This guest blog is written by Mel Wiltshire, a mum of 2 pre-schoolers from a farm in Hertfordshire and our Mountain Buggy Terrain Ambassador.
Once upon a time ago, I played a lot of sport. I was fortunate enough to work with a top class strength and conditioning coach, who transformed my fitness. Whilst chatting to a group of us one day, he mentioned something about not having to stretch at the end of a game/training session – music to my ears! I basically switched off there and then and have taken this as gospel ever since. Fast forward a few years and call it age/ two pregnancies/ one child or another stuck to my hip for the past three years, but I’m finding myself with more aches and pains than ever. I’ve ignored it for long enough, however the fact is I can’t get away with such a flippant disregard for my body, so I’m turning my attention to post-run recovery.
I’ve tested out a couple of different recovery aids and here’s the low down on what I discovered….
The first time I encountered one of these bad boys was circa 2004. It was presented to us at a training weekend as the next best thing to sports massage. Oh, and while we are on the topic, the words ‘sport’ and ‘massage’ are not compatible. A sports massage is in no way relaxing, and will most likely result in a lot of expletives! So, how does this roll of foam work? Well, the box says that it limits soreness and stiffness by promoting blood flow and breaking down adhesions. I have to be fair, the foam roller is fairly true to its promise, especially in the IT (iliotibial) band area. Here’s a brief description of how to use it:
Iliotibial Band foam rolling
Lie on your right side with the foam roller just above your knee bone. Extend your right leg straight out, and bend your left leg and place it in front of your right leg. Place your right hand on the floor for balance, and roll along your outer thigh from the knee bone to just below your hip bone. Repeat on the other side
I foam rollered (it’s a word) my IT band three times per week for three weeks*, and I have to say it did help. It hurt, but I got used to it and even weirdly looked forward to it – it’s quite a satisfying pain, if there is such a thing. Someone once explained it as thinking of your muscle as a tube of toothpaste, and the foam roller is squeezing the bad stuff out, which I think is a fairly accurate way of describing the sensation!
Cheap, quick and satisfying. Can be done anywhere!
Hard to foam roll some areas of your body e.g I find it difficult to generate enough pressure on my calves.
*ok fine so I didn’t actually do this in such a regimented way because, you know, kids. BUT, I did use it and it does work!
Acupressure mat aka BED OF NAILS
Husband: ‘What’s that?’
Me: ‘A bed of nails’
Husband: Presses hand on bed of nails and yelps with pain
Me: Face palm.
I came across this acupressure mat on one of the occasions that I’ve fallen deep into the Instagram rabbit hole. The promise of endorphins being triggered, stress reduction and an overall sense of wellbeing had me straight on amazon prime - I’m a marketing person’s dream! It’s recommended that you lie on it for 20 minutes (hmmm..) each day on your back/ front/ stand on it and reap the benefits. I haven’t been able to stomach lying on my front (ba-boom ching) but I have tried the other two positions and I sort of love it! I hold a lot of tension in my back, and even if lying on this just helps me to be still for 5 mins without fidgeting, checking my phone, watching tv etc, then it’s a success.
Genuinely relaxing, cheap
It’s relatively small, the kids must be out of the way! (although I think this is actually a pro…)
After 10 years of ice baths I’m not about to get in one out of choice unless I’m seriously desperate, and I’ve not reached that point yet. However, a soak in a hot bath with a glass of something is a dream. Door locked, lights off, candles on… bliss.
Easy, cheap, quick
Prune fingers and toes!!
Bath goals! 👇
All of these things work in one way or another and I haven't even touched on fuelling or hydration. The main thing I’ve realised is the importance of scheduling time for you to look after yourself. Ditch the washing up, the laundry and the guilt. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup / run with a broken leg!
Love Mel x
Follow my outdoor mum life journey @the_running_mum