Running hurts… But we love the pain!
Every runner knows there are some aches and pains that go with the progress. We talk about stretching to loosen up after our runs, strengthening in order to be stronger and be less sore from our run, using ice, anti-inflammatories, and the other million things we do just to get past the soreness so we can lace up our shoes again and hit the road or trail.
There are many products on the market now to improve the runner’s ability to manage the tightness and overuse we cause with running. I recently had the chance to use experiment with the RAD Rod and RAD Helix. A couple of new tools for self massage.
Runners have been using The Stick and foam rollers for quite some time now and we see new variations all the time. I was interested to see if the RAD products would provide any added benefit in a growing market of products.
After spending a week or two with the RAD Rod and Helix I have to say I feel that they are a great addition to the runners arsenal against pain and tightness. The RAD Helix was excellent at getting into the muscles along the spine. I frequently see runners coming into the doors of the PT clinic with low back pain. It is often related to tight erector spinae muscles along the spine, decreased core strength, and the forward posture we start to adopt as we start get fatigued during a run. The RAD Helix helps to loosen those muscles up quite aggressively and laying over the Helix can help you to stretch out some of the tightness that tends to pull you into that forward posture. It can also be a good tool for those that are susceptible to headaches and neck tension, just by positioning the Helix at the base of the spine and laying down to relax for a few minutes.
The RAD Rod is an incredibly firm roller that really allows you to dig deep into the muscles. I have never really been able to get the deep pressure I need on my Hamstrings, Quads, and calf using the stick. But with the RAD Rod I could really dig in and I felt I got a lot more benefit out it.
Another self-massage technique that really worked well with this product was to put the Helix on the RAD Rod and use this to get some deep pressure into the outer Quads around the IT Band. The groove of the Helix allows you to keep some pressure off of the sensitive IT Band while still digging into the outer aspect of the Quads. Using the same technique you can get into the front of the shin and keep the groove of the Helix over the Tibia so you don’t get a lot of pressure onto the bone itself, but still get all of the muscle.
There are more and more products on the market to help us manage our pain and tightness, but I think the RAD products are a great addition. Try them out for yourself at 3RRC and see what you think! But also remember a proper running progression and training program is the most important way to remain injury-free!
written by Todd Sullivan, PT, COMT
of Indiana Physical Therapy