Saori Imamura


Special advice from Ms. Imamura on post-run aftercare

In this third issue, Ms. Saori Imamura, a Shiseido Running Club member since graduating university in 2018, shares her advice on running aftercare. What’s the collegiate champion’s secret to shrugging off fatigue?

Thu, Nov. 1, 2018

Athletes in a corporate team have professional know-how when it comes to post-run aftercare. But amateur runners and beginners, too, can benefit from good body care after a run.

This time, rookie corporate athlete Ms. Imamura, who claimed a splendid victory in last year’s national intercollegiate competition, advises us on some post-training care methods, which can be often overlooked.

ADVICEProfessional advice on running

Saori Imamura

Aftercare is the first step in a lasting commitment

Do you know that aftercare is the first step toward lasting success in running? Without adequate care, your knees, ankles, hips – the places that get abused during a run –suffer in ways that later affect your daily life and training.

It’s hard to continue running if you get injured. All that effort you put into starting, only to fail midway... it’s more likely to happen than you think. Please, be sure not to skip aftercare.

The basis of aftercare is icing

Saori Imamura

Many have probably heard the word “icing”, but few actually practice it. Icing is important after you finish a run. The simplest method is to put some ice on your strained legs. The knees, thighs, ankles and calves all retain heat, so you should apply ice to the affected areas, cooling for 30 seconds to one minute.

Personally, after running I do aftercare at a spa about twice a week. Muscle fatigue is intense particularly after hard training, so I find it indispensable to alternately soak in cold and hot water: one or two minutes of cold water, then soak about five minutes in hot water, back and forth 3-5 times. Also, when recovering from fatigue I use the sauna a lot. It helps boost the blood flow and makes it easier to purge the lactic acid that causes fatigue. If there’s a facility with a sauna near you, give it a try.

Don’t forget to stretch and massage

Icing isn’t the only important thing in aftercare. Stretching and massage are also effective.

The point of stretching is to comfortably loosen your muscles without recoil. Don’t stop breathing; inhale in timing with your stretch and exhale slowly. Don’t overstretch. It’s enough to stop shy of feeling pain. For massage, it’s important to perform not with an image of strongly hitting or kneading, but lightly rubbing the extremities working toward your core. Massage gently with a focus on the arches of your feet, outer shins, calves and thighs.

Thanks to Ms. Imamura for her words of wisdom. Next, here’s a collection of aftercare tips.


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.

“Myofascial release”
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.

Saori Imamura


Shiseido Running Club

Began track and field in junior high. Shifted to her current focus on 5,000m and 10,000m events after entering university, and blossomed in a splendid national victory in the Inter-University Athletic Union of Japan in 2017. Ms. Imamura is into “early mornings” lately. On her days off, she wakes up early to explore towns with her friends, seeking nice breakfast, or clean her room. She loves basketball and follows B.LEAGUE games as a fan. Her next goals are contributing to her team in Ekiden, and to compete internationally. She also aims to represent Japan in the 10,000m event.