Planning on running a marathon, half marathon, participating in a charity run or just running for fun? Dreading the post-exercise soreness and fatigue? When you push your body to perform intense exercise or exercise it may be unaccustomed to, it is beneficial to know what to do to assist recovery after the event.
Here are six tips to assist you in recovering after a running event.
1. Post-Run Nutrition
After exercise it is paramount you replenish the energy stores (glycogen/carbohydrates, electrolytes and protein) and fluid stores you lost during activity. This will assist the body in recovery from intense exercise and assist your immune system damaged by the exercise.
Within the first-hour post-exercise, when glycogen synthesis is highest, it is advised to consume a carbohydrate rich snack/meal which provides 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per 1kg of body weight.
Intense exercise causes a breakdown in muscle tissue. Protein is used to restore tissue and assist muscle adaptation. Essential amino acids from high-quality protein rich foods in the hour post exercise is recommended to promote protein rebuilding. 10-20g of protein in the first-hour post exercise is recommended.
It is essential to replace the fluid lost during exercise. To ensure proper rehydration electrolytes, particularly sodium, lost through sweat are required. Sodium assists to reduce urine loss and therefore increased fluid balance post exercise. It is recommended to weigh yourself before and after your race. A guideline to fluid replacement is 1L for every 1kg lost during the event.
More info: Sports Dietitian
2. Cool Down Exercise
Low-intensity exercise can assist in removing lactic acid build up and promote blood flow to relieve tight and sore muscles. This can be performed as a light jog or walk after your event or the day following. This can be followed by a brief 5 to 15-min period of stretching to assist with tight muscles.
- 4 Reasons to do a Cool Down
3. Soft Tissue Recovery
Ways to assist soft tissue recovery at home include foam rolling and wearing compression garments. Foam rolling can be used on the back, ITB, hamstrings, quads and calves. It is recommended to spend 2x 1minute intervals on each area. Compression garments are recommended to be worn for 24hrs post exercise. Both techniques can assist in reducing post-exercise muscle soreness and may enhance recovery of muscle performance.
More info: Foam Rollers
4. Recovery Massage
A post-run recovery massage can reduce excessive post-exercise muscle tone, increase muscle range of motion, increasing circulation and nutrition to damaged tissue, and deactivate symptomatic trigger point, reduced post-exercise soreness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Soft tissue therapy has also been said to aid in psychological recovery alongside music, warm baths and showers to enhance muscle relaxation and allow recovery.
More info: Recovery Massage
There is often debate whether ice baths (cold water immersion) is beneficial after exercise. In regards to running, ice helps to decrease inflammation resulting from an intense activity. This can help to decrease post activity muscle soreness.
The day after intense activity, heat can be used to help relax tight muscles. Heat also promotes blood flow to an area, which can promote the recovery of lactic acid build up.
More info: Ice therapy
A good night’s sleep consisting of around 8 hours is important for muscle recovery among other biological functions. As mentioned above compression garments can be worn to bed to further assist with recovery. A good night’s sleep can be achieved by ensuring the room is cool, dark and quiet, and free of electronic distractions. Ideally one should have a well-developed sleep routine that consists of the aforementioned strategies and avoids caffeine and excessive fluid intake before bed.