If Your Legs are Burning, You Should Read This
Aaron De Jong of Movement 108 shows how to take your post-race routine the extra mile by entering a recovery state.
Running comes with great rewards, and also sore legs, strained backs and pain in places you probably didn’t even know could hurt. When you’re going the distance for a long race, adding one more element to race day — time to recover — can help you look back on your race with fondness, and maybe even sign up for another.
We sat down with Aaron De Jong, fitness expert and founder of MOVR personal training app and fitness studio fitness studio Movement 108, for some tips to help your body feel better after your run. We’ll also be partnering at lululemon’s SeaWheeze at a magical place called Feel Better Bay, helping runners get back on their feet with movement and essential oils. If you’re pounding the pavement this weekend, come by and see us.
Aaron: Essentially, exercise is a form of stress. If we don’t actively turn the stress in our bodies off, that stress will just keep running in the background and won’t allow you to prepare for the rest of your day. The recovery state is different than stretching. It’s important to relieve tightness and tension through stretching, but this activity shouldn’t be confused with active recovery, which is a healing mode.
So, how do we get a personal best in recovery? We don’t need to look any further than under our runners for the perfect tool: the floor. If your heart rate is settled and your breathing is regular, then take some time to lay down and just breathe.
Aaron: The most restful state you can put your body in is to lie on your back and connect as much as you can to the ground. Think of the classic savasana, or corpse pose, at the end of a yoga class. By laying on the floor you are asking your body to do the least amount of work possible. Then, you have time and space to focus on your breathing.
We often overlook our breathing, but deep, calm inhales and exhales is one of the best ways to help your body enter a recovery state. Calm breathing tells your body you’re safe and it’s okay to relax. Going from a highly stressed state — like running — to a highly relaxed state is going to help blood flow through your entire body. Your body will respond by starting repair work to your muscles and joints, instead of staying primed for more stress.
Keep your head above your heart until you can comfortably lie down. Keep your body moving with gentle walking until you can breathe normally and your heart rate has calmed down. Lay on the floor and place one hand just below your sternum. Focus on filling your lungs slowly, then emptying them fully. Feel your hand rise and fall with each breath and allow your body to sink into the floor. Your goal is to let your muscles turn off and allow your mind and body to relax.
Block it out
Sometimes your body needs some extra support to enter a full state of relaxation. Using a yoga block can help you access poses without accidentally adding more stress. Remember: the goal is to give your muscles a chance to turn off and heal. After pounding the pavement for two hours, your hip flexors are probably going to want some support and attention.
Aaron: When your hip flexors are still working, it’s like little alarm bells in your hips telling your legs that it’s go-time. Put your body into a position where you can focus on deep breathing and allow your muscles to turn off without being overstretched. Letting your hip flexors relax without overstretching them will stop the stress signals from flowing to the other big muscles in your legs.
Try laying on the floor and bringing one leg across the other for a hip twist position. Put the block under the top knee so that your hips aren’t pulled further than necessary. Then, relax your entire body and let the hip release.
You can also try putting the block under your sacrum (bony area below the spine and above the glute muscles) and draping your torso towards the floor. This recovery position will help lengthen the front of the hips and calm the muscles in the front of your legs. (If you have any pain or discomfort in the lower back whatsoever, leave this move out of your plan.)
Elevate with the essentials
Aaron: Supporting your body by entering a relaxed state after exercise is going to help you heal. Adding essential oils to your recovery time gives you the sense that you are being well taken care of, and brings more focus to your breathing, which is the most important part of active recovery.
Support your recovery with blends formulated to help the body release pain and tension. Peppermint Halo Headache Remedy is primarily used to relieve headaches, but the analgesic properties of this blend can bring cooling, stimulating relief to any area of the body. Tired legs and feet will thank you for the addition of lavender, rosemary and peppermint essential oils, all working together to increase blood flow and relieve pain from overexertion.
Rolling Pain Release Analgesic Remedy onto hardworking leg muscles and gently massaging in will bring soothing relief to your muscles and joints. You can also roll this blend of lavender, marjoram and rosemary essential oils on the palms of your hands and inhale the benefits, including deeper breathing.
Keep your cooldown momentum going and check out the Runner’s Toolbox on Movement 108’s app, MOVR. You’ll find resources and routines to keep you inspired to move with ease and strength. And, if you’re at Seawheeze, head to Feel Better Bay and get into a recovery state of mind with us and Movement 108!