Thursday 29 September 2016

The official Vhi Women's Mini Marathon cool down

Whether you are a runner, a jogger or a walker, physiotherapist Helen French has some expert advice to keep you in tip-top form following today's race

Published 06/06/2016 | 02:30

Photo posed by model.
Photo posed by model.

You have made it. You have put in weeks, if not months of training and now finally the day we have all been waiting for has arrived; the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon is upon us. Here's some tips for before and after today's race.

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Pre-race

There are different types of stretches; dynamic stretches are good before an event because they start to warm up the body. These include movements like walking lunges and high kicks for extending the hamstrings rather than more static stretching where one might hold certain positions on the ground for 30-second periods. You want to get your muscles warmed up before an event so that you are not running on them cold.

Dynamic Warm-up: Includes easy jogging, short stride-outs and dynamic drills, for example heel kicks, high knee running, skipping and trunk rotations. Allow 10-15 minutes to complete. Follow this with short duration dynamic stretches of the main leg muscle groups; glutes, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, for example squats and lunges.

Post-race

Remember to keep moving after you have crossed the finish line. Active recovery is a very important mechanism to reduce injury after an event such as the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon and it will prevent joint stiffness and muscle tightness.

Active Recovery: Continue some very light aerobic exercises and work on bringing down your heart rate slowly, allowing your muscles to recover. For people who are running, the best active recovery is just to keep walking; don't just stop at the finishing line, which is often the tendency because people get tired. Keep walking for a few minutes and incorporate some gentle static stretches at the end of this recovery period. Some muscle groups are under more pressure when you are running. The typical groups would be the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, the calf muscles, your quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh and the hip flexors.

Static Stretching: Stretch the muscle to the point of tension, hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat two to three times; performed after running to reduce muscle tension, increase muscle length and aid recovery.

Active Stretching: Proven to increase long-term muscle flexibility, and joint range of movement. It involves contracting the opposing muscle group to allow the target muscle to relax. For example lying on your back use the quadriceps muscle to raise your leg in order to stretch the hamstring muscle (back of the thigh). You may use your hands, a towel or a rope to gently enhance the stretch. Hold for three seconds, repeat five to 10 times.

Foam Rolling: This a great piece of equipment that can be used to self-release muscles that tighten during running. Roll the 'tender spot' in your muscle over the foam roller - hold each pressure point for approximately 30 seconds repeating each exercise for one to two minutes.

* Helen French is a member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, supporter of the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon. Check out the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists' cool-down area at the Reunion at Merrion Square after the Marathon

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