How to Treat Sore Muscles After a Run
- Hydrate as soon after your run as possible with Gatorade or electrolyte drink
- Stretch major muscle groups and anything that is sore or tight. Roll out any nagging injuries or problem areas.
- Eat a small meal that contains a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein
- Take an ice bath
- Eat a decent sized, healthy meal
- Nap, put your feet up, or get a massage
- Take an Epsom salt bath
- Roll out on the stick and stretch well
- Get plenty of sleep
After a hard workout or a tough long run, you should begin by hydrating within the first 10-15 minutes after stopping.
Even if the temperature was cool, or downright cold, or typically in Glasgow, pouring of rain, you still sweat a significant amount and you need to replace the fluid loss.
What to eat after a run
After you’re hydrated, you can begin your stretching routine while also ingesting your post run snack or beverage.
This post run fuel could be something like chocolate milk, yogurt and nuts, banana and peanut butter bagel with orange juice.
Stretching is good after running only
The stretching and post run fueling should begin within 25-30 minutes of finishing your run.
The stretching should last 10-15 minutes, focusing on the major muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips) as well as anything that is nagging or felt sore on the run.
While the merits of stretching are a hotly debated topic in running circles, we believe stretching after a run is beneficial.
If you have a foam roller and are experiencing any small injuries, it would also be beneficial to roll out on the foam roller to alleviate any knots and tightness.
Ice bath is miserable now, but worth it later
After stretching, it’s time to hit the ice bath.
Fill your bath tub with cold water and add ice until the temperature reaches a balmy 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don’t have a thermometer, the ice should still completely melt, but it should take about 3-5 minutes for a normal size ice cube to do so.
Next, grab a towel and your favorite magazine and submerse your entire lower body, up to your hips, in the water. Now, the trick to ice baths is surviving the first 3 minutes.
Bite the towel and dream about your biggest goals. This will help you get through the hardest part of the ordeal.
After 3 minutes or so, you’ll notice the temperature feels more temperate and you can actually relax a little. If you are a veteran ice bather, or just a sadistic human being, you can kick your legs a little to stir up the water.
This will help circulate the warm water surrounding your body and make things cold again.
Remain in the tub for 10-15 minutes if you can.
After letting all the water drain from the tub, go ahead and take your shower. Your legs will feel cold for a few hours, but your muscles will thank you later.
Eat a well-balanced meal 1-2 hours after your run
After the ice bath, you’ll want to ensure that you get a well-balanced meal in your system.
To completely refuel within your second optimal window, your muscles need something more substantial.
If you run in the morning, this could be breakfast – eggs with veggies and whole wheat toast, oatmeal with fruit and toast.
Lunch or dinner could be salad with a sandwich, pasta, or leftovers from the night before, unless it was from your local chinese or kebab shop!
You just want to consume a high quality meal with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This will provide your body with the final nutrients it needs to top off the recovery process.
Take a nap or get a massage – what a luxury
After your meal, put your feet up, take a nap, and follow it up with a massage.
I know this is where things can get “ridiculous”, as massages and naps are a fantasy and extreme luxury; especially if you have kids hanging from your legs, however, it should be included if possible.
Warm bath with epsom salts
About 60-90 minutes before bed, you should take a warm/hot bath in Epsom salts.
Combine 4 cups Epsom salt with 1 cup baking soda and relax in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. After the bath, dry off and roll out your muscles with a foam roller and get in a good stretching session.
Not only with this help remove excess toxins from the muscles, the stretching before bed will ensure that you wake up feeling ready to go for your next run. Furthermore, the relaxing bath and the Epsom salts will help you sleep.
As you can see, this routine is quite extensive. You won’t always have the time to get in all of these recovery protocols, but it does give you glimpse of the things you could do on those rare occasions. Do what you can, but at least now you have a plan.
If you do feel you have picked up a niggle or are looking to schedule a sports massage then contact our team for more assistance. We’d love to help you recover faster and get back to training as soon as possible.