I walked a 5K this past weekend for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. Now normally, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’ve had breathing issues most of this year, so walking even at a brisk pace was a challenge.
I walked it, in better time than I had the last time (I came in with the truck that picked up the cones at my last 5K). I was so happy that I went shopping to treat myself for a job well done, and was out for hours.
When I got home, hours later, I was tired, but wasn’t as tired as I had been in the past walks. My feet felt fine, but apparently were beginning to throw a serious hissy fit. As I slept, my feet held a meeting with the muscles in my calves.
They regaled my calves with stories of abuse and mistreatment, and after all the stories, the calves believed my feet! In solidarity with my feet, my calves began to twitch, ever so slightly, my brain didn’t even notice. My feet were really upset that the brain still didn’t tell me to get up, that they gave an ultimatum – move that leg one more time, and SEE what happens next!
Again, as far as the brain was concerned, it was off the clock. ‘Time for maintenance, please come back later,’ the message replied. As I fell back to sleep, my legs shifted into a more comfortable position, and the feet seized the opportunity to wake me up.
The foot began to curl, as the calf muscles contracted. Just before it fully seized up, I bolted out of bed, and almost stood up on my foot, like I used to when I would get a Charlie horse. Once I calmed down, I took deep breaths, massaged the muscles, and got in that knot before any of the other muscles tried to gang up on me.
Now, as a massage therapist, I should know better. Yes, I see you shaking your head as you read the post. Everyone has a slip now and again.
Here’s how you can do better than I did. If you don’t take care of your feet, no matter how long your to-do list is, your feet will take your whole body hostage.
– After doing an activity, such as a 5K or a run, have a banana. The magnesium in the banana will help feed the muscles the nutrients they need to regulate and repair. Don’t like bananas? Here is a link of magnesium rich foods.
– A cool water bottle rolled under foot will help soothe sore soles. A golf ball will help address knots, but don’t press so hard, the cramp in your foot may just get worse. Apply pressure to your level of comfort only.
– Self massage always helps when you just want to take care of that knot that’s been bothering you. Again, digging into a knot may not be the best idea; bruises look cute on noone.
– Warm ups before and gentle stretching afterwards helps the muscles prepare for and recover from an activity. This is a hotly contested idea, and opinions vary widely. I’d rather let my muscles know that they’re getting ready to work, than to cramp up in the middle of an activity. Check out the last post – Leg Cramps – for some great stretches that you can do for your legs.
– A pre-event massage helps warm the muscles up and prepare them for your upcoming activity, as a post-event massage will help the muscles calm down and recover. If your event has therapists on site, go and check them out. They are there to help you!