Published on July 28th, 2014 | by Lee Morgan0
We have all experienced that feeling of tightness and soreness in our muscles after a hard run or race. The more experienced we get the better we are able to cope with it. When you run you are placing stress on your muscles and making them stronger so they will tend to ache and be sore as they repair themselves.
So what do you do? Sit on the coach until you feel better? Or put things in place to make things more bearable and help the healing process along.
Here are Start Fitness‘ top 10 tips on how to cope with muscle soreness after a hard run or a session.
1. Get on the grass
As tough as it may seem, running on grass is so much better for our muscles than running on the roads. The surface is softer so there is less impact on your muscles which will reduce soreness after the run. No, you wont be as fast as when you do a road run and yes, running around a field can feel quite boring but in the long run, your muscles will be protected and you will have the capacity to train more.
2. Age – understand your limits
We have all been guilty of thinking our bodies are capable of doing what they done when we were younger. Sometimes you have to take a step back and understand that if you are sore after every run it may be a case that you simply have to ease off as your muscles aren’t as strong as they use to be. As you grow older your body is more prone to pain. This is a perfect time to introduce cross training into your schedule – if you are aching and have tried everything you can to feel better, replace a run with a cycle or swimming session.
3. Check your trainers
However cushioned your trainers, it’s your body that takes the bulk of the impact when you are running. Your muscles absorb a lot of the shock and relase pain back up your legs. You can minimize the affect by having more cushioned trainers and these should be replaced after 500-600 miles of training. The cushioning on even the best trainers can take more than 24 hours to return to its normal shape so our tip is to have at least 2 pairs of training shoes and alternate them. This will give the shoe plenty of time to return to its normal shape and ultimately last longer.
This seems like the most obvious of all our tips! Once strenuous exercise has been completed, the muscles just want to stop and recover in their own time. A gentle stretching routine shortly afterwards will allow muscles to get their full range of movement back and reduce the risk of them tightening up.
5. Ice bath
In the same way that you would apply ice to a swollen wound, ice can be applied to swollen muscle fibres to reduce swelling. A 10-15 minute ice bath after exericse can be uncomfortable but it helps flush out the waste products and toxins in your body and help the healing process. If you have soreness in a specific area you can apply a smaller ice pack to that particular area.
6. Pain killers
This is certainly not something we would recommend after every run but ibuprofen, as well as taking away pain is an anti-inflamatory and will resude swelling in the muscles. Please note, this should only be used sparingly and under extreme circumstances and NOT after every run.
7. Active recovery
Staying active after strenous exercise can also aid recovery. About an hour after a hard run or session, go out for a gentle 10 minute walk. This will stop the muscles from seizing up as they are being made to work again, albeit at a very gentle pace. You can also use active recovery by trying a non-impact activity the day after, such as a cycle or swim, this will stimulate blood flow and help repair damaged muscle fibres.
Sports massage is a great way of getting rid of tightness and soreness after a run. A qualified expert is able to indentify sore muscles and work their magic to get rid of knots and aches. It can be an expensive process though and sometimes it’s not practical to get a massage after every run but visiting a specialist once a week should keep your muscles strong and flexible and reduce the risk of injury and stiffness. If your aches are specialised to one area then why not try self massage. All you need is a tennis ball which you press into the affected area, although we recommend that you visit an appropriate website to make sure you are using the proper technique. You can also use a foam roller which will certainly ‘iron out’ those aches.
9. Post run diet
What you eat straight after exericse is very important in not only getting your energy back but also to repair muscles. Make sure you have something protein based immediately after a run. Read our Food for Recovery article on the best foods to eat after the initial 45 minutes of when your run finishes.
10. Heat therapy
High muscle temperature improves circulation so try a hot bath after exercise. This brings nutrient rich blood to damaged muscles and help them repair a lot quicker.