Hey RMA crew!
Hope you had a great week! Massive congrats to your very own Nicole Bunyon for completing her first ultra! They’re addictive! I bet they’re contagious too!! Can’t wait to see everyone else giving them a go. I have been doing some proactive treatment on Flash, my five month old bulldog, this week and it made me think how if you want to keep running into your 80’s, you’ve really got to manage tightness. Flash isn’t really cut out for running so he probably needs more help than most, but he’s only a pup and he’s as tight as a drum. So there was a foam roller hanging around and Flash must have had some idea he needed to use it. Unfortunately all he could think to do was chew it into a million pieces so from now on I’ll help him myself. It saves money!
But when you tackle your own tension you want to be more skilful than Flash and you really want to know what you are doing. Most of us runners will use a foam roller on ITB down the outside of the leg and you just roll right? I can hear the oooh’s and ouches from here! So to do it right you firstly want to go back to your anatomy. What are you trying to achieve? And I want you as a runner to be crystal clear. With a foam roller you are lengthening and easing two things. The first is the fascia, which is like the glad wrap around your muscle. Kind of like our own superman suit that we come in! The second are the ‘trigger points’ or knots in the muscles that are literally everywhere, legs, arms, backs, everywhere! So to lengthen your glad wrap or fascia it’s a function of pressure and time. So when you foam roll move SLOWLY! Don’t roll quickly up and down, you’ll cause pain but won’t get a lot of benefit. SLOW is the key (for treatment too). To pick up the trigger points you need to apply static pressure to them. When you feel that tight knot which is the ouchy bit, stop on it for a few seconds, control your pressure. You may need to back it off a little. Don’t be in agony with foam rolling, that’s not going to get you best results. Be firm but if you feel you need to chew on a piece of leather, you’re going too hard!
So your foam roll session from a technique perspective should be controlled pressure, moving slowly through (fascial release) until you feel the tight knot… ouch… (Trigger point). Slow it up and sit on the point for a few seconds then slow roll to next point and continue again. Remember YOU guide the pressure! Not too hard! Then once you have technique down pat you can get systematic with your foam roller. Too many of us JUST target ITB. Remember the body is 360 degrees, top, bottom, front, back. If you roll the outside of the leg, also pick up the edges, front, into hip flexors, front outside, back outside. Once you’re comfy with that you want to think of tightness for running as a trail or pattern so you can progress to tackling lower back, your butt, higher up through your thoracic spine, even down the side for your lats! Now we’re talking running injury free!
Remember comfy at all times and if you have had any injury check with your health professionals first. Foam roller is pretty cool. Just remember it is a great tool for upper legs, back, glutes even some of your chest stuff. It isn’t crash hot for calves, shins, hamstrings and a few others. So if you don’t feel it check out RIFREV and work out what is best for your different areas. Remember, release toys are cool (I love mine!) but don’t let money or lack of toys stop you from releasing. We are always getting creative with pipe, brooms, dumb bells whatever! So I better get home now. Flash and the family are waiting!
Good luck with your runs this week! Also a special shout out to running mum Shona Stephenson. We have been looking after her all year on the Womens World Ultra Tour and she has finished 8th in the world which is cooler than cool!! I just love the idea of flying in from the Swiss Alps after finishing 168k at UTMB in time for school drop off on Monday morning. Congrats Shona! You can do anything guys!!
Have a great week RMA crew,