Are Restorative Exercises Something Runners Should Learn About?

Jannine Myers

Kristin Marvin is a Performance Recovery Specialist who challenges mainstream approaches to improved performance and recovery. Marvin is one of a growing number of specialists teaching what is called Restorative Exercise (also known as Nutritious Movement).

When runners are asked to describe what their ideal conditions for optimal recovery are, Marvin says that they’ll typically refer to one or all of the following:

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Post-run stretching
  • Alternative therapies such as massage and chiropractic adjustments

These are all important, but Marvin and other specialists trained in her profession encourage clients to focus more on the non-running hours of life – which, for most runners, equates to about 23 hours. It’s everything a runner does outside of running, says Marvin, that more than likely impedes recovery efforts and causes running injuries.

Two things in particular (and there are several other contributing factors) that Marvin believes significantly adds to delayed recovery and greater risk of injury, is a lack of mobility, and the all-day-every-day wearing of shoes.

With regards to mobility, Marvin claims that besides the daily hour or two of running each day, most runners spend the rest of the day in a sedentary position; she referred to such runners as being “actively sedentary,” a term used to describe a person who moves on average about 4% of the time and remains sedentary the remainder of the time.

The problem with so much time spent sitting, is that our bodies have become accustomed to less movement and as much as we dislike it, the consequence is daily muscular aches and pains. In turn, our ability to walk, run, and move is hindered, causing further damage since our bodies are not functioning as they should.

Compounding this problem, says Marvin, is the fact that we wear shoes all day; our feet make up 25% of our muscular skeletal system (they contain a lot of vasculature; they provide sensory and proprioception information; and they push blood back to the heart), so when we cast them in shoes for long periods of time we make them susceptible to weakened sensitivity and mobility, as well as loss of intrinsic muscle. Restorative Exercise specialists believe that if your feet are weak, then many other parts of your body will also be weak.

So what should runners do to improve recovery and reduce injury risk, especially if lifestyle and job situations make it difficult to walk around barefoot, or to walk around much at all?According to Marvin, we can start by incorporating short bouts of activity frequently throughout the day. Any opportunity to take a break from work or any other type of sedentary activity should be taken advantage of; move as often as possible and in as many different ways as possible.

And if you must wear shoes, she says, then make sure that all of your shoes fit properly. You can do that by tracing your feet on paper, cutting it out, and then placing the paper inside your shoes; if any part of the paper comes up on the sides, the front, or the back, then it’s time for those shoes to go!

There is much more to be said about Restorative Exercise, but I’ll leave you to do your own further research.

  • “All your trillions of cells talk; every single move you make [or don’t make] has a significant impact on today and tomorrow……” Kristen Marvin



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