It’s about this time that “aches and pains” start creeping up. The key is we want to keep them as aches and not pain. If you can recognize and treat the warning signs you can prevent an injury. I suggest doing a “body scan”. A body scan is when you mentally move from head to toe. For example, this is what you might be thinking while you perform a body scan while looking for warning signs of injuries or sickness:
ü How are my head and sinuses? Do I have any symptoms of a cold coming on?
ü How are my arms and shoulders? Am I able to keep them relaxed? Do they feel strong?
ü How is my core? Is it strong enough to provide good running posture?
ü How do my legs feel? Are they propelling me forward with a strong stride?
ü How do my hips feel? Are they tight as I run?
ü How do my knees feel? Do I feel any tightness or achiness on the outside, inside, or front of my knee?
ü How do my calves feel? Do they feel tight?
ü How do my feet feel? Do my arches feel okay?
Then after your body scan assessment you can then decide whether or not you need to take further action. If you have symptoms of a cold, you can start drinking more fluids, increase your vitamin C intake, go to bed early, etc. If you feel as if you’re weak anywhere you begin implementing strength exercises ie- push-ups, planks, squats, lunges, calf raises, etc. If you feel any tightness or achiness, I suggest using a foam roller like THIS and begin icing. You will be amazed at one a good post run ice bath or ice cup can do for you!
There are several methods for icing:
- Ice baths– I have a love/hate relationship with ice baths. I hate getting into cold water- yikes, it’s basically torture. BUT I love the effects of ice baths! I promise that if you will begin the habit of taking an ice bath after hard workouts (esp. hill workouts and long runs), you too will notice a difference in your recovery. Ice baths are great because they help your entire lower extremity. This is the preferred method for icing your hips. In college, we would go jump in the canal so we had the cold water and the current. However, you can also just fill your tub up with cold water. The coldest water out of the tap will give you the benefit, but if you can handle it, add a tray of ice cubes. The more “mommy” effective way to ice baths is to fill up the kiddie pool and jump in with kids! Soak for 15-20 minutes.
Oh you evil ice bath, you torture me…
- Okay it’s not THAT bad… maybe it’s more like this…
Okay, maybe not that cozy. Marathon Molly has it right…
- Ice cups– To make an “ice cup” fill-up a paper Dixie cup with water and freeze it overnight (during training it’s nice to have a few in the freezer at all times). Then when you are ready to ice, you peel the cup down exposing the ice (keep some paper for you to hold so your fingers don’t freeze) then make small circular motions over the sore spot. This not only gives you the benefits of icing, but also of friction! Ice cups are the preferred method of icing for shin splits or knee pain. Ice cup for about 15-20 minutes.
- Ice jars– Simply freeze a mason jar overnight and you have an “ice jar”. If you have sore arches, this is the best way to prevent further injury such as plantar fasciitis. After you have frozen your jar, roll the jar with the bottom of your foot back and forth. If you find a “sweet spot” keep rolling it out. Ice for about 5-8 minutes.