Berard says he usually does ice baths after long or intense workouts. "During high-mileage weeks I feel less damaged the next day," he says. "That exposure to cold helps combat the trauma of running." While both icing and ice baths are effective, an ice bath allows for full immersion, which is advantageous. If you're in a hurry, consider taking ice packs or an ice cup with you on the go. Either way, you'll garner the anti-inflammatory benefits.
Why Massage Is an Effective Recovery Tool
Massage, Active Release Technique, and Graston are other popular recovery tools utilized by runners. The effectiveness of massage has long been touted by pros and newbies alike. The easiest approach is through the use of at-home tools, like a massage stick, foam roller or tennis ball. Although you might not be a massage expert, there are plenty of tutorials online that show you how to use these properly. "At-home massage is very effective, just be careful not to over-massage a spot that is already inflamed," says Berard.
If you have the means and access, going to a professional sports massage therapist is worth every penny. They will be able to work out the tension deep in your muscles that develops over many miles of training. "The advantage of having someone else do the massage is that they can get to areas that you can't get to on your own," adds Devor. "It also tends to be a little more aggressive than you'd get with something like the foam roller, but it's the exact same principle."
Active Release Technique and Graston are two newer therapies that many runners have begun to rely on for recovery and maintenance. Active Release is a manual technique that involves the practitioner applying pressure to certain areas while the patient goes through various ranges of motion. The idea is to improve movement patterns by working out adhesions in the soft tissues. Graston is a related technique, wherein stainless steel tools are used to work out scar tissue and increase range of motion to restore proper movement patterns.
Whether you choose to utilize all or just a couple of these recovery methods, you are likely to notice improvements almost immediately. Keep in mind that whether you down a recovery shake, hop in an ice bath, or commit to a foam-rolling regimen, small changes in your approach to recovery can equal big improvements in performance.marathon.