What to do when it hurts to run.
You love to run. It’s a nearly overwhelming blast to the senses: the sun on your face, the wind rushing past your ears, your heart pounding, your breathing measured, your mind focused on willing your body to push farther, faster than before. Running is at once challenging and exhilarating. The process of training for your next race is a grind, but the grind of training is also your muse-that thing that keeps you pushing ahead.
There is a certain measure of honor and valor in being a dedicated runner. Suffering for your sport is baked into the whole deal. Pain, in a very real sense, is a part of you becoming better. Until it becomes too much.
And that’s why we’re here today, to deal with pain when it doesn’t make you a better runner. If you want to run your best, and run not just today, but for the rest of your days, these are the standards you need to be striving to meet as a part of your regular practice of training and running:
#3-A Supple Thoracic Spine
#4-An Efficient Squatting Technique
#5 Hip Flexion
#6 Hip Extension
#7 Ankle Range of Motion
#8 Warming Up and Cooling Down
#10 No Hot Spots
No hot spots is about being responsible for your body. It’s o.k. to push yourself but you have to be in tune with the signals your body is sending you. That gnawing pain in your Achilles, that stabbing pain under your kneecap, that deep ache you get in your hip joint, the throbbing in your low back you get after every run, those are smoke signals your body is sending up to your brain, telling you something is amiss. As we discussed earlier in this series: If you have pain while you are running or after you are done running, then what you were doing was not a functional activity.
Our key motivation here is simple: we want you to run for a long time. The ability to run well speaks highly of your body’s physical capacity to perform in a number of ways: postural stability, posterior chain power, foot and ankle strength, and aerobic/anaerobic capacity. There’s no shame in finding holes in your running game and addressing them. It’s in this way that we can ensure you’ll be able to run for years to come.
If you grab a foam roll or a lacrosse ball or any other sort of soft tissue massage tool, and upon compressing your tissues get a painful response, those tissues are not normal. Normal tissue doesn’t hurt under compression. Tissue that hurts to compress is tissue that doesn’t have the normal capacity to expand and contract as you run. We’ve covered the why, how, and when to do soft-tissue massage here.
Today we’re going to introduce a different way to deal with your hotspots: compression. This isn’t compression in the recovery sense that we talked about with standard #9, or even the foam rolling, ball-based soft tissue techniques previously mentioned. Instead we’re going to use high compression forces to create a dynamic restorative and healing response in those sticky tissues. How? Welcome to VooDoo Floss Band Compression.
The Voodoo Floss Band is so named because it works in a variety of ways to help your tissues feel better. You won’t know exactly why it worked, but after you’ve done it you’ll know you’re better. Intermittent high compression does several things for hot tissues and joints:
- Restores sliding surface function. Your tissues are meant to glide over each other, not stick together. Compression of a point of sliding surface dysfunction creates a shearing effect that restores normal sliding surface function.
- Pushes swelling back into the lymphatic system. A swollen ankle or knee has a hard time getting that swelling out the area as those joint are in a dependent (against gravity position) that makes it nearly impossible to the lymphatic system to function properly. Flossing pushes that swelling back into the lymphatic system.
- Enhances normal joint mechanics. A joint that is blown out with swelling has a hard time operating efficiently when walking or running. Swelling presses on the peripheral nerves that give your brain a sense of where that joint is in relation to the rest of your body. This is what physical therapists refer to as “proprioception”. This ability is a significant determinant in your ability to stay injury-free. Also, compression of a joint creates a “gapping” effect that decreases the physical load in the joint.
- Accelerates healing times. Intermittently restricting then restoring blood flow to an injured area enhances circulation-the main way your body deals with injured tissues.
Here are a few different ways to use the VooDoo Floss Band. Always wrap towards the heart, applying 75 stretch over the problem area, 50 percent stretch in the rest of the band, and leave some slack at the top so you can anchor the band in place. Remember the upstream/downstream model of dealing with pain: if you knee hurts you need to compress and treat both your lower leg and your thigh.
Start below your knee cap and wrap upwards, overlapping by half the width of the band with each pass.
Flex and extend your knee 30 to 50 times (princess mirror optional).
Start the band and the front of your ankle and wrap behind and over your Achilles, starting just above your heel bone and working upwards. Before the band covers your calf muscles, overlap it back down towards your heel.
Alternately push your foot down then pull it up towards your shin, for 30 to 50 repetitions.
IT Band Pain
Start the wrap below the area of your IT band that hurts, then wrap upwards.
Find something to hold onto and work in and out of the deep squat position for (you guessed it) 30 to 50 reps.
For any of these techniques, a few simple guidelines are important to follow:
- If it feels sketchy, it’s sketchy. Don’t try to work through weird pain.
- If you wrap a part of your body and it goes tingles, burns, or goes numb, take the band off.
- If you find it hard to breath and you feel anxious when you put the band on, take it off.
- It will usually take between 2 to 5 rounds of these techniques to affect a change that will last. A good general rule of thumb for the floss band is two minutes on, two minutes off.
- If you take the band off and you see stripes on your skin and it suddenly turns bright red-good job! This is the normal response of the body to compression. The flushing of the skin is a sign that you’ve increased local blood flow in the area you just compressed. The stripes and the redness will subside within a matter of minutes.
If you get a good result with the floss band techniques outlined above, stay after it! In some cases it may take several days in a row of using this technique to create the improvement you’re looking for. This technique is a great complement to other soft-tissue techniques like foam rolling in that it covers a host of factors that influence tissue mobility that simple rolling just doesn’t address.
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