With the Knoxville Marathon weekend occurring this month, many people will participate in runs of varying distances. Often times we run to prove something to ourselves, to achieve a health goal or to achieve a new personal record and qualify for another race. No matter the reason, it is important to be informed on recovery habits in order to prevent injury. After running longer distances, whether it is your first or 100th race, you will typically experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that occurs 24-72 hours after the activity. After a race, our quads and calves, just to name a few, often leave us limping with soreness during simple activities such as walking, stairs, and transitioning from sitting to standing. Our bodies’ response to the over load of stress on the muscle is a chemical response producing inflammation that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. This discomfort is inevitable. So what should you do to recover after running? Here are some suggestions:
-Drink plenty of water: It is important that during and after running we drink water or a sports drink to keep the body hydrated. Our bodies are up to 60% water and we must be hydrated to maintain body temperature, lubricate joints, properly transport nutrients, and rid waste.
-Rest: When I suggest resting, I don’t mean going home and lying on the couch while binge watching the latest show and not moving the rest of the day. Immobility will result in even more muscle tightness and joint stiffness. Your muscles are going through a remodeling and healing process, so it is important to keep moving but also to avoid intense exercise during the recovery period.
-Stretching: Your muscles will tighten as you recover after a run and stretching will help to minimize pain and discomfort from this tightness. Foam rolling is a great stretching technique used by runners to improve their flexibility and recover after running.
Not allowing yourself time to recover after long distance running could result in injuries such as sprains, strains, and stress fractures. If your pain is lasting longer than 1 week or not rapidly improving after a run, you should consider being seen by a physical therapist or orthopedic physician for evaluation.
OrthoKnox Physical Therapy is always happy to assist in identifying and treating your injuries, call us at 865-251-3044.
Written By: Laura McCallister, PT, DPT