Self-Care for Runners
Kaiser Permanente Centers for Complementary Medicine (kpccm.org)
Running is a physically demanding, high impact sport. Whether you’ve got 10 marathons under your belt, or you’re training for your very first 5k, a good self-care routine is essential to preventing injury. Here are a few self-care tips that will help keep you healthy and happy throughout the training process!
Help Prevent Shin Splints
Shin splints can be the painful and bothersome result of training to intensely too soon. Try these exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the Tibia (the shin bone)
For each set, walk 20 to 30 feet on your heels.
- Toes turned out (duck toed)
- Toes turned in (pigeon toed)
Calf stretch (pyramid pose)
From standing, step the right leg back 2.5 feet. Be sure all ten toes, and both hip points face forward. Fold forward over straight legs. Hands can rest on the ground or on blocks for support. Switch legs when ready.
Post-Run Yoga Poses
Yoga can be a runner’s best friend. Try these simple poses after a run to help release tension and keep the body flexible. Hold each pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.
Stack the right knee over ankle. Come to the pinky edge of the right foot. Place padding underneath extended left knee if needed. Hands or forearms come to the mat. Maintain a straight spine and don’t forget to breathe. You should feel this in the hip flexors and quads. Switch sides when ready.
Wide-leg forward fold
Ground down through your sits bones. Legs are engaged, toes point straight upwards. Engage your core as you hinge from your hips to fold forward. You should feel the stretch across your groins, Hamstrings, and lower back.
Lying on your back, plant the soles of your feet on the ground. Cross right ankle over the top of the left knee. If you’d like to intensify, reach through your legs and clasp your hands around the Hamstring or shin of the left leg. You should feel this in your gluts and piriformis muscle (underneath the gluts).
Lying on your back, extend right leg into the air, left leg extends long on the mat. Keep the low back rooting down into the ground as you clasp your hands around the Hamstring of the right leg. Keep shoulders and neck on the ground. Slowly, pull the leg towards you until you reach the threshold of your flexibility. Hold here and breathe. Switch legs when you’re ready.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are great after a training session. Try adding 4 cups of Epsom salts to warm/hot water and soak for at least 20 minutes. The magnesium content of the salts helps to ease inflammation in tissues and joints, and thus can help to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Add essential oils for extra relaxation effect.
Regular self-massage can be a powerful tool to help eliminate muscle adhesions before they become an issue and to help prevent injury. All you need is a simple tennis ball!
It’s important to remember that more is not necessarily better, and that while sensation is okay, pain is a clear indicator to back off. Be sure to listen to your body as you perform these exercises.
To target the plantar fascia, gently roll the tennis ball across the sole of your foot. This can be done standing or seated if the pressure is too intense.
Upper back and shoulders
Place tennis ball between spine and shoulder blades. Adjust pressure according to comfort.
Come to a comfortable seat. Begin by placing the tennis ball underneath your sit bones and roll gentle circles. Use your upper body to help dictate a comfortable pressure. Roll slow circles upwards and then along your iliac crest (hip bone) to help release the soft tissue.
Most folks use a foam roller to work out their IT bands. This can be a great tool! However, a tennis ball can be just as useful to release this band of connective tissue.