Runners are constantly being advised to do more to stay healthy and prevent injury. As a fitness magazine editor, I’m often one of the people doing the advising. But as a runner, I know it’s incredibly tricky to juggle all this advice.
In a perfect world we would stretch, perform dynamic exercises, lift weights, cross train, strengthen our core, take ice baths, foam roll, go to the chiropractor, get acupuncture, warm up, cool down and floss twice daily. In the real world, we need to pick our battles.
At the top of my list is massage. I discovered massage for the same reason every runner starts practicing a recovery treatment: I was injured and desperate. But out of my knee pain blossomed a beautiful relationship.
I now visit my massage therapist, Gina, whenever something’s feeling not quite right and have learned so much from her. For example, did you know the source of your pain may not be where you think it is? I learned this first-hand after finding out that my knee pain was caused by tightness in my hip. Recently, I visited Gina for a different niggling ache. When she began to massage my back, I said, “No, just my lower body today please.” She smiled and pressed somewhere deep near my spine. I felt a jolt surging straight to my hip. As Gina explained, what hurts is often what’s being pulled, but it may not be the source of the knot.
Studies have shown that massage aids in pain reduction and inflammation reduction. And I’m convinced that massage has helped me duck injuries and recover more quickly. Plus, it just hurts so good. Because I want others to share my experience, I talk about it with friends, pass around Gina’s card and even give massage gift cards as presents. But I think the bigger lesson for me is that after 15 years of running, I’ve started to do something (anything!) regularly that helps me stay healthy. My advice is to find one or two techniques (whether it’s a favorite yoga class or a weekly ice bath) and stick with it. Your body will thank you. And if it doesn’t, I’ll give you Gina’s number.
I want to know, what’s your go to injury-prevention activity?