Post-run recovery, particularly when lingering aches and pains are involved, is of utmost importance in order to perform your best. However, what happens when you have exhausted your options from the list of “traditional” recovery techniques, such as massage and compression sleeves? Listed below are alternative forms of recovery guaranteed to speak to your hippy heart.
If you watched the Rio Olympics, you likely saw athletes (primarily swimmers and gymnasts) covered in circular, hickey-like bruises. This was the result of cupping, which is an ancient form of massage rooted in Chinese medicine. A glass or rubber cup is suctioned against the skin in areas where muscle adhesion is detected, drawing blood flow through the affected areas for healing. This method can be beneficial for runners experiencing runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, or shin splints.
Another method taken from Chinese medicine is acupuncture, which involves inserting long, thin needles into acupressure points along the body’s energy meridians. Acupuncture is used as both prevention and treatment, primarily for issues such as tendonitis or IT band pain. This recovery method is believed to trigger the body’s natural healing responses in order to fight chronic inflammation. If you're in the New York area, check out our list of great healers and acupuncturists for runners. Also check out a similar therapy - dry needlling - which might also help running injuries.
For runners that believe in the mind – body – spirit connection, energy therapy is a tool that can help bring these three components into balance, helping to maximize mental and physical well-being. For runners, this can mean stripping away layers of negative energy that may be contributing to common injuries, such as knee or ankle pain while improving circulation and immune response.
Thai Yoga Massage
Most runners know that both yoga (for runners) and massage can be beneficial for post-run recovery, but what about combining the two for the ultimate restorative activity? During a Thai yoga massage session the practitioner will guide the runner through a series of yoga poses while placing gentle pressure on the body’s energy meridians and pressure points. This synergistic combination relieves muscle tension, improves blood flow, supports the immune system, and restores balance within the body.
Did you catch a tree root during your trail run and take a nasty fall, or have an exceptionally bad Graston session, leaving your IT band bruised? Instead of taking ibuprofen, which can be harmful to a runner’s stomach lining, try arnica gel. Arnica is an herb with roots in homeopathy that is indicated for muscle and joint pain, as well as bruising and inflammation. Sold in cream or gel form that can be purchased at any local drug store, arnica works to reduce the body’s inflammatory response to reduce pain and bruising. Our favorite source for the highest quality Arnica muscle soother is from Ravencrest Botanicals, where it's grown organically and all products are made by hand.
From a biological perspective, a major component of post-run recovery is reducing inflammation in our bodies. One way to do so is to consume plenty of polyphenols and antioxidants, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties thanks to their ability to improve the shuttling of oxygen throughout the bloodstream. A top recovery tea is Guayusa Tea, which not only tastes really good, but has twice the amount of antioxidants as green tea, approximately 65 grams of caffeine, and beneficial amounts of chlorogenic and amino acids, which promote muscle recovery and repair. Haven't had it yet? Try RUNA tea - they're great, and another Brooklyn brand!
Guest contributor/run blogger Anna Weber is a 2:38 marathoner (!) and qualified for the Olympic Trails, runs with our friends over at Oiselle (only love for them here!), a Nuun and Zensah ambassador, a chemist and a believer in karma (like us!). Follow Anna and her running career online here: Twitter @Anna_Weber413, Instagram @anna_weber413 /, blog: AnnaWeberRuns