Improve your running efficiency, tone your key muscles and decrease your risk of injury with this core set of home physio products for runners.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, an endurance expert or a parkrun enthusiast, avoiding injury is always a top priority. Typically, many of us look for a quick fix, a magic formula, or the latest trending gadget on social media to help us stay fit and healthy. This can cause further issues down the line and end up costing lots of wasted time and money. As with most objectives, the key to staying fit and healthy requires a combination of tools and constant attention.
Let us go through the benefits of using recovery products and a selection of exercises for you to try at home, as well as the top home physio products available for runners.
Why is it important to warm up, stretch and recover?
As you will know, stretching before and after a run is critical to help keep your muscles from cramping up and preventing injury. Recovery, flexibility and strength work are essential to keep your body in tip-top shape, especially the older we get. As we move into later life, our muscle mass starts to decline and the risk of picking up an injury significantly increases.
Just like stretching, massaging plays a vital role in helping to increase blood flow and relax tight muscles. Ideal for tackling tight spots and muscular aches, massage tools can be used to aid your recovery after a run and increase your time away from the injury table. Effective on almost any part of the body, massage balls can be used to target specific trigger points and release muscle tension.
How can I aid my recovery and stretching routine?
If your typical warm-up routine consists of movements including squats, hamstring or calf stretches, try adding a Meglio resistance band to increase the intensity and to isolate key muscles such as your gluteus medius, vital for your hip stability. You may find it easier to take on a long run after gently exercising your muscles and loosening your ligaments with a resistance band.
Massage techniques such as foam rolling, can achieve fantastic results on muscles and fascia, but the effect could be negative if performed incorrectly. Correct technique is essential when foam rolling in order to feel the benefits. Frequent rolling can help to reduce aches and pains, increase flexibility, increase your range of motion, enhance performance and accelerate your recovery. Foam rolling doesn’t have to be complicated either. Remember, spending just 5-10 minutes a day on a Meglio foam roller is better than no time at all.
Ready to begin? Here’s a few great moves to get you started!
Name of exercise: Calf Roll
Target muscles: Calf Muscles
Why do it? Ideal for tackling muscle tension after a run, rolling your calf muscles can relieve those annoying aches and pains. Especially useful for runners and anyone suffering with a calf strain or achilles pain.
How to do it: Sit down on the floor (or yoga mat) and extend your legs straight out. Place a massage ball (such as the Lacrosse Massage Ball) underneath your calves and your hands on the floor for support. Slowly begin to roll your calf muscles by pressing your body weight into your calves and supporting yourself on your hands with your bum off the floor. Make sure you start and end right before the back of your knee. You can modify the intensity of the calf roll by crossing one leg over and placing it on top of the other leg.
How long for? Roll smoothly up and down for 2-3 minutes.
Name of exercise: Iliotibial Band Roll
Target muscles: IT Band Fascia Roll (Iliotibial Band)
Why do it? The IT Band (Iliotibial Band) is often referred to as the bane of a runner’s life. The pain is often caused due to friction against the outer edge of the knee joint, usually due to an overly active TFL, compensating for a lack of exercise in your gluteal muscles. A Meglio foam roller can help to reduce the muscular pain and ease the tension after exercise.
How to do it: Lie on one side with the foam roller just below your hip bone. With one leg extended straight out, bend your opposite knee and place it in front of your leg with your foot on the floor. For extra support, place your hand on the ground. Slowly roll your outer thigh from the hips, to just above your knee. Roll back and forth in a sweeping motion. Switch to your opposite leg and repeat.
How long for? Roll smoothly up and down for 2-3 minutes per leg.
Name of exercise: Glute Roll
Target muscles: Glutes
Why do it? Your glutes can be a tricky muscle group to warm up and activate. Often a neglected area of the body, glute pain can occur due to prolonged periods of sitting. Tight glutes can trigger pain across the rest of your body including your hips, back and knees. It’s vital to release the trigger points, allowing you to continue running at your optimum level.
How to do it: To begin, sit with one leg crossed over the other while placing yourself directly on top of your Meglio foam roller (or Lacrosse Massage Ball). Place your hands face down on the floor to provide support and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Gently begin to roll back and forth across your glutes. You can adjust the area of massage by moving your body weight just a few inches. Switch to the other leg and continue. Focus on identifying the tender areas known as trigger points and work more on those areas. Remember, whichever ankle is crossed over is the same side you’re sat on the roller or ball.
How long for? Roll smoothly up and down for 2-3 minutes per side.
Name of exercise: Standing Hip Extension
Target muscles: Glutes / Hamstrings
Why do it? This exercise really targets your hip extensors, which are critical for running.
How to do it: Place a Meglio resistance loop around your ankles and stand tall. While keeping your left leg straight and stable, engage your core and kick your right leg outwards. Hold for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position. You can hold on to a chair or the wall to keep yourself balanced. Don’t be tempted to rotate your hips. Instead, keep your focus on using your glutes.
How long for? 10-12 reps on each leg
Name of exercise: Side Leg Raise
Target Muscles: Glutes / Core
Why do it? This exercise will help work the muscles in your glutes and core, which will aid your stability, balance, and overall power.
How to do it: Lie on the floor, turn on your side and loop a Meglio resistance loop around your lower leg. Slowly raise your top leg while keeping your core stable, focus on squeezing from the glutes. Aim to perform this motion in a slow, controlled motion.
How long for? 12 reps on each leg
Now you’re fully up to speed about the use and importance of recovery tools, such as resistance bands and foam rollers, it’s time to practise the moves for yourself. Once you start incorporating these tools and exercises into your daily schedule, you’ll find your running routine transformed.
If you’ve ever been to see a physiotherapist, they will repeat, ‘consistency is key’. Stick to a recovery plan and make use of those inexpensive massage tools lying around your house.
Written by Oliver McLean – Meglio (www.mymeglio.com) Technical Manager
All images © Meglio