So you’ve put the months of hard work and training in and you’ve finally finished your big race…well done! So what now? Well what a lot people fail to put much thought into, is how to make sure they let their body recover as quickly (and painless) as possible after their race. If you haven’t then fear not, because I’m going to be talking about some helpful tips you can use to help speed up your recovery and leave you feeling great after your race.
Before we get into what we can do, let’s first try to get a basic understanding of why we get so sore after a race. Due to the repetitive nature of running over a sustained period of time, we experience tiny micro traumas in our muscles that lead to inflammation, which is what causes the soreness and stiffness we feel for up to 2-3 days after the race. This is completely normal and unfortunately there is no magic fix (not yet anyway) to stop this from happening after completing a long race as this is our body’s natural recovery response, BUT, there are some simple things we can do to minimise the discomfort and speed up the healing.
Now this may seem like an obvious one, but by rest I don’t just mean lying in bed for most of the day (if only that was the answer to all of life’s problems!), but some quality R&R time is needed to give our aching muscles some time to recover. It’s also a good idea to make sure you get a good night’s rest for the first few days after the race (at least 7-9 hours) as it is during our sleep where our body does most of the repairing of our body. Another great idea is to go for short, gentle walks to make sure we keep our blood flowing especially to those tired and sore muscles.
Re-hydrate and eat well
This may also seem like a pretty obvious one and you probably hear this advice all the time …’make sure you drink plenty of water’. This is because when our body is dehydrated it means there is less water/fluid is in our muscles, which can slow down the recovery process. So make sure you drink plenty of water after your race and the days following. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles so it’s also important to get a good dose of protein to help repair your muscles following your race, the sooner the better. Meat and dairy products, eggs, chicken breast, protein bars and protein drinks/mixes are all sources that are high in protein and should ideally be consumed straight after your race and the next 1-2 days after your race. Eating plenty of carbohydratess and fruits will also aid in recovery by replenishing your energy levels and giving you plenty of antioxidants and Vitamin C to help boost your immune system.
Soaking in a nice hot bath on the day following your race can be an awesome way to let those achy muscles relax, the addition of Epsom salts to your bath can also help remove waste products from your body and help soothe the muscles that little bit extra. And while you’re in the mood of treating yourself, a massage is another great option to relax those tight and sore muscles, usually a good idea 1-2 days after your race. If you’re not really into massages, then using a foam roller or spiky ball to soften and relax those tender muscles can be a useful alternative.
This tip is particularly helpful for those people who have any recurrent niggles or problematic joints that may get sore or inflamed in the days following a run. Ice/compression clothing is a worthwhile way of minimising swelling and reducing pain and can be used immediately after you finish your race and for the 1-2 days following if it is still a problem.
By following these tips in the first 1-3 days after your race you should be well on your way to a speedy recovery. By day 4-5 your body should be feeling pretty good again and it’s usually a good idea to go for an easy run especially if you’ve got another race coming up soon.
If you are still experiencing any lingering pain that hasn’t settled following your race or if you simply want to treat yourself for a relaxing massage, then why not contact one of our helpful physio’s at BPS for a session today!