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Adding massage to your cool down after running can enhance flexibility

January 16, 2014

When you work a full-time, 9-to-5 job, it can be challenging to squeeze in regular workouts each week. That’s why exercising on commercial fitness equipment is convenient before or after work, or even on your lunch break. And though you may feel like you’re on a time crunch, it’s still important to fit in that all-important cool down. After a great run on commercial treadmills, you’re sure to be feeling strong and successful for completing a session, but if you head right into the shower without taking the time to loosen up those leg muscles that tightened up during your run, you could be leaving yourself at​-risk for injury. To loosen up your calves, quads and hamstrings, take a few minutes to stretch. You can also try self-myofascial release, which is a fancy phrase for self-massage. Using different pieces of equipment, you can work out knots that have built up to improve your flexibility and range of motion in the lower half of your body. Ways to use self​-myofascial release For really painful spots of tension and knots, a tennis or racquet ball works great. Simply place the ball on the floor and apply the area with the knot above it. Using pressure, find the tender spot and breathe deeply for about 30 seconds to help release it. If you get cramps in your calves a lot, it can be useful to work out some of the trigger points that have built up from many hours spent running on commercial ellipticals. If the sides of your thighs, also known as your iliotibial bands, always feel tight, using a foam roller is a great option to stretch those muscles out. Place the foam roller on the floor and lay across it on one side of your body with the top of your knee on the roller. Slowly move up and down using your outer thigh, stopping and applying extra pressure to the more painful spots. While it may be an uncomfortable process, the more you do it, the looser your iliotibial bands will become and you’ll see improvements in your running skills. Your quads are a big muscle group, so if they become injured are or in pain, it can take you away from the gym. To relax those muscles, try using a quad roller, which is a padded roller with two wheels on each end. The setup of the tool allows you to apply plenty of pressure to the knots and tight muscles. Lay facing down with the roller under your thighs. Like the foam roller technique, slowly move up and down, stopping where you find knots and breathing deeply to help them release.