As one starts running longer distances, one starts recognizing the difference between an ache (muscles and body getting used to new work-out) and pain. 2014 was a year of all sort of painful injuries and, as a result, a lot of learning (not).
A runner friend once told me to cut down on the distance I was planning to run – in case of paucity of time – but never to miss out on dynamic stretches and foam rolling before and static stretches post the run. I paid a very heavy price for not following her advise. But then runners are a stubborn bunch (that also explains why we are able to run unfathomable distances). I kept running on tight calves despite knowing it’s foolish to run in so much pain. It resulted in a micro fibre tear! (What now?)
My physiotherapist suggested that in order to release the knots formed around my calves (trigger points which are extremely painful and from where the pain radiates), we use the dry needling method*.
Dry needling is used for dysfunctional muscles, encouraging the muscles to release chemicals. The release of these chemicals helps the muscles loosen and relax. Think of it as the deepest deep tissue
massage you have ever experienced.
I put all my faith in him and went ahead with it. He inserted about 5-6 needles into certain knotted areas (and moved the needles slightly) to release the muscle.
Overall the experience of needling wasn’t too bad except it left my legs sore for a few days. But the relief I felt was tremendous, as if a lot of weight has been lifted from my ankles. I felt really light and ran a very happy half marathon in Bangkok. So, I’m kind of sold to the idea of this alternative technique to release tight muscles, if it comes to that. But I also believe that the right chiropractor or physiotherapist is the key.
Having said that, now I’m serious about my stretches. It is critical to warm up before a run to ensure proper blood flow to the working area, it also improves the flexibility of muscles and range of motion.
While static stretching post a run is to help the body relax and return to a steady state of rest. There is decrease in muscle tension and increase in muscle relaxation which is important to avoid injuries.
I will write a blog entry soon enough on dynamic and static stretching which has helped me.
* According to the Dry Needling Institute:
“Traditional Acupuncture is used for the diagnosis and treatment of pathological conditions including visceral and systemic dysfunction, while dry needling is used for the assessment and treatment of
myofacial pain syndromes and dysfunction due to myofacial trigger points / tension areas / muscle spasm / increased tonicity.”