For the rest of the month, we’ll be counting down the top running trends we see taking shape in 2012. Feel free to check back at the end of the year to see where our crystal ball was a bit cracked and where it was “crystal” clear!
We’re starting off with Trend #10: Focus on Recovery. Sure, runners have been icing injuries, using compression and spending some well-earned downtime on the couch for years. But now, more runners are integrating recovery into their training regimen. One big trend in particular that we see continuing is the use of foam rollers for self myofacial release.
For the initiated, foam rollers may seem heaven sent. But if you’ve never used a foam roller, you’re probably wondering how a few feet of foam can make much of a difference in your life. Here’s a brief glimpse into what you could be missing:
- Increased Flexibility: A layer of connective tissue wraps and connect the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Tightness and restricted range of motion can develop when this tissue, known as the superficial fascia, adheres to the underlying muscle. Foam roller exercises break down adhesions (more commonly known as muscle knots) and soften the superficial fascia through the application of targeted pressure and traction (rolling).
- Improved Comfort: People using a foam roller often experience that “hurts so good” feeling that comes along with a professional massage. The roller can help your body to flush out metabolic waste and re-oxygenate your muscles, both of which keep muscle pain to a minimum.
But using a foam roller certainly isn’t the only recovery technique out there. And recovery’s not just something you deal with or go through after a run anymore. More coaches this year will be integrating recovery techniques such as massage therapy, chiropractic treatment and water therapy into their workout plans to help athletes reduce pain while improving mobility and flexibility. Runners who plan for recovery and diligently follow through will have a leg up (a more flexible, healthy leg, we might add) as they train and race in 2012.