Athletics Injuries

Ankle Injuries

6 Post-Run Recovery Tips

Are you planning on running a marathon, half marathon, participating in a charity run or just running for fun? How about dreading the post-exercise soreness and fatigue? When you push your body to perform an 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 nutrition will help the body recover from intense exercise and assist your immune system damaged by the practice.

Carbohydrates

When glycogen synthesis is highest within the first-hour post-exercise, consume a carbohydrate-rich snack/meal that provides 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per 1kg of body weight.

Protein

Intense exercise causes a breakdown in muscle tissue. Protein helps restore tissue and assist muscle adaptation. Essential amino acids from high-quality protein-rich foods in the hour post-exercise promote protein rebuilding. Commonly 10-20g of protein in the first hour post-exercise is recommended.

Rehydration

It is essential to replace the fluid lost during exercise. Electrolytes, particularly sodium, lost through sweat are required. Sodium helps to increase your fluid balance post-exercise by reducing urine loss. To check, please 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 help remove lactic acid build-up and promote blood flow to relieve tight and sore muscles. This exercise can be performed as a light jog or walk after your event or the day following. This cool down exercise can be followed by a brief 5 to 15-min period of stretching to assist with tight muscles.

More info:

3. Soft Tissue Recovery

Ways to assist soft tissue recovery at home include foam rolling and wearing compression garments. Foam rolling on your back, ITB, hamstrings, quads and calves dramatically helps your soft tissue recovery. Spend 2x 1-minute intervals in each area. You may wear compression garments for 24-hrs 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 and increase muscle range of motion. Massage also improves circulation and nutrition to damaged tissue, 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 healing.

More info: Recovery Massage

5. Ice

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 intense activity. Ice can help to reduce post-activity muscle soreness.

The day after intense activity, you can use heat to help relax tight muscles. Heat also promotes blood flow to an area, promoting the recovery of lactic acid build-up.

More info: Ice therapy

6. Sleep

A good night’s sleep consisting of around 8 hours is essential for muscle recovery, among other biological functions. As mentioned above, compression garments can be worn to bed to further assist with healing. You can achieve a good night’s sleep by ensuring the room is cool, dark, quiet, and free of electronic distractions. Ideally, one should have a well-developed sleep routine that consists of the strategies mentioned earlier and avoids caffeine and excessive fluid intake before bed.

More info: Running Injuries

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is an effective and efficient technique for the treatment of muscular pain and myofascial dysfunction. Dry needling or intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is a technique that Dr Chan Gunn developed. Dry needling is a beneficial method to relax overactive muscles.

In simple terms, the treatment involves the needling of a muscle's trigger points without injecting any substance. Western anatomical and neurophysiological principles are the basis of dry needling. It should not be confused with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique of acupuncture. However, since both dry needling and acupuncture utilise the same filament needles, the confusion is understandable.

In his IMS approach, Dr Chan Gunn and Dr Fischer, in his segmental approach to Dry Needling, strongly advocate the importance of clearing trigger points in both peripheral and spinal areas.

Dry needling trained health practitioners use dry needling daily for the treatment of muscular pain and dysfunction.

dry needling

What Conditions Could Acupuncture or Dry Needling Help?

Acupuncture or dry needling may be considered by your healthcare professional after their thorough assessment in the following conditions:

Private Health Fund Rebates

Most private health funds offer rebates on acupuncture or dry needling treatments as a component of your physiotherapy or acupuncture consultation.

More Info

Cool Down

Why Cool Down Is Important After Exercise

While often neglected a cool-down serves four primary purposes:

  1. Immediate cardiovascular recovery.
  2. You are normalising muscle length and tension.
  3. Mental recovery
  4. Preparation for your next exercise session.

Let's review these four purposes in a little more detail.

Cardiovascular Recovery

Immediate cardiovascular recovery is potentially life-saving. Your heart has been busily pumping blood at high pressure through your body. If you stop your blood suddenly can pool in the engorged muscles, typically your legs, and you may feel dizzy or collapse. Cool-Down acts as a steady "normaliser" that can also help to aid the dissipation of muscle contraction waste products such as lactic acid, and assist the normalising of "fight and flight" chemicals such as adrenaline in your blood. Only slowing down the vigour of the exercise you have just done for a few minutes is all it takes to normalise your circulatory system. Runners can walk. Swimmers can swim slower. All this happens as your heart rate, and blood pressure safely resumes your normal resting levels.

Resting Muscle Length

Normalising muscle length and tension. One of the byproducts of exercise is muscle bunching. Think of a bodybuilder post biceps curls. Semi-bent elbows become the immediate post-exercise elbow posture, and if this remains long term, they will have shorter and more bunched muscles in the long-term. During sports, this may be beneficial, but between your training sessions, it leads to hypertonic muscles, increased risk of muscle strain and in long-term cases, a loss of joint range of motion. Any of these factors may affect performance. A runner for example, with a tight hamstring, will have a reduced stride length and have a higher risk of injury. A tight muscle is usually a less efficient muscle, meaning less force generation and power.

What are the Stretches Recommended Post-Exercise?

The purpose of post-exercise stretching is to restore muscle length, so static stretching is the key. Research has shown that 30 second slow static stretches are the way to go (Ayala et al. 2010). Most researchers favour two to three repetitions. But, you should listen to your body, and if you feel an extra stretch or two of a tighter than regular muscle group is what you need, I'd suggest you give it a try. Your body rarely lies and has a pretty good idea what it likes. It is also important to stretch all the muscles that were involved in your activity.

What about Massage and Foam Rollers?

You can probably also guess that a light non-traumatic style massage or use of a foam roller may also be beneficial at restoring your post-exercise muscle length.

Mental Recovery

Mental recovery is an often overlooked part of the recovery process. We lead busy lives, and it is often challenging to ensure that we adequately take the time to relax and let our mind calms down. Relaxation techniques can be a useful tool. To help you with this, even taking a few minutes to cool down, some mindful relaxation such as meditation, or having a relaxing soft tissue massage can help you reflect upon your training performance. It also helps your or to recover for your next session mentally.

Re-Preparation

Preparation for your next exercise session. Sometimes cool-down is truly an ice-cold bath. That's why ice baths are used by professional athletes post-event or post-game. Research has identified the benefits of ice baths to assist post-exercise bruising and bleeding, joint or muscle inflammation and to provide pain relief - even if it is a bit chilly when you first hop it. Of course, the less brave can use ice packs to painful bits. It all aims to stop things swelling too much, which aids your recovery time.

Things to Avoid in Cool Down.

Just as there are a lot of good things to do in a cool down, it's also good to avoid other factors.

  • Avoid heat - you're already hot, and further heat will only encourage bleeding.
  • Avoid alcohol - I don't want to be a party-pooper, but alcohol encourages inflammation and dehydration.

As I mentioned earlier, the benefits of an active cool-down help you to recover from your session and prepare for the next. Now it's up to you!

More info

What Causes Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness?

What's The Benefit Of Muscle Stretching?

Recovery Massage

When Should You Commence Physiotherapy?

In severe cases, it is best to commence physiotherapy as soon as possible.  However, it does vary from case to case. Your physiotherapist has some nifty tricks to improve your pain straight away.

If you are not sure what to do, please call us for advice. We’ll happily guide you in your time of need. Often a bit of reassurance is all that you will need.

How Much Treatment Will You Need?

After assessing your injury, your physiotherapist will discuss the injury severity with you and estimate the number of treatments needed. No two injuries are ever the same.

Your treatment will include techniques and exercises to regain your:

  • joint, ligament and soft tissue mobility
  • muscle strength, power and speed
  • balance and proprioception
  • prevention tips
  • performance improvement.

What If You Delay Treatment?

Research tells us that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. This can lead to nastier conditions.  The sooner you get on top of your symptoms the better your outcome.

All injuries are different and little variations can make a big improvement to your recovery rate.  Stiff joints or muscles may need some range of movement exercises. Other injuries may require massage or very specific strengthening exercises.

Seek professional guidance promptly for your best outcome.