All the runners, heavy gym-goers, yogis, cross fitters & more: this is the piece for you.
We ask A LOT from our body! We expect it, without question, to be ready to go whenever we need it. That might mean going grocery shopping or it could mean spending a day at Cedar Point. And for those of us who like to move, that means it has to be ready to run, ride, swim, climb, or whatever you like to do, at a moment’s notice. When you think of it that way, we really don’t treat our bodies as nicely as we should. So how do we start changing that?
The easiest, simplest, best, but most expensive way to treat your body nicely is to find a good masseuse. Having a knowledgeable, and strong, professional work out your aches, pains, sprains and knots is clearly the best option. Unfortunately, few of us can afford that type of regular care. So the onus falls to us. We need to take care of our own bodies. So, how do we do that?
Most of us have heard of self massage, commonly called foam rolling. But do you practice it regularly? Have you ever taken a class on it or had a professional show you how to do it? Do you know which foam rollers or self massage tools are best for certain parts of your body? Some basic rules: the firmer the device, the more it may hurt; the smaller the device, the deeper it will dig into your muscle. Also, never deeply massage a source of ache or pain for more than 10-15 seconds, as you will run the risk of bruising the area and extending your window of recovery. One note when shopping for a foam roller/self massage device: consider its packability, as you will certainly want it with you while you are traveling for events!
2. Warming up properly
Few of us warm up properly before we exercise. I know that I am certainly guilty of driving up to the trailhead, and jumping out of my car to run. But taking even five minutes to employ some dynamic (active, movement based) stretches can be a real help in keeping your body happy.
3. Cooling down
Just like warming up, I’m sure all of us tend to skip our post-exercise cool down stretch. Again, taking five minutes to practice a few static stretches, targeting your trouble spots, will go a really long way in keeping you moving pain-free.
Compression is a wonderful catch-all that can be used for activity and recovery. And it is now used in some way by most athletes I know. Whether it’s a shirt, shorts or the most common method, socks, wearing compression provides a multitude of benefits to an active lifestyle. First, compression clothing encourages blood flow, which helps keep your red blood cells moving, helping to repair damaged muscle tissue. Second, it can minimize any movement or vibration in the muscle, which will extend the endurance of the muscle, but also reduce any damage. Third, it will reduce inflammation, which is often a symptom of injury that can cause pain and restrict mobility.
So start treating your body a little better, and it will do its part to keep you moving happily and in good health!