If you're getting ready to run a marathon, then you understand that your legs are going to ache. Even if you stretch out before and after run you might have soreness, aches, and even pain. This discomfort will prevent you from continuing on with your training. However, there are some techniques and methods you can use that will help alleviate that discomfort. Some of these are things you can do at home, while others will require you to visit a professional. Here are three ways to deal with the discomfort.
Foam Roller and Massage Stick
These two items are great because they allow you to practice myofascial release in the comfort of your own home. The idea is to break up the tight fascia that is causing tightness, muscle soreness, and even a restriction of blood flow to your muscles. The fascia can get tight because of overuse, which you definitely have if you're running in preparation for a marathon. The large foam rollers can be used to work on your hips and thigh muscles. They are particularly helpful in dealing with the IT band syndrome, which is one of the most common problems for runners.
The massage stick is smaller, and similar to a rolling pin you would use to roll out pie crust. It is used to run over your calf muscles and on the bottom of your feet.
Deep Tissue Massage
If you would prefer to have someone else work your muscles, then you should get a deep tissue massage. The massage therapist will use their hands to work out tight muscles and loosen up tight fascia. Deep tissue massage is considered therapeutic, not relaxing, so it does hurt a bit. You will feel sore the next day, so it's best to not schedule any training for the day after a massage.
It's important to choose a massage therapist who practices deep tissue massage, and not one who specializes in a relaxing style of massage such as Swedish. A relaxing, Swedish style massage is great for many things, but it's not as good as deep tissue when it comes to working on sore muscles that have gotten really tight because of overuse. In order to break up muscle knots and loosen up your calf and thigh muscles, the therapist will need to use lots of pressure. They might even use their elbows and knuckles.
Another method you should consider is acupuncture. This is an ancient Asian style of treatment that relies on using tiny needles to stimulate trigger spots in your body. The interesting thing about acupuncture is that the areas the needles are placed in don't always obviously correspond to the problem area. This is because acupuncture experts follow something called meridians. These meridians flow through the body, and blocked energy (also known as chi in TCM) in one area can manifest as problems in another area. So you will talk with the acupuncturist and tell them where you feel discomfort, and they will determine where to place the needles (which won't necessarily be in your leg muscles.)
Speak to a local acupuncture professional to learn more, or visit a professional's website for additional reading.