Yo, Factorians! So, interesting and bizarre thing happens today. As I have very briefly mentioned, Dr. Love is a teacher here in New Jersey for a small, Catholic school. Small Catholic schools need money, and so to get some money, this school holds a “McTeacher Night” at McDonalds every year. Personally, I try not to support the company (not because of any moral or high-horse type of thing, I am just far too tempted by the tasty fries and soda, more so than the tiny salads), but I figured, one meal there to help the kids is well worth it. But at McTeacher Night, the teachers don’t just buy the food, we also help SERVE the food. So quick recap of the day, up at 6, out the door by 7, into the class by 7:30 until 2:45, then practice from 3-5:30 including running and lifting, then to McDonalds for 2.5 hours. That is quite a bit of time on the feet!
So this all begs the question- how do we recover as runners? There are actually a number of pretty simple ways to help aide recovery without really trying too hard. One of our favorite ways at Sneaker Factory is to wear compression socks, sleeves, or tights to help your legs feel better post-workout. Leg compression wear is not a new thing- it may be new to runners, but it has been in the medical community for years- diabetics have been wearing special socks for years now to help overcome one of the negative effects of the disease being poor circulation. The athletic community caught wind of this idea not long ago, and said “hey… blood flow through muscles increases oxygen intake, and helps muscles recover… what if you took that idea and helped endurance athletes recover better?!” Well that is exactly what they did! My personal favorite article of compression wear is the sock. 2XU and Zoot have some fantastic compression socks that our customers have been giving great reviews on.
Another fantastic method of recovery is using “The Stick” or the old Foam Roller. Recovery times have been shown to greatly increase as blood flow and circulation are increased. Blood cells, like muscle cells and facial cells, can become damaged when depleted (of oxygen) and no longer function at their optimal level, so a key part in recovery is moving damaged blood cells out of muscles, and moving healthy cells into the muscles. As my friend (who ran 14:12 in the 5k and won the Penn Relays College 5k in 2004…) used to tell me when you are using “The Stick” to massage leg muscles, “you need to bring the bad blood up to your heart and get the good blood to your legs.” In your heart (but really the lungs) is where the red blood cells will soak up the oxygen being brought in to your body through the alveoli cells in the lungs. The Stick, and the foam roller literally push the blood cells out of the muscles and into the blood stream, promoting great circulation. Another great benefit of both of these products is that it also helps knock out the lactic acid that finds its way into your myofacial tears that naturally occur when you exercise out of the tears, and into your blood stream. You see, when you build muscle, you actually tear cells on the microscopic level, and new cells generate and fill in the tears and thus greater muscle mass is achieved. The same happens to the fascia that encases each and every one of your muscles- lactic acid can stick into these tears and slow recovery.
Now, if you have some money you can part with on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, there is always massage, or massage therapy. Personally, I would love to be a big fan of the practice of massage therapy (either sports massage, or my personal favorite- Active Release Therapy) for my weary muscles, if it did not take so much time and money. Back in my college days, I was fortunate enough to have a chiropractor at school, and Monmouth University was footing the bill for me (Thanks MU!). For many, massage can be a great way to recover from a long effort, such as a half-marathon, or a full marathon, or any type of triathlon as well. A coaching friend of mine recently completed a half marathon in a personal best, but at the cost of her legs feeling as though they were going to fall off. After the next days hour long massage, my friend was back on the trails with the team good as new! For those who can take the time, and afford the luxury, having some ART or sports massage by either a qualified massage therapist or a chiropractor can be a lifesaver for the endurance athlete!
Well fellow Factorians, I hope that you consider looking deeper into these (hopefully) helpful hints. Any questions, pop by one of the stores and pick our brains, or leave your questions here and I, Dr. Love, will help you out as best I can! Peace out Factory Scout!