NOT overstretch.

    Quadriceps: This is a group of muscles along the front of the thigh. Stand with your back straight, pull your heel toward your buttock until a gentle stretch is felt across the front of your thigh. If you do not feel a stretch, tighten your butt muscles to increase the pull on the front of your thigh.

    Piriformis: This is a small muscle which runs from your sacrum to your hip. Laying on your back, with one hand pull your knee up toward your opposite shoulder and with the other hand pull your ankle toward your opposite shoulder until a gentle stretch is felt along your hip and buttock region.

    Adductor Stretch: This is the large group of muscles along the groin or inner thigh area. Sit with your legs yoga style but with the bottoms of your feet together rather than crossed, push out on your knees until a gentle stretch is felt along the back of your thigh. Standing with your heel up on a stool, keep your back straight, push your butt back, straighten your knee and pull your toes up until you feel a gentle stretch along the back of your leg.

    Gastrocnemius: This is the large muscle along the back of your calf. Position your back leg with knee straight, heel flat on the floor, toes pointed straight ahead. Position your front leg with knee bent, foot flat, toes pointed straight ahead. Lean forward until you feel a gentle pull in the calf muscles of the back leg.

    Soleus: This is a smaller muscle of the calf that lies under the gastrocnemius. Position your back leg with knee slightly bent, heel flat on the floor, toes pointed straight ahead. Position your front leg with knee bent, heel flat on the floor, toes pointed straight ahead. Lean forward until a gentle stretch is felt in the muscles of your calf on the back leg.

    Hamstrings: This is a large muscle group along the back of the thigh. Place heel on a chair with your toes pulled up towards you, knee straight and push your hips and butt, backwards. Keep your back up straight, DO NOT bend over at the back.

    IT Band: This is a large strap like muscle and tendon that runs from the hip to the knee. Cross right leg over left, stick left hip out to the side, bring left arm up over the top of your head. Repeat the same to the other side.

    Read More
  • Stretching 101

    By Rich Morris

    Let’s face it. As distance runners we don’t pay much attention to the basics of stretching. I know that is a generalization, but it is true for most of us. Sure, we probably do some light stretching before a workout or race to loosen up our muscles but we really don’t give proper stretching the attention that it deserves. A proper stretching program will help in several ways. It reduces the risk of injury; decreases muscle soreness and improves performance. There are six basic stretching techniques: static, passive, dynamic, ballistic, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PFN) and active isolated (AI).


     

    Static Stretching

    This is the most commonly used technique. A stretch position is gently assumed and held for 20 to 60 seconds. There is no bouncing or rapid movement. Do not stretch to the point of pain. You should feel a slight pull, but no discomfort. Keep all joints in alignment. Do not twist joints into unnatural positions. The stretch should be felt in the belly of the muscle and not in the joints. This type of stretch works best after your workout rather than before.


     

    Passive Stretching

    The basic technique is the same as static stretching. The muscles are kept relaxed and a gentle stretch is maintained for 20 to 60 seconds. The difference with a passive stretch is that a helper actually provides the forces of the stretch. In a static stretch, you get your body into position and supply the force for the stretch with other muscle groups and using body weight. With passive stretching you relax your entire body, while a helper provides the force to stretch your muscles. The same rules apply here. There should be no bouncing or rapid movement. Do not stretch to the point of pain.


     

    Dynamic Stretching

    A current popular buzzword among athletes is function training. That basically means training that mimics the actibity you are training for. Dynamic stretching could also be called functional stretching. A dynamic stretch is one in which your limbs are moving through their full range of motion. For example, walking with high knees is a dynamic flexibility exercise that stretches your glutes, quadriceps and lower back. Thesestretching exercises are best performed after a warm up and before you begin your activity.
    Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
    Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) was originally developed by physical therapists for reabhilitation purposes. This type of stretch is accomplished by maximally contracting the muscle to be stretched for 5 to 10 seconds. This is followed by a slow passive stretch. This is repeated several times. By contracting the muscle and then stretching, you overcome a tendency for the muscle to resist the stretch, which results in a higher degree of flexibility.


     

    Active Isolated Stretching

    Active isolated (AI) stretching is the latest development is flexibility. AI stretching involves contracting the opposing muscle while the target muscles is stretched. The theory is that as one muscle is contracted, the opposing muscle will relax. An example of opposing muscles are the hamstrings on the back of the thigh and the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh. By contracting the quadriceps as your stretch the hamstrings, the hamstrings will relax to a greater degree, resulting in a better stretch. Many dynamic stretches are a form of AI stretching.


     

    Which is Best?

    With all of these choices, which is the best way to stretch? The recommended methods are dynamic stretching before your training run and either static or AI stretching after your workout. The dynamic stretches do a good job of preparing your muscles for your workout or race without decresasing the energy return potential of your muscles. PNF stretching have been shown to be a high-risk type of stretch. Studies show that AI stretching provides more flexibility than either passive or static stretching. However, all of the stretches are appropriate for beginning runners.

    Read More
  • Dynamic Flexibility & Mobility

    Dynamic movements are the best way to prepare your body for dynamic workouts.  Contrary to old beliefs, the best time to work on static flexibility is at the end of your workout, and not in the beginning.  After every workout you should follow a 4-6 minute total body static stretching series.The following dynamic stretches will help develop you flexibility, balance, coordination, mobility and strength.

    Walking High Knees

     

    Purpose:  to flex the hips and shoulders, and stretch the glutes, quads, lower back and shoulders.

    Procedure:

    1. Take an exaggerate high step, driving your knee as high as possible and simultaneously push up on the toes of your opposite foot.
    2. Use the proper arm swing; 90° angle at the elbows, hands sing up to chin level and back beyond rear pocket.

    Key Points: Drive your knees up as high as possible.

    Variation - High knees pull: Same as above, but grab your knee and pull it up and in with each stride.

    Arm Swings

     

    Purpose: to relax and loosen the arms, upper and lower back.

    Procedure:

    1. Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with knees slightly bent.
    2. Hold arms out to the side.
    3. Slowly swing arms back and forth across the front of your body.
    4. Repeat this continuous motion for a minimum of 30 seconds.

    Key Points:
    Keep back straight at all times.

    Variation:  Overhead/down and back – swing both arms continuously to an overhead position and then forward, down and backwards.

    Side Bends

    Purpose: Wakes up the breathing muscles in the front and side of the chest and releases tension in the shoulders.

    Procedure:

    1. Stand tall with good posture, feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, knees slight bent with hands resting on hips.
    2. Lift your trunk up and away from your hips and bend smoothly first to one side, then the other, avoiding the tendency to lean either forwards or backwards.
    3. Repeat the whole sequence sixteen times with a slow rhythm, breathing out as you bend to the side, and in as you return to the center.

    Key Points:
    Always try to avoid leaning forwards or backwards, stay centered.
    Variation: Place a toning bar on your shoulders and do same motion as above.

    Read More
  • Balance Running and Strength Training

    By Leslie Goldman

    Dieters Strategy:  
    Avoid strength training to keep from adding on pounds.

    Runner’s Strategy:
    Balance running and strength training.

    Dieters often shy away from strength training, such as lifting weights, out of a fear it will make them bulk up.  Others are intimidated by going to a gym.  But for many dieters, the reason is simpler.  They know one hour of intense cardio burns more calories than one hour of strength training.  If you’re pressed for time, it would seem that intense cardiovascular exercise would provide more bang for your buck, leading to a greater weight loss than pumping iron.

    Yet the truth is that taking the time to add strength training to your routine a few days a week has a number of unintuitive benefits that can help boost your weight loss.  Studies have shown that strength training can improve body composition by helping you maintain or increase your lean body mass and can decrease your percentage of body fat, helping you look leaner and burn additional calories.  Here’s how it works.

    Muscle Burns More Calories: “Fat burns almost nothing at rest,” says exercise physiologist Pete McCall, “whereas muscle uses oxygen.  If you increase lean muscles mass, you’ll increase the body’s ability to use oxygen and burn more calories,” Your body typically uses about 4.5 to 7 calories per pound of muscle every day.  If a 160-pound runner with 20 percent body fat increases his muscle mass and lowers his body fat to 15 percent, he’ll burn an extra 36 to 56 calories a day at rest – simply by adding muscle.

    You’ll Be More Efficient:  Strength training can help you run faster, longer, and more efficiently.  A study published last year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that runners who add three days of resistance training exercises to their weekly program increase their leg strength and enhance their endurance.  Obviously, runners with better endurance can run longer – and burn more calories.  You’ll also be able to recover faster from those long runs because strength training makes your body more efficient at converting metabolic waste into energy.  “It’s like being able to convert car exhaust into gas,” says McCall.

    You’ll be Less Injury-Prone:  “If you increase your strength, you’ll also increase you joint stability, reducing your risk of repetitive stress injuries,” says McCall, citing a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which showed that incorporating moves such as squats, single-leg hops, ab work into a workout can not only prevent lower-body injuries, but improve performance as well.  Leg exercises are particularly important when it comes to reducing injury:  These exercises strengthen muscles around the knees and hips – two areas that often cause problems for runners. 

    Read More

5 Item(s)