Top alternative therapies that runners can use to complement their sport
Most commonly associated with holistic medicine, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to healing practices and therapies that are not part of conventional health care. Many individuals and practitioners pursue CAM as a holistic approach to health, balance and well-being of the body, mind and spirit. You may already be familiar with such practices like acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbalism, massage therapy, meditation, naturopathy, reiki, yoga … the list goes on. Although each practice strives to achieve optimal health, they are sometimes applied differently to treat symptoms of a specific concern.
For instance, dedicated runners may use yoga, acupuncture and massage therapy to enhance their workouts on the road while treating and preventing running-related issues. If you’re a runner yourself, you already know that intense running and training can certainly take a toll on the body. Whether you focus on fast acceleration sprints or long-distance journeys, it’s important to incorporate complementary and alternative therapies that will keep you performing at your best.
When your foot repeatedly hits the ground during an average run, you may experience excessive pounding, shortening and tightening of the muscles, therefore leading to unfortunate leg cramps or a pulled hamstring. If so, incorporating occasional yoga exercises to your running routine will stretch and loosen muscles and keep joints healthy, ultimately preventing running-related problems or injuries from happening.
Concentrate on yoga poses that lengthen and strengthen muscles most useful to a runner like yourself, including the quadriceps, calves and hamstrings:
- Cobbler Pose (Baddha Konasana)
- Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)
- Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
- Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
- Hero Pose (Virasana)
- Legs-up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Runners may use this alternative therapy to treat injuries and reduce pain and inflammation through the use of thin needles inserted along the body’s meridians. Don’t worry—it’s safe and highly effective. Andrew Castellanos, a licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco, states that “acupuncture works by strategically placing needles on pressure points to regulate blood flow to trouble spots via major pathways in the body, thus resulting in relaxed muscles with less swelling, tension and pain.”
So, whether you want to treat an injury or prevent one from occurring, this technique is recommended for stimulating endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers, as well as increasing range of motion, improving running-related stresses and treating deep muscle tissue. Runners who experience sprains, knee pain, plantar fasciitis and low back pain will definitely enjoy the benefits of acupuncture!
Massage techniques are performed on runners who wish to stretch and lengthen their muscles, release tension, improve flexibility and prevent possible running-related injuries. Sounds about right.
What types of massage are beneficial for runners? I shall tell you!
- Sports massage is useful for runners and serious athletes who cover more than 30 miles a week. The more miles, the more stress the body goes through. If you prefer treatment during training, or before and after an event, then sports massage is right for you. Proven benefits are improved circulation, reduced risk of injury, enhanced performance and decreased muscle soreness.
- Best used before a lengthy run or as a recovery tool after intense workouts, Swedish massage exercises long, flowing strokes of various pressure to release muscle tension, prevent fatigue and increase blood flow. It aids the body to establish its own natural healing.
- For runners who experience chronic knee pain, plantar fasciitis and other aches, trigger point therapy is a massage technique that targets muscle knots and areas of discomfort in the muscle tissue. Deep pressure is usually applied to loosen adhesions and relieve chronic pain.
- Runners may experience tight spots and other related discomforts when their volume and intensity are too high. In that case, deep tissue massage is applied to deep layers of the muscles and fascia, and is quite intense as a result of deliberate, focused work. This technique is utilized to relieve stress, restore injured muscles, improve blood pressure and reduce pain.
We Gurus hope these tips come in handy. Please share with the community what therapies or practices you use to remain active and strong!