There is nothing like a good, hot, sweaty Bikram Yoga class to stretch out tight muscles after a run. Yesterday I ran the Too Cold to Hold 15k and my legs were feeling a bit stiff yesterday and today. I took yoga class tonight and my body feels great, loose and stretched...so great!
Have you ever had a muscle pain in your knees or hip or maybe your ankle or calf and you just couldn't figure out how to get rid of it? What I found out running is often targeting the area where the pain is does nothing to correct it, that really the cause of the pain could be in a completely different place. A perfect example is my knee pain yesterday. Rubbing my knees was doing nothing to ease the pain. Reason being, the pain was due to knots in the muscles that were pulling on the ligaments/joints of the knee. My immediate solution was to foam roll my legs to loosen the knots. So, yesterday I "rolled" my legs, focusing on my calves where I noticed there were huge knots. These knots and knots in my thighs were stretching/pulling my muscles so much my knees were hurting, a common thing for me as a result of running. I even used a pressure stick and pressed on the knot in my calf and could feel a tingling sensation in my upper thigh, the pain was way up there!
I bought my foam roller last year when I started training for my first marathon and loved how easy it was to use. Mine came with a video and it showed several ways to roll your calves, thighs, hip, back, arms, really anything that felt tight. It was amazing how rolling an area for just a few days would quickly loosen the knots and relieve the pain. I wasn't taking yoga as much then so my leg muscles would knot up quite a lot after long runs.
Even after rolling my legs yesterday, I was still feeling knots in my calves today, enough that I wore "cold and hot" pads on my legs all day. Then I went to Bikram Yoga and stretched every muscle and ligament in my body for 90 minutes. It was absolutely wonderful! My body feels so great, my knees don't hurt or feel like they are out of alignment and my hip doesn't feel strained.
If you are a runner, I highly recommend trying Bikram Yoga, it will change your running forever! In fact, I believe I have been injury free because of the yoga I was taking before I started training for marathons; because I already had a good foundation of flexibility, I was been able to prevent many common running injuries. Yea for Bikram Yoga!
This is the foam roller I bought. Under $20 and it comes with a cd that shows you how to roll. It basically allows you to give yourself a massage and it is WAY cheaper than going to the spa and getting a massage.