Monday, May 23, 2011

running sore and muscle rolling

i spent most of today laboring with each step i took, more sore than i can remember in recent memory.  yesterday was the new england region volleyball championships, in which i played.  (trust me when i tell you, if you haven't seen competitive volleyball first hand, it's not what you imagine:  this is NOT the game you play in your back yard at family reunions).  9 hours of jumping as high as i can to smash a volleyball to the floor took it's toll on my legs.  but, after work today, i was itching for some exercise, and, despite the fact that i was barely able to lift my legs, i felt a short jog might stretch them out a bit, make the soreness a bit easier to handle.

i set off to do a slow, 2 mile run.  i picked a new route i haven't run, along the charles river (nice and flat).  3 miles later i had put in my best 5K time of the year (somehow).

before i ran, i was sincerely wondering whether or not it was a good idea to run on sore legs.  one thing i know for certain is that when your muscles are sore, you are prone to running irregularly, and therefore more prone to injury.  my hope in running was to stretch my legs out, but i hoped i wouldn't impede their healing, or damage them in some way.  i figured that i'd let my body tell me as soon as i started running, and on such a short distance, if i needed to stop, i would.

but when i hit my stride, i literally couldn't slow myself down.  i was aware my pace was faster than normal (still well off where i wish i was, but oh well, it's a work in progress), but i felt completely natural.  i was certainly feeling the lactic acid building and my cardio was being pushed, but i never felt like stopping until i was near done with the loop.

pretty surprising given how i felt before the run.

another thing i have been doing lately (on the advice of todd's slower brother chad) is "rolling" my muscles.  this entails using a hard foam roller resting on the floor and using gravity and my body weight to apply pressure to the muscle while rolling back and forth.  i've been getting knots in my calves and overall they've felt very tight and sore (probably a by-product of trying to find a more natural footstrike, using less rigid shoes, more on that another time).  the rolling has quickly (i've only been doing it for 5 days now) shown results.  firstly, i hate stretching.  i know how important it is, and i certainly do it, but my muscles are very tight and i am not very flexible.  stretching just plain hurts.  muscle rolling intensifies that pain...  it's definitely not a comfortable thing to do.  but after a minute of two of rolling each calf and each hamstring, i'm better able to stretch, which is very important for me.  additionally, my calf pain/knots have not exactly gone away (yet) but have significantly diminished.  that very tight, "pumped" feeling in my calves has been relieved and overall muscle soreness is slightly relieved.

i have very limited experience with muscle rolling, but its definitely something i'm going to stick with for now.

i'll write more about it as i continue to learn.

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