So, how can you make the best of it if you’re a runner with a desk job? Miller gives two suggestions: Prioritize recovery and move more frequently, as opposed to logging one long session of movement.
The key to recovery is to hydrate and then allow that fluid to move throughout the body. Massage tools can help. These strategies increase blood flow and lymphatic circulation to flush waste products out of muscles and connective tissue, Miller says. If you have a choice of getting up once a day for one 30-minute walk or moving more frequently for water and trips to the printer, choose the latter.
As the body heals the soft tissue that’s damaged from overtraining, scar tissue or adhesions form in connective tissue. This can bring about a reduced range of motion, muscle weakness, pain and compensation patterns that cause imbalances and injuries in other parts of the body.
Train for Proper Movement
Imbalances in the body can promote bad running habits—ones you probably don’t realize you’re forming. Many injuries come from running more and more miles without taking the time to move properly.
Human brains are great at learning, even if it is learning how to move incorrectly. When you run with a hurt hamstring, your brain compensates and works other muscles to get by. This will compromise your form, affect shock absorption and cause injury. In the book “Running Rewired,” author Jay Dicharry says that we must treat running like a skill and practice skilled movement in order to run better.
In order to move better, you need to use your brain’s neural plasticity—its new connections from one cell to another as you learn—to turn efficient movements into reflexive movement that doesn’t require conscious thought. You can do this by practicing complementary movement patterns.
In order to run at your best, complementary movement training is essential. It’s common to think of running drills or strength and mobility workouts as cross training, but this training is more about skill and moving properly, which makes you a better runner, according to Dicharry.
Your brain saves energy by using central pattern generators (CPGs) to send signals to make you walk, breathe and do other regular movements that you don’t have to think about. Any movements that you practice all the time start to become habit that doesn’t require focused brainpower. Your brain will develop patterns of moving your body that feel healthy and normal while you may actually be limping or moving in a way that is asymmetrical and can cause problems down the road.
Many injuries begin when muscles are inhibited, or “unplugged,” and don’t get the signal to engage. Because muscles work as a group rather than acting in isolation, it’s important to train full movements rather than simply isolating muscles on a machine at the gym. Going through these movements with precision, skill and regularity will train your brain to use these muscles to help you run better. As Dicharry says, this is what you want on race day when it’s time to save all your energy for performance rather than thinking about efficient form.