Just as Olympic runner Kara Goucher once said, “When you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and body will follow.” You know that feeling of euphoria you experience during your run where thousands of endorphins are being released by your brain? In those moments, you feel invincible and nothing seems impossible. In those moments, you have made the decision that you will not fail and your heart and body seem to be following.
However, when that feeling fades, your body starts to feel the weight of the hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of trail miles your once invincible body has endured.
That’s where some proactive steps can make a major impact. Properly caring for your body before, during and after your trail time can be the difference between an epic experience and a total bonk or worse, injury. Our Must Love Dirt themed Spring Obsidian Collection includes a trail running variation featuring key products for caring for your runner’s body, on and off the trail.
Let’s look at the facts…
Did you know that when you run you are placing a force of up to 3 times your body weight onto your feet? … SAY WHAT?!... That means that someone who weighs 150 lbs is placing up to 450 lbs of pressure onto their feet. So, what does this mean for your running career? Not only does this mean that runners are extremely strong mentally and physically, but it also means that being a runner warrants many unwanted injuries. But, don’t worry! We aren’t going to try and convince you to stop running. In fact, we are going to give you a few tips and tricks for maximizing your runs.
DURING: Hydration + Fuel
There’s no question that properly hydrating and fueling your body during a high-effort activity will keep your body and mind firing as they should, making you a bit less likely to make mindless mistakes or take foot-dragging tumbles. But there is a difference between a few gulps of water with a cookie and highly optimized products designed for intense activity.
Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Mix was created for a simple purpose - to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat while providing a little bit of energy without offending your palette or gut. And, believe it or not, sugar is one of the elements that make this mix so powerful. In the context of an active lifestyle and more specifically during prolonged or very intense exercise, sugar can be critical to helping maintain your blood sugar, to keeping fueled, and along with sodium, can significantly improve the transport of water into the body. Depending on the length of your run, you can fill a small handheld bottle for a single serving of Hydration Mix, or mix it into the bladder of your hydration vest – the Osprey Dyna or Duro 1.5.
Noka Superfood Smoothies are a favorite among the Cairn Crew for trail fuel, especially during warmer months. Refrigeration isn’t required for these portable smoothies, and they are immeasurably more refreshing and easier to consume than a bar or sticky gel. They're made with organic fruits, veggies, plant protein and healthy fat, and they have no added sugar or preservatives. At around 110 calories of optimized fuel per pouch, they make a great mid-run and recovery item to keep handy in your vest and your car at the trailhead.
BEFORE & AFTER: Self Myofascial Release (SMR)
With tools like the Original RAD Roller and proper education, you’ll have the mobility and recovery techniques necessary for running farther, longer, smoother and, most importantly, healthier.
What does your typical warm-up and cool-down routine look like? Are you practicing any sort of self myofascial release (SMR) techniques? Self myofascial release is a recovery and mobility intervention protocol that releases tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation from exercise. Connective tissue called fascia surround the muscles, bones, nerves, and organs of the body. The RAD tools were created to aid people like you in the process of warming up, cooling down, and muscle recovery.
With hundreds (roughly 650) of muscles in the human body and only 24 hours in a day, we are going to walk you through a few key areas and movements you should focus on as a runner. (Please keep in mind, one of the most important aspects of releasing tension and warming up your muscles is breathing.)
Key Muscle Groups For Runners to Focus On:
Plantar Fascia → The feet are filled with nerve endings, so before you run it’s essential you wake up the bottom of your feet.
- Place the roller on the ground with one of your feet on top.
- Use slow, flushing movements with your RAD Roller from the heel of your foot to the ball of your foot.
- Continue this flushing movement for about 1 minute each foot while taking 10 deep breaths.
Calves → Restrictions in your feet typically lead to restrictions in your calves, and vice versa. Achilles tendon injuries take years and years to develop and evolve from issues in your calves and feet. For longevity in your running career, it is imperative that you have mobility in your calves. The RAD Roller was anatomically designed to wrap around your achilles tendon and cradle the calf for just the right amount of pressure.
- Sit down on the ground, extend your legs, and place the roller under your calf.
- Roll the roller up and down your calf all the way to the base of your achilles tendon.
- Continue this flushing movement for about 1 minute each calf while taking 10 deep breaths.
Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) → The TFL is a generally forgotten muscle. I’m sure as a runner, you are aware of your IT Band and the importance it plays in your performance. But, what about the TFL? The TFL is the key component to stabilizing your hips and increasing your hip extension. Commonly tight in runners, it is crucial that you mobilize this muscle.
- Lay on your side and bring your knee up towards your hip. Your leg should be making a 90 degree angle.
- Place the Roller a little lower than your hip bone.
- Pin the muscle and hold the roller there for up to 2 minutes each hip. (Don’t forget to breathe deeply!)
T-spine → Another forgotten place for most runners. The t-spine is key for upper body rotation and generating energy in your upper body while you run. More energy in your upper body = becoming a more efficient runner.
- Lay on your back and place the roller in between your wing bones, at the base of your neck.
- Allow your body to sink into the Roller.
- Slowly move the roller an inch or two lower down the spine toward your hips. Every time you stop, hold it for 15 seconds and take 10 deep breaths.
And last, but definitely not least…
Suboccipitals (Bottom of your skull) → The suboccipitals are key to elongating the neck and improving your posture. The better your posture while running, the more efficient your body is performing.
- Lay on your back and place the RAD Roller under the back of your head (right above where your neck begins).
- Pin the muscle while taking 10 deep breaths.
Ok, that’s enough education. Time to hit the trail :).
How do you care for your body before, during and after a run? Tell us in the comments!