The Texas-based Canadian runner Calum Neff raced the TCS New York Marathon on Sunday, November 4, finishing 83rd overall, with a time of 2:34:54. Two days later, he posted some helpful recovery tips on his Instagram that would benefit anyone recovering from a marathon or long training run.
“Truth is,” writes Neff, “I often work harder at recovery than I do the actual training. To save time, money, and do all the important “little stuff” more frequently I bring as much of the recovery process as possible into the home.”
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
Neff uses a PowerDot muscle stimulator, which is a portable TENS unit with wireless app control. Neff says it’s “Great for tense muscles, increasing blood flow, pre-x warmup, soreness/pain relief, self massage, and more.
Neff recommends a lacrosse ball, or even just your thumbs, on hips and calves, during your post-run shower. He suggests adding some Bio-Freeze or Tiger Balm to help with pain if necessary.
Graston blade, acupuncture
Neff keeps a Graston blade (which has multiple uses) in the shower for scraping the fascia on all muscle and tissue areas, for him primarily the calves, quads, hips and hamstrings. He cautions that this technique and “dry needling” require plenty of practise, and may be better left to your physiotherapist.
“‘Good’ healthy tissue is smooth,” says Neff, “but when you reach an area of poorly formed or damaged tissue, it has almost a vibration feedback of breaking up the area and accelerating blood flow for recovery while helping the tissue re-align in a stronger formation.”
Heat or cold?
Neff likes both hot and cold, and suggests they can be alternated: “I love my epsom salt baths (probably my number-one go-to favourite) but also alternating hot/cold is sometimes the only thing that releases tense muscles.”
Here’s the cheapest way to cold roll: Fill a styrofoam cup with water and freeze it. Then use it as a roller, peeling the styrofoam off it as the ice melts. Neff also visits a cryo spa for professional cold therapy.
“Too often people do nothing when they are hurt,” says Neff. “This is a great time to find an activity you can do without aggravating an injury, or after coming off big efforts.” He recommends no-impact options like cycling or a Zero Runner (a type of no-impact treadmill), or simply walking outdoors or on a treadmill.