As a runner, you understand the importance of fast, hard runs; long, slow distance miles, and working out as part of the training process. Have you ever enjoyed a run during which you felt strong, and experienced an incredible runner’s high – just to wake up the next morning with painful legs?
Sore muscles are par for the course with every type of exercise, and when you run, you place tremendous stress on your legs. It’s only natural that you may experience some stress tears and discomfort occasionally. But how are you to deal with it and not let it impact your training?
Unless you’re actually injured (you’ll know if you are!) there’s a simple, proven process to follow.
#1 – Hydrate!
The first step in treating sore muscles begins the moment you cross that finish line. During your workout your body loses internal water and sodium through sweat. Grab a drink and hydrate to replenish lost electrolytes and water – whether it’s a concentrated electrolyte solution, like RePlenish, or even plain water.
During fall and winter training, don’t let cool temperatures fool you! You’ll still perspire and lose salts and water, even on a cold day.
#2 – Stretch
Once you’ve had a chance to replenish and rehydrate, it is an important time to stretch your muscles. Try to start your stretching routine within half hour of finishing time and stretch for 10 to 15 minutes.
The main muscle groups to focus on when stretching include the hips, calves, hamstrings and quads, as well as any other parts that might feel a bit tender.
If you’re injured or sore from previous runs, a foam roller is helpful in releasing leftover tightness within the muscles and fascia.
#3 – Refuel
Many runners don’t feel hungry after a run, but a post-run snack or drink will help refuel. Your post-run snack should have a 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. Opt for granola with yogurt, a peanut butter and banana bagel and orange juice, or even chocolate milk.
You can enjoy a proper balanced meal about an hour or two after your run. At that point, your body will need something a bit more substantial, such as an omelet with vegetables and whole wheat toast, oatmeal with fruit, yogurt and fruit, or protein pancakes.
#4 – Ice Bath
Prepare your bathtub with cold water and ice to create a cool bath temperature of 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Immerse your legs and hips and hang in there. It should get easier after the first three to five minutes, allowing you to relax a bit. Try not to exceed 20 minutes.
#5 – Rest & Recover
Resting allows your body to recover from exercise and is a crucial component of the training process. Be sure to allow your muscles the proper resting time, typically 1-2 days, between hard or long runs.
#6 – Take Magnesium
While magnesium is known for the ability to help with restful sleep, it also reduces muscle contractions allowing muscle tissue to recover and it aids in electrolyte balance. Tack on the fact that magnesium is an essential enzymatic component in energy metabolism, cell growth and production, protein synthesis and blood pressure regulation and it is easy to see why this power supplement is a go to for your running protocol.