Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Top Two Recomendations to Help You Recover Your Stride

This is my 100th post on Recover Your Stride. I have worked extremely hard at becoming a better runner or should I say I have worked hard at becoming a runner that can run pain free, injury free, be more balanced, and run with a more correct running stride. I have tried a lot of different ideas throughout the year and at one point was ready to quit because of the ongoing problem with my hips and left side. The past few months I have have really progressed and I have put together some routines that have allowed my running to feel so much smoother and to start bringing back the balance that I have not had in my running stride for over 20 years. So this 100th post on my blog will begin to highlight the 10 best things I have learned, tried ,or discovered this year. A year that is ending on a high note as just about every run I do now feels so much better than I have felt while running in years. I am getting to the point where running feels fun and free again, rather than it being a daily battle to see if i can get out the door and run in a way that doesn't hurt or feel uncomfortable.

I will start with my two favorite things I have discovered this year. Both have given me a lot of control over how my body feels and responds to running as well as they have both left me feeling so much better in my daily life. My legs are already so much looser and smoother as I continue to implement the changes brought on by working on my muscles and connective tissues. My stride feels so much lighter and younger and my joints, particularly my hips, do not feel so tight, old, and stuck in place.

I will continue in further posts with recoomendations 2-10 as well as where I think I am going next year: as I have a few things in mind and am starting to generate a "plan" for next year. That would be a first because in most recent years I have just been trying to make my body recover my stride but it was always so haphazard and I had no control. I think I am now getting to where I have control over the imbalances in my body so that I can start building on that to further enjoy running (even into my 50's). And hopefully race fast too!

Number 1
The Ming Method found in "The Permanent Pain Cure" by Ming Chew

"The Permanent Pain Cure" is the most recent book I have read and I am using bits of it on top off everything else I am doing as well as still exploring everything else in the book. I wasn't sure if I should recommend something so recent as my top choice of the year. But I think that this book has the most bang for the buck.

What I like about the program that Ming sets forth is that it is fairly comprehensive in that he covers a lot of ground. It covers stretching, strength work, and eating and hydration, but what I find most noteworthy are the self-therapy releases (based on ART) , the spinal decompression work, and the stretches for the fascia. I have not seen these things put into a general book that make them easy to understand and use. Particularly I like his releases based on ART (Active Release Technique). These up the notch a bit for people who use foam rollers, tennis balls, or elbows to a different level because you move your muscles to achieve a stretch and break up scar tissue. It is so much more effective. It has done a great job on my hamstrings and quads and allows them to loosen up and improve my running stride.

I am still playing around with the releases as well as thinking up some of my own based on the techniques. For example there are no calf and lower leg releases in the book. Last night I took out my TP Massage roller and spent just a couple of minutes on my lower leg just beneath my calf. Instead of just rolling my muscle up and down the roller, I held my leg in place and twisted and turned my foot and ankle around and back and forth. This not only loosened my leg up, I felt the effect up into my hip and lower back as they loosened up also. The most interesting thing was when I did my right lower leg, I felt the stiffness at the bottom of my right heel in certain positions. This is where I thought I might be getting plantar fasciitis in the summer. So there might be a tightness in my lower leg's muscles and tendons that could be contributing to the problem near my heel.

Here are my previous posts where I reviewed or commented on this book. I consider it a great resource for athletes (or non-athletes) using some newer techniques that they might want to try.

Stretching Your Fascia Using "The Permanent Pain Cure"

Number 2
Resistance Stretching

Static stretching has never worked for me. Right at the point where I was about to give up on my running this summer I took out a book I had bought a couple of years earlier. The book was "The Genius of Flexibility" by Bob Cooley. I had quickly looked at the book when I bought it and tried a few of the stretches. Unfortunately I had never read "how" Bob Cooley wanted the stretches to work. I had never used resistance against the stretches. I tried a few stretches after "reading" some of the book this time and noticed something happening that was not happening with other stretches I had tried. I read more and realized this was the method used by Dara Torres on her incredible return to the 2008 Olympics. Upon exploring resistance stretching more (you provide resistance against the stretch) I found it started loosening up my hips and muscles so that running started to become easier again.
Besides reading through the book I bought two different resistance stretching videos. One was Bob Cooley's "The Genius of Flexibility 1.0" and then as soon as it was released I got the Dara Torres Resistance Stretching Video from Innovative Body Solutions. Both DVDs are cheap and go through a 20 minute resistance stretching routine. Some stretches are different on the two DVDs so I mix up which one I use.
I also went to a resistance stretcher named Janet. She worked on my muscles and gave me some stretches and tips on how to do the stretches. I have not had the opportunity to go back as it can be expensive, but I wish I could go for a few more sessions as it felt great to have this work done on my muscles. She was able to stretch my legs and hips in many different ways that I would never be able to duplicate on my own. Resistance stretching has worked great for me and it might be just the type of stretching and strength work (it helps in that department too) to get your body untangled and running smoothly again.
Here is Bob Cooley's book:

You can go to Innovative Body Solutions to order the Dara Torres video or order through Amazon:

or you can go to Meridian Stretching to order "The Genius of Flexibility 1.0" DVD

I have had many posts on resistance stretching.

Resistance Stretching: This is what Dara Torres does!

More on Resistance Stretching

The Genius of Flexibility Video 1.0 Review

More on the Dara Torres Resistance Stretching DVD

The Growing Influence of Resistance Stretching

SNAP!!! What in the World was That? OK don't stretch too hard!!!

Hold Steady and Stay Positive After getting stretched by a professional.

Partner Resistance Stretching

Improving a Hamstring Stretch

Plus I am sure I touched on how resistance stretching has helped my running in many other posts.

Let me know if you try any of these methods and the results you get as I am curious as to how they work on other runners.


Girl on Top said...

Thanks for the recommendations!

Jim Hansen said...

and thanks for following my blog!

Crazy Samourai said...

Very interesting blog. Thanks!
I've had a pain in my left hip since April 09. WOuld you recommend following the "Hip program" in the Ming's Method? I tried it yesterday and my pain has become more acute today. Have you tried it with success? Do you just follow his "hip program" or are you only using some of the exercises? Also, do you do it everyday or every other day? Thanks for your precision.

Jim Hansen said...

Hey Crazy,
I pull out the stretches every once in awhile, but I don't stick with them. They are hard to do and I wanted to make sure I do them right. Here is a recent and fascinating article from Men's Health magazine that talks in-depth about the role of fascia in the body: http://www.menshealth.com/cda/article.do?site=MensHealth&channel=fitness&category=muscle.building&topic=total.body&conitem=6bde7ea369683210VgnVCM10000030281eac____&page=0&print=true .

His main stretches are for the fascia. You may have a muscle, bone, or joint injury. I did have some issues with overstressing some stretches and having the body "fight back" the next day.

Currently, I am finding great success in making my hips better by learning through the Feldenkrais method. I am relearning about proper movement patterns and even the differences between hip and pelvis when talking about movement and pain. As I relearn, through this gentle method, I am finding all sorts of ways to "rethink" movement in running, stretching, and other activities. In doings so I am not overstretching and overstressing my joints. And the results are very powerful when put into action.

Good luck,