Professional runners have the most athletic bodies which they have developed after years of rigorous training. During running a runner faces a lot of pressure on his joints and muscles; he has to overcome not only air friction but also tolerate the reactive forces exerted by the ground. These forces take a serious toll on the body and therefore post training recovery is imperative to keep up the performance.
Our defense system is such that it tries to recuperate after a strenuous workout but for an athlete speeding up this recovery process is extremely important. Here are some of the tips for a fast recovery following a hard race or run.
Post-Run Recovery Tips
✓ Refueling of Nutrients and Water
✓ Massage Therapy
✓ Hot/Cold Therapy
✓ Take a Nap
✓ Deep Breathing
1. Refueling of Nutrients and Water
“You are what you eat”. This especially holds true for athletes. The moment you start exerting yourself your body starts providing the nutrients it had stored for such activities. Carbohydrates provide you with energy and protein provides you with strength. Good fat protects your heart and water prevents your cells from being dehydrated. Muscle soreness sets in when your body gets hammered during training. Excessive soreness can end up inflaming your muscles and making it impossible for you to continue exercising.
A combination of nutrients such as proteins and complex carbs can speed up the repair process of your muscles within 30 minutes of consumption. Protein bars which also have carbs in them can be really useful. In your daily planner for running schedules, keep a reminder to take them along so that you don’t have to find something to eat right after training. You can also use your planner to jot down fast recovery tips .You can carry them in your backpack and consume them right after your run. You can also use a protein-carb shake to achieve the same results. Rehydrate yourself after a hard run preferably with water or a sports drink with the right nutrients. Proper hydration will reduce your body temperature, blood pressure and help in transporting nutrients throughout your body.
2. Massage Therapy
Numerous massage therapies have proven to benefit athletes after a tough run. Massage improves your blood circulation and enhances the supply of oxygen to various parts of your body. It also reduces muscle soreness, loosens up stiff muscles and reduces fatigue. Numerous self-massage tools are available in the market. A particular one which seemed to have a positive effect on relaxing the muscles is the Shiatsu technology leg and foot massager You can easily carry them in your backpack and use them whenever and wherever you want. You can use something as simple as a foam roller on your calves, thighs and under your feet to reduce soreness. You can also carry a massage percussion gun which provides deep tissue massage, is easy to use and can be taken along anywhere.
A stretch as simple as resting your legs up against a wall at 90 degrees can make you feel better within minutes. Yoga stretches can be really helpful in reducing soreness and fatigue. They can speed up muscle recovery if done properly. You can choose among static or dynamic stretches. Calf raises, toe touch, planking, swan stretch, standing lunges, hamstring stretches, glute bridge, etc. can relax your muscles in very little time. Ideally, you should do stretching before as well as after your running.
4. Hot/Cold Therapy
Taking a cold shower right after running reduces fatigue and muscle soreness. It reduces your core temperature and blood pressure thus improving circulation of blood in the body. However, alternating between cold and hot showers has proven to be more promising and this technique is the favorite among athletes. Hot water helps to flush out all inflamed cells as well as dead cells. They also reduce body fatigue and thus improve its ability to recover from running or racing. If you cannot take a shower for some reason, you can use ice patches or hot patches and directly apply them to your body. Research proves that you should always start with icing and then switch to hot therapy. In case you have suffered an injury, you should provide ice therapy for 3 days before you switch to heat therapy.
5. Take a Nap
Taking a nap can do wonders for athletes after a training session or a race. Sleeping results in substantial reduction of fatigue and soreness. It also happens to be the best method for speeding up muscle recovery and healing injuries. To multiply the benefits of a nap you can use a weighted blanket. These innovative blankets provide deep touch massage therapy to your body. Their weight is increased by stuffing pellets into blankets and are available according to your body weight. Regular usage of these blankets especially while sleeping can help the process of muscle recovery, reduce stiffness and muscle soreness. Think of it as a free massage for the entire night.
6. Deep Breathing
Yoga has given us a lot of stretching exercises and postures that can improve not only our health but also facilitate us in performing other workouts. It has also given us what yogis call ‘breathing technique’. Using this technique before, during and after your workout or training session can reduce injury risk and inflammation; it can help you relax physically as well as mentally.
The breathing technique also enhances your stamina. Instead of inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, the breathing technique requires that you inhale and exhale using only your nose instead of using your mouth for exhaling.
Deep breathing increases the oxygen supply in your body thus improving circulation which in turn reduces soreness. All you need is a yoga mat, place it on the floor, keep one hand on your chest while the other resting on your belly. Using your nose to breathe slowly and take deep long breaths. Once you fill up your belly with air, hold it there for a few seconds and then exhale from your nose (not your mouth) and empty out all the air in your stomach. You can repeat this exercise a couple of times or till you feel relaxed. You can also try out some of the recommended relaxation techniques from CDC.
Hope this guide helps you recover well after your long run, preparing you even better for your next one!