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Muscle Health when running for marathon training

Muscle Health when running for marathon training

By Lesley Tashlin RMT
Registered Massage Therapist

12 Apr 2019

Muscle Health when running for marathon training

Spring Training Transition

It's hard to believe that we are already three months into the new year. Where does the time go? With all the sunshine we have been experiencing I find myself anxious for spring to get here. Not the official start of spring but real spring where I can wander around the yard and see what plants have poked their heads out of the cold ground. When I look outside now it seems as though spring is buried away, still tucked under two feet of snow. I am sure there are others who are feeling similarly. Those who want to shed the layers of winter clothes, get outside and enjoy the fresh air without the fear of falling on the ice and possibly fracturing something.

So for all the people who are well into their marathon training for the May race weekend and those transitioning from doing workouts on a treadmill to the road I want to share a few points that may be helpful.

Firstly, running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside and your body will need time to adjust. The treadmills that most people have access to are motorized and running on these do not always allow our bodies to engage our gluteal and hamstring muscles to propel us forward, but rather more singularly focus the work on using our hip flexors. Let me share an example: one winter our track and field club did not have anywhere in the city where we could do sprint training so the decision was made to use a high speed treadmill. I managed to get up to some pretty high speeds on it and felt confident that the coming season was going to be a good one. That was until my first competition of the season. Unbeknownst to me my gluteal and hamstring muscles had been taking a vacation during the treadmill sessions and were not at all responsive once I was on the track! So my advice is to still do your treadmill workouts but always include exercises that will wake up and engage your running muscle groups. Dynamic step-ups and jump squats are just a couple of exercises that would do the trick.

Secondly, the surface of a treadmill is smooth and somewhat shock absorbing whereas the frozen pavement and concrete sidewalks are not! Also, when you run on the side of the road the surface is not flat but sloped due to the crown of the road. This change in surface causes there to be different stresses through your muscles, bones and joints that can cause aches and pains to develop. This is a prime time for shin splints and plantar fasciitis symptoms to show up, seemingly out of nowhere. To avoid ending up with injuries that could keep you from your goals this summer it is important to take extra care of your body. Take the time to properly stretch your muscles on your own, in a yoga class or with the help of an app. Choose whatever works best for you. Foam rolling and regular massages will be helpful, along with making sure you are getting enough magnesium either through supplements, epsom salt baths or both. Magnesium is a key mineral for ensuring your muscles are able to relax.

The third point I would like to share with you is that your muscles prefer to be kept warm. While the temperature outside is slowly going up do not be too anxious to shed the layers or your muscles will be too chilled. I strongly recommend that you continue to dress in lighter layers that you can remove and add as needed. That extra layer might be just what you need to keep from stiffening or cramping up.

For those of us who can't wait to get digging in the garden now is the time that we too can prepare ourselves with regular stretching and strength training.

May we all stay healthy and achieve our goals this summer.

Lesley has been a registered member with College of Massage Therapists of Ontario since graduating from the International Academy of Massage in 2006. Lesley has a nine year history of training and competing as an elite level athlete in the 100m hurdles. She represented Canada at the Commonwealth Games in 1994 and 1998, the Pan American Games in 1995 and 1999, the1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and Jeux de la Francophonie in 2001.


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