Tips for Dealing With Muscle Soreness After Running

Tips for Dealing With Muscle Soreness After Running

Running can be so exhilarating. The rush of endorphins, the feeling of accomplishment, and moving your body. However, runners often experience muscle soreness, a common nemesis for both seasoned runners and beginners. So, what causes muscle soreness? What should you do pre-run and post-run to minimize muscle soreness? Let’s dive into how to continue running without dealing with debilitating muscle soreness.

Understanding Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness, particularly Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) symptoms typically occur 12 to 24 hours after a workout. It’s a normal response to physical activity that involves muscles you’re not used to using or using intensely. The microscopic damage to muscle fibers results in inflammation, resulting in that familiar stiffness and pain.

What Causes Muscle Soreness?

When you run, especially if you’re pushing beyond your usual limits, you create tiny tears in your muscle fibers. Microtears are necessary for muscle growth and strength but can cause discomfort. Factors like running downhill, interval training, or increasing your mileage too quickly can exacerbate muscle soreness.

Pre-Run Tips to Prevent Soreness

Preventing muscle soreness begins even before your run. Here are important things to keep in mind before starting your run:

  • Warm-Up ProperlyA proper warm-up increases blood flow to your muscles, making them more pliable and reducing the risk of injury. Spend at least 10 minutes on dynamic stretches and light aerobic activities like brisk walking or jogging.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, HydrateDehydration can worsen muscle soreness. Drink water before, during, and after your run to ensure your muscles are well-hydrated.
  • Choose the Right FootwearWearing the right running shoes can provide the support you need and reduce the strain on your muscles. Make sure your shoes fit well and are appropriate for the types of runs you do and the terrain you’re on.

Post-Run Recovery Tips

What you do after your run is just as important as your pre-run routine. These post-run recovery tips can help minimize muscle soreness and speed up recovery.

  • Cool Down GraduallyA cooling down post-run helps your body transition from an active to a resting state, reducing muscle stiffness. Spend at least 10 minutes doing light jogging or walking, followed by static stretching.
  • Refuel Your Body⎯According to healthline, “experts recommend eating shortly after your workout for the most benefit.” For the best recovery, this should be mainly protein and carbs.
  • Stay Hydrated⎯Continue to hydrate after your run to help flush out toxins and reduce inflammation. Water is essential, but you can also include hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges. If you sweat a lot, an electrolyte drink is a better choice than water.

Effective Muscle Recovery Techniques

In addition to post-run tips, adding these recovery techniques into your routine can significantly reduce muscle soreness.

  • Foam RollingFoam rolling helps break up lactic acid buildup and increases blood flow to sore muscles. Spend 5-10 minutes rolling out your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Cold Therapy⎯Cold therapy can reduce inflammation and numb sore tissues. Consider taking an ice bath or applying ice packs to particularly sore areas for 15-20 minutes. Even standing in cool water (50-60 degrees) can have some effect.
  • Compression Gear⎯Wearing compression garments like socks or tights can improve circulation and reduce muscle swelling.

Managing muscle soreness requires a combination of techniques to do pre-run and post-run. By understanding the causes of muscle soreness and implementing these tips, you can keep achieving your running goals.

If you’re looking for a like-minded supportive community check out Unstill Life’s running group or get one-on-one personalized training.


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