How Icing and Knifing Your Feet Speeds up Your Running Recovery

How Icing and Knifing Your Feet Speeds up Your Running Recovery

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In an interview with David Laney, the professional runner told Spartan about a daily routine for taking care of his feet: icing and knifing (or muscle scraping, as it's better known). It sounds strange, but it's actually quite simple: Laney tries to ice his feet every night. He also applies coconut oil and “scrapes” the pain away with a butter knife after runs, following up with another round of ice.

Related: How Professional Runner David Laney Made a Living Out of His Passion

Laney isn’t alone in doing this. Many runners follow this Spartan-approved recovery protocol. Here’s what science has to say about icing and “knifing” (or, more generally, using an at-home muscle scraper). 

David Laney's Running Recovery: Why Ice and Muscle Scraping Works

Recovery Benefits of Icing

Up first: icing. According to Cleveland Clinic, ice baths can ease sore muscles by constricting blood vessels (and therefore relieving swelling).

And, in a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found cold wraps applied immediately after exercise or 24 hours later were more effective at reducing pain than heat therapy. For more on the benefits of cold therapy, read this.

Recovery Benefits of Muscle Scraping

According to Sidekick, the basic idea behind a muscle scraping tool is that it breaks up blocked blood vessels arising from muscle work, prompting your body to create more efficient vessels (and therefore boosting recovery).

david laney running and recovery

Scraping is based off of gua sha, a treatment used in traditional East Asian medicine, which is also known as instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, IASTM could help enhance blood circulation, improve range of motion, and increase tendon and tissue extensibility. 

Related: The 7 Spartan Rules That Will Make You Run Like Hell

How to Do David Laney's Ice and Knife Recovery Routine

If you want to reap the epic recovery benefits of this Laney-approved routine, do it like the Spartans do:

  • 2 to 3 minutes of scraping after a run when the feet are warm
  • 5 minutes of ice

With the smooth end of a butter knife (or a scraping tool) and some coconut oil, start with your Achilles tendon and go from your heel to your toes. It will be sensitive at first, but will improve over time.

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