The importance of aftercare
When we start running, we tend only to be conscious of the run. That’s natural, because running is fun. But precisely because it’s fun, we should pay attention to caring for our bodies after the run, too.
Sufficient aftercare creates a fresh condition for the next run. Running in fresh condition feels better and, for runners aiming to set a record, results in cumulative effective training.
On the other hand, skipping aftercare leads to residual fatigue, which leads to poor performance, and then running isn’t fun. It’s not a problem if your “body feels a little rough” but running under a condition of muscle pain, etc. is linked to injury.
Dynamic stretches before exercise, static stretches after
The term “aftercare” covers a variety of practices including nutrition and recovery. Here’s an introduction to stretches and myofascial release.
Once upon a time, it was considered correct to “do the same stretches before and after exercise”, but recently that’s not the case. It’s now said that dynamic or “active” stretching before exercise, and static or “hold” stretching after exercise, is effective.
Dynamic stretching is a method of increasing joint mobility. The movement of the body increases blood flow and raises muscle temperature. It’s an optimal warmup.
On the other end, you have static stretching, the kind everybody has done, stretching from a fixed position. This is a no-recoil practice with the effect of relaxing the muscles. (* Relaxing is apparently why it’s not suitable before exercise.)
Static stretches, great for conditioning
1. Hamstrings, hip joint stretches
These are stretches for areas that are abused when running. Since muscles constrict with exercise, it’s effective to do these after running and before bed.
1. Sit on the floor with one leg out straight.
2. Bend the other leg at the knee and position the sole of the foot against your opposite inner thigh
3. Without bending your stretched leg, lean your upper body forward.If possible, grab the toes of your stretched leg. Hold for about 30 seconds.
After 30 seconds, switch leg positions and repeat. Breathe slowly while stretching.
2. Front thigh stretches
The muscles in your front thighs also get used when running. Relaxing these areas is connected to the prevention of knee pain, so give them proper care.
1. Sit with your upper body straight and stretch one leg forward.
2. Fold the knees of your stretched leg and other leg and stretch your thighs.
3. If you want or feel able to stretch further, lean your upper body back.Hold for about 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, switch leg positions and repeat.
Breathe slowly while stretching.
you can do with a tennis ball
A recent trend in aftercare is myofascial release. Many of you may know it already. Muscles are coated in a connective membrane (fascia). Exercise fatigue causes the fascia and muscles to constrict together, and relaxing them is called myofascial release. You can use a stretch ball or foam roller, or you can substitute a firm tennis ball.
You particularly want to care for your hips. They’re one of the largest muscle areas of the body, and running, of course, concentrates a lot of motion here. So, proper care is obviously good for running performance, but in every situation you can feel the improvement in your body’s condition.
The method is easy.
Lay down face up, pressing the tennis ball into the dip of your backside, and just roll around. You’d think it would hurt, but swivel and focus on this area. Remember to keep breathing, same as when you stretch.
When we care for painful areas, we tend to stop breathing to endure the pain, but be conscious of this and take deep breaths. This penetrates to deeper areas for strong results.
Aftercare is important to continue running happily. These are easy ways to care for your body, so please be sure to give them a try.