As the running race season is quickly approaching, I have been receiving a ton of questions around how to prevent injuries during training. Last season I developed a painful IT (iliotibial) Band injury that lead to lateral runner’s knee, which almost prevented me in running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Fran. The IT Band, is the band that runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee, is one of the parts of the body most susceptible to injury in runners. If I knew then what I know now, it could have definitely been avoided. In addition to acupuncture and chiropractic care, a few key items from Gaiam really helped speed up my recovery process.
If you’re new to running, foam rolling is something you need to quickly get acquainted with. Similar to traditional stretching, is a great tool for lengthening and elongating muscles but its benefits are especially helpful for runners who suffer from tight and fatigued muscles. It’s not meant to be a replacement for proper stretching, warm up or cool down, but it is a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility. My “Go-To” is Gaiam’s Restore 36″ Total Body Foam Roller. This high density roller is the perfect to self massage your entire body and can also be used for balance training. The bonus, it also includes a 25 minute instructional workout DVD featuring James D’Silva. You can find 5 useful foam rolling exercises in an easy to follow video here.
Studies have shown that in addition to releasing stress and easing pain, Yoga can also improve your running time. The strength and flexibility you develop on the mat – namely in the core, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors can help you run more efficiently and stay injury free. Also, I have come to realize lately that Yoga can help control emotions and breathing when you’re in discomfort while pounding the pavement. Enduring an intense pose is very similar to enduring a long or tempo run. There are so many types of Yoga methods out there that will work with your specific needs. This race season I will be turning to the Jock Yoga method, created by Michael Decorte to help improve my cardio and strength and will also utilize the relaxing flows and detoxification benefits of hot yoga classes at Moksha Yoga. Decorte’s classes are quite challenging and I still have some work to do to get where I can want to be. For those moves which still prove to be too challenging in his class, I utilize Gaiam’s Cork Yoga Brick. They are a great tool for those not flexible enough to complete more advanced yoga poses and they can also be used to extend the stretch of some poses for those of you who are advanced yogis. Made of all natural materials, they provide optimal grip and traction. For my hot yoga practice, I find it imperative to have the right mat. The brand’s Sol Dry Grip Yoga Mat (available March 17th) ensures you stay slip free and secure. The innovative top coating wicks away moisture and surprisingly provides better grip the hotter you get. Constructed from a “closed-cell” material, this mat seals out germs, doors and bacteria and is also ideal for those sensitive to latex. The bonus, it’s 5mm cushioning is also soft on your joints. After class, I religiously use the Super Yoga Mat Wash, also by Gaiam, to clean my mat. With it’s organic essential oils with proven antiseptic and moisturizing properties, not to mention it’s refreshing scent, its the perfect way to clean up after class.
Photography by Nathalia Allen amillionminds.ca (@amillionminds)
For more information on Gaiam and it’s products head to Gaiam.ca. I am teaming up with the brand to give away these amazing products to one lucky follower. Entering is simple. You must follow Gaiam Canada and myself on Twitter to be eligible and tweet the following, “@SashaExeter I want to win the @GaiamCanada wellness prize pack #SSFitTips“. Contest begins 9am EST on Wednesday March 18th, 2015 and closes Friday March 20th at 9pm EST. The lucky winner will be announced on Monday March 23rd at 9am via Twitter. *Please note, contest is eligible to Canadian residents only!
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