April is the height of racing season. It's also a time when spring weather encourages many people to get out and start running for the first time, or to start back up after a winter hibernation. Whatever the reason, this increase in activity leads to a lot of sore muscles, which in turn lead to a lot of questions about what do to ease those sore muscles.
A lot of runners talk about foam rolling or self-massage as a necessary evil, but we like this reminder that it doesn't have to hurt that badly:
More is not always better when it comes to pressure, says massage therapist Jeannine Foster, founder of Foster Wellness in Portland, Maine. “Going too hard is something I see clients do on a regular basis,” Foster says. “If it causes pain, and you’re holding your breath, have sweating palms, or are wincing, you’re probably using too much pressure."
Raymond recommends using a 10-point pain scale for pain.
When you settle into a trigger point, stay there until you get to a point of tolerable pain that feels like it would be a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, he says. "This would be tolerable pain, but you wouldn’t want to go much deeper,” he says. Then wait 20 to 30 seconds—long enough for the pain to reduce by half to a level of 3. If the pain doesn’t ease up in 30 seconds, or if it gets worse, it might require professional help to determine what underlying biomechanical issue is keeping the muscle from releasing, he says.
For new runners just getting started and long-time runners who aren't so great about recovery (we know there are a lot of you), check out this primer on the benefits of self-massage, the right (or wrong) ways to do it, and when to seek professional help.