While the running world has come a long way in terms of its injury prevention and rehabilitation tools, believe it or not some of the most useful training tools can be found laying around your house; most often being used for their primary ‘non-running related’ function. Save money, and impress your friends by using the following home remedies to become a healthier, happier, and perhaps even faster runner.
The Rolling Pin
After complaining about tight IT bands (iliotibial bands), while visiting my in-laws this week, my mother-in-law, a former community college runner and queen of improv, handed me her 1980s wooden rolling pin. At first I looked bewildered, but quickly realized that this closely resembled my fancy “stick” at home. I grabbed the rolling pin and got to work, imagining all the yummy Christmas cookies my husband had eaten as a kid as a result of this pin. Oh the beauty of multi- functional tools! See also: self-myofascial release tools.
Tennis Ball/Golf Ball
You aren’t a real runner if you haven’t struggled with plantar-fasciitis (tight archs) at one point or another. At work or at home, sit in a chair and roll your arch on a tennis ball or golf ball depending on your pain tolerance and degree of inflammation. The tennis ball is much more tolerable to begin with.
Softball and a Tube Sock
Booty-lock anyone? Put a softball (not a baseball; unless of course you’ve been doing Richard Simmons’ Buns of Steel workouts for 20 years) into a tube sock. The tube sock provides extra cushioning so feel free to use a thick, extra-padded ski sock if you have one laying around. Lie down to position the ball in your irritated glut area. Supporting your body with your hand, move the ball around the tight areas, pausing and applying more weight to ‘knotty’ areas. This can be painful. I recommend icing the treated area after. See also: Hip Strengthening Routine.
Our feet and lower legs play a major role in allowing us to run efficiently. These non-major muscles and their smaller tendon and ligament friends often get overworked and sometimes abused if our form is sub-par. Because of the high demands we place on these muscles it is crucial that we have excellent neuromuscular control in this region, to prevent injury and increase performance. Keep your feet happy with these feet-specific home remedies…
Sit in a chair, and place a dishtowel below your feet. Using the power of your toes, bunch the towel up by scrunching your toes several times. Lie out the towel again and repeat with other foot. Start with 3 repetitions on each foot and progress to 5. This can be done at home or at work.
Marbles & A Bucket
Sit in a chair with a bucket (6-12 in. height), and 8-12 marbles beside the bucket. Using your toes pick up the marbles and place them in the bucket. Repeat with other foot. Start with 2 repetitions on each foot and progress to 4. When you master this try taking the marbles out of the bucket with your feet, one at a time.
Stairs are an excellent place to strengthen and stretch you’re lower legs; in particular your calves and soleus’ (muscle beneath your calf). To strengthen you can perform ‘calf raises’. Using the edge of a stair as your base and the railing to help you balance, slowly rise up onto your toes, and lower with control. Be sure not to lower your leg past even with the stair to avoid injury. To simulate running, whereby we are never on both feet at the same time, be sure to perform this exercise one leg at a time. To stretch, simply place your toes and forefoot on the edge of the stair and lower down your heel. Avoid this stretch if you have any achilles-tendon issues whatsoever.
There is a new use for your kid’s Disney designed mouth-rinsing cups. You know the ones that measure about 2.5 inches tall and are sold in sleeves of 50-100. These cups are just the size to create a small ice block that can be used for the highly effective ice massage.
Ice massage is appropriate immediately following your workout, and throughout the day as needed. Sit anywhere that you are comfortable and place a towel beneath the area you are icing. This is an effective way to bring down inflammation in an isolated area.
Fill cups about 3/4 of the way full and set in the freezer. Once frozen tear off the top centimeter of paper so that the block of ice shows through. Begin by gently massaging the area that is inflamed or causing you pain. Increase pressure if no pain exists. Try icing the area for 15 minutes (3 x 5 min with 2-3 minutes in between sets to prevent “burning” your skin). See also: Shin Splint Prevention Routine.
Do you have a home remedy of your own? Share it with fellow runners on our facebook page.