Runners Survival Kit
Let’s face it, we’re nothing like our ancestors. We don’t sleep in caves, we don’t hunt for food, we don’t gather berries, and we don’t run across the grass planes barefoot, not all of us that is. We sleep on soft cushioned mattresses with soft cushioned pillows, we drive to work, we buy our food in neatly wrapped packages, we sit behind computers all day and then for an hour or so each day, we run.
The problem with this is not that we weren’t born to run. The problem is that our lifestyles have made us soft. With gym work and some strength training we can greatly reduce the risk of injury and we should be doing everything we can possibly do to ensure injury free running.
Given our rather sedentary lifestyles and our “soft” bodies as a result of that lifestyle, exercise and running puts a stress on our muscles that we are not used to.
Here are 4 survival tools that will help us keep our muscles loose and help keep us injury free. I call these the “Runners Survival Kit”. A must have for all runners.
1. Foot massage.
Your foot has many small muscles and tendons that enables it to keep you balanced and to move you forward. It is important to have strong feet as your feet absorb the load of each foot strike when you run.
Buy yourself a message ball that you can roll up and down the bottom of your foot. This works wonders and increases the blood flow in your feet, releases knots and keeps the plantar fascia from tightening up.
Four to five minutes on each foot is all you require each day.
2. The Foam Roller.
Foam rollers are readily available and cost around R 200. You do get fancier more expensive models but the basic cheap roller does the job.
A foam roller is a great way to break down those nasty knots and tight spots that form in your calves, glutes, quads and ITB. In case you think you don’t have any, just get onto a foam roller for a few minutes and we’ll talk again.
Here are some ways to use your foam roller in order to massage out any knots that may have formed. Spend about 2-3 minutes per side per exercise every day or every second day while watching TV. The trick is to move up and down the roller as slowly as possible, when you find a spot that hurt hold it there for 30-60 seconds before moving on. You will also find that one direction hurts more than then other, focus on the direction that hurts more.
A thera-band is that stretchy rubber band you often find at physios. It comes in different colours and that’s not so that you can match the band to your socks. The different colours denote different tensions. The bands are very cheap and you can get them from your closest physio. Buy a mix of colours so that you can play with the different tensions. Also start with the easy tension and gradiaully build and move up.
The bands are an excellent way to strengthen any weak areas you may have such as your feet and ankles. Again, these bands can be used for a few minutes a day in your lounge while watching TV and provide a huge benefit.
Here are some exercises (there are 100’s more) which are brilliant for runners:
4. Tennis ball.
A tennis ball? Seriously?
A tennis ball is an excellent massage device for your glutes. The foam roller helps to a point with the glutes but you simply cannot get in deep enough as the surface area of the foam roller is too great.
A tennis ball gets right in onto those tight painful spots in the glutes. Roll onto the spot that hurts and then hold it there for 30 to 60 seconds with very small movements left, right, up and down.