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Soft Tissue Care For Runners [Foam Rolling, Stretching, Massage, Dry Needling]

Do you get tightness in your muscles or feel aches and pains during your running?  Do you know you should be doing stretching exercises to make you a better runner but you are not sure what you should be doing…😩?  We’re here to answer those questions and give you the best exercises to do in order to get stronger, faster and healthier as a runner.

 

The specific tips that I am going to share with you in this podcast episode and blog post are going to be the specific strategies that will translate to helping you crush your running goals 🏃🏻‍♀️

Click the video below to hear the LIVE training I did on this topic within the Healthy Runner Facebook Group

 

 

 

The last 4 blog articles we have been talking about the SPARK Blueprint and we’ve been discussing five principles. We’ve discussed the foundation of how to run stronger and healthier without injuries by strengthening 5 KEY RUNNING muscles, then we talked about adding plyometric or jump exercises into our training, and then finished up discussing the importance of training on one leg with your foot on the ground.

 

In the 5th episode of the Healthy Runner Podcast I wanted to cover the 4th tip for Healthy Running which is taking care of those muscles and tendons that log all those miles!

 

Why Should You Care?

 

The most common running related injuries are overuse injuries to the soft tissue. Whether it is hamstring strains, plantar fascitis, or iliotibial band syndrome (click the diagnosis in bold to learn more through a previous blog article!). All of these conditions involve some involvement to the soft tissue. Soft tissue refers to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue such as fascia. Treatment can be directed to the soft tissue as part of prehab to prevent injuries or may be provided during rehab following an injury.

 

What can you do to improve your muscle length or take care of your soft tissues to get rid of soreness or alleviate that tightness feeling? We are going to go from most conservative or least aggressive that you can do on your own and then progress to other techniques you can seek medical attention for. These can be broken up into 2 distinct groups. things you can do on your own in your home or the gym and then those that you can have a medical professional specializing in this area perform during a session.

 

Now let’s get into the 4 specific ways you can take care of your soft tissue or muscles to help you recover and perform at your best potential during your runs!

 

1. Foam Rolling

 

2. Stretching

 

3. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

 

4. Dry Needling

 

Here are the common questions I hear often and that I include on the podcast and in the LIVE YouTube video training above:
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Should I Add In Foam Rolling?

 

Foam Rolling For The Piriformis Muscle

 

Foam rolling is a soft tissue technique you can do in the comfort of your home or gym to help prime your body for your workouts or run. This can also be used after your runs to aide in recovery. Often times, foam rolling will “hurt so good” and most athletes I work with will feel looser after performing. I am acknowledging the research on why it feels good and the actual benefits are scarce in the research. Click here to read a nice article summing up the research and benefits of foam rolling.⠀⠀⠀

 

In the podcast episode, I take a deep dive into discussion the following talking points:

1. What does foam rolling actually do?

 

2. When should you perform foam rolling?

 

3. Should foam rolling be painful?

 

4. What is the difference between all the types of foam rollers?

 

5.Why you should perform foam rolling with active mobility

 

 

Listen to the Healthy Runner Podcast now in the player at the top of this article or on your favorite podcast player Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play

 

Want to learn how to foam roll your iliotibial band (ITB) or your calf muscles?  These are the two most common exercises I commonly give the runners I work with:

 

 

How To Foam Roll The ITB video CLICK HERE

 

Foam Rolling For The Calf Muscle

 

How To Foam Roll The Calf Muscles CLICK HERE

 

When is the best time to stretch? What types of stretching should I perform?

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Static Stretching To The Hamstring Muscles

 

Stretching your muscles and soft tissue are important to do both before your workouts or runs to prime your body as well as after to restore your muscles back to their resting length. Remember to perform active or dynamic stretching as part of a warm up before you run. Save the holding for prolonged positions or static stretching for after your runs.

 

Whenever we exercise a muscle with strength training we are causing physiological changes to the soft tissue aiding in the remolding process. This helps tissues become more resilient to the stresses that occur with running. This is using the power of exercise to not only get stronger to to aide in the healing process of certain soft tissues. An example of this would be using slow lowering calf raises to help chronic achilles pain. The lowering phase of the exercise is stimulating load to the tendon and aides in the remolding of that tendon so it can withstand force and not be painful during a run.

 

In the podcast episode we also take a deep dive into some of these common questions:

 

What is the difference between static and dynamic stretching?

 

How often should I stretch?

 

What does the latest research tell us about stretching?

 

Does stretching prevent injuries?

 

 

Click the video below to learn a 10 min static stretching program for you to do after your run!

 

Need some ideas for what to do before your runs?  CLICK THIS VIDEO to learn how to dynamically stretch your muscles for some movement prep!

 

For those of you local CT runners keep an eye out in our healthy runner FB group for our signature SPARK warm up at local road races!  Here we are at the New Haven Road Race.

 

 

What are those metal tools?

 

IASTM To The Calf Muscle For Achilles Pain In This Runner

 

The use of instruments is called Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization or Massage (IASTM) to achieve effects and benefits of soft tissue mobilization. Various tools designed for different body regions can feel more comfortable for a patient due to the uniform pressure applied with each of the strokes.

 

What is Dry Needling?

 

 

Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.

 

 

To hear if dry needling is the same as accupuncture click the video above to find out. If you are wondering what dry needling looks like and how it is performed for the calf muscle if you have tight calves or chronic achilles pain, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.

 

Dry Needling To Target The Shin Muscles For Shin Splints

 

In this article we covered why you should be performing routine self mobility and soft tissue care (restore and recover from running).  We talked about the 4 types of care you can provide being foam rolling, stretching, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, and dry needling.  Remember this is Tip #4 within our SPARK blueprint and is strategically placed as the 4th tip because it is not as important as strengthening is for your body!  In the last blog post of the SPARK blueprint, we will cover how to keep consistent and train smart with proper progression.

If any of this resonated with you I ask that you copy the link to this article and share it with a runner friend that needs to learn how to take care of their body!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and stay active, stay healthy, and just keep running!

 

Best regards

 

– Duane Scotti, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS

 

Do you want the learn what your body should be doing for Prehab like these exercises in order to stay healthy for your next half marathon?

At SPARK Physical Therapy , we have a unique treatment approach that focuses on solving these problems with our clients.

 

Our goal is to find the root cause of your previous running injuries and design a specific prehab program for your body in order to prevent that hamstring pain, achilles pain, or shin splints from coming back.

 

We do this by analyzing your running technique with video analysis and then take you through a full movement analysis and combine that information with your traditional muscle length, strength, and mobility tests to design a program that is specific to your body.

I have a commitment to you the runner at SPARK Physical Therapy

There are no long waits or multiple trips to providers’ offices every week.

 

I see you in a gym setting at a time that is convenient with your schedule.

 

One on one for a full hour with myself (a doctor of physical therapy, every visit.)

 

I provide you with a customized plan specifically designed for you, based off your unique injury and goals.

 

Full transparency in what you pay. You will never get a bill from us a couple of months after your visit.

 

Access and availability to you! Have a question about your pain or exercise program? You get an answer from me directly.

 

If you’re in the greater Hamden, CT area that has been dealing with pain or is looking to be proactive in your health of running and not reactive, I would love the opportunity to help! I’d love to chat for a few minutes and see if you are a good fit for how I help people.  Fill in this CONTACT REQUEST LINK  and we’ll set up a free 20-minute phone consultation with a doctor of physical therapy.

 

 

 

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In one word, TRUST. You can trust Duane Scotti to provide you with exceptional healthcare. My daughter is a competitive gymnast and has seen Duane every other week (pretty much) for 6 months. He has treated her for reoccurring heel pain and overall leg flexibility (and other aches and pains here and there). He has kept her in top condition despite the daily abuse her body takes from this relentless sport. He is excellent at listening to the athlete’s concerns, treating the problem, teaching the athlete how to maintain her health, and communicating with the parent. I highly recommend Duane, he is beyond exceptional.

Kirsten S. (Gymnast Mom)

Knowing that Duane fully understands the dance world and what it takes to be a dancer makes physical therapy with him one of a kind. He is able to personalize my rehabilitation and have me ready for whatever competition, performance or training I had coming up. Our sessions were always filled with laughter and I always felt like I was able to understand each step of the healing process. I felt stronger and more prepared to continue my rigorous dance training after my treatment with Duane! I would highly recommend Spark Physical Therapy to any performer and I’m grateful that I’ve had the experience to learn and work with them!!

Allie. E (Dancer)

SPARK Physical Therapy was instrumental in my recovery of from achilles tendinitis. I visited a podiatrist who said I would need surgery to shave down a bone spur and Haglund’s Deformity. The recovery would be at least 8 weeks and at the time I was 24 weeks from running the NYC Marathon. Duane evaluated me and said I needed to work on my calf muscle and flexibility. We started treatment with dry needling and specific exercises that I could do on my own. The pain subsided and even after some long runs everything was starting to feel better. I will tell you that I ran and finished the NYC Marathon without pain or issues from my achilles. Had I not met Duane about a week after my podiatrist appointment I would have needed to defer my marathon and probably would still be recovering from the surgery. I was able to run through my injury safely and achieve my goal. The refreshing thing about SPARK Physical Therapy is they do not push for ton of session. I met my running goals in 10 sessions spread out over 3-4 months. Big Thank you to Duane and I highly recommend seeing him for any running injury you may have!

 

Louis G.(Runner)

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