As runners, endurance athletes, cross-fitters or whatever your sport, many times we push the limits, and find ourselves doing the penguin walk the day after a tough workout. If you’re training for a race or competition, you don’t always have the luxury of giving your body lengthy recovery time between workouts.
Ever feel like you need one of these?
Or one of these?
Me, too – but I don’t always look as cheerful as the model.
In order to stick to your training plan, you have to be back at it with perhaps only one recovery day under your belt. Muscle soreness is part of training. Many times, I’ve inched my way out of bed, wondering how I will ever get through the next workout. If I can barely lift my legs before I even start, how will I manage to get through a challenging tempo or long run?
Have you ever wondered, “how can I speed up muscle recovery?” Or at least ease muscle pain between workouts? Here are a few tips to aid with muscle soreness:
Tips for easing muscle soreness
1. Stagger your key workouts out – In running, we generally do three key workouts: speed, tempo, and long run. If you stagger your difficult workouts throughout the week, this gives your body a day or two to recover in between.
2. Anti Inflammatory foods or supplements – By eating the right foods throughout the day, you minimize the amount of inflammation that occurs, which helps aid in muscle recovery. Some really good options are Blueberries, Salmon, Tart Cherries, Turmeric, Green tea, Ginger, Garlic, nuts, beets, dark leafy greens, and healthy fats. I try and eat these foods but also supplement. I order most of mine from Swanson’s Vitamins . Avoid these items: Trans fats, sugar, feed lot meat, processed meats, alcohol, white grains, artificial color.
3. Massage – If you can splurge for a massage, it is really worth it. Even just a medium pressure massage can loosen the built up lactic acid in your body. It reduces stress and is good for your overall well being.
4. Branch Chain Amino Acids – BCAAS are a supplement taken immediately following a tough workout. I purchase mine at Life Extension. This is information about them is from Men’s Fitness Magazine: “BCAAs are metabolized primarily in skeletal muscles, while other amino acids are metabolized in the liver, which is why some think they must take BCAA supplements if they’re engaging in strenuous exercise,” explains Currie. With that in mind, BCAAs are often touted to help repair damaged muscles, decrease muscle soreness and increase muscle function. Some data shows that BCAA supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis.”
5. Epsom Salt Bath – Epsom salt is made from magnesium and sulfate. It is very inexpensive and has been used for centuries to heal a variety of issues. Magnesium relaxes the blood vessels, reduces inflammation, improves blood flow, and eases muscle soreness. You would not want to soak in a hot bath immediately after a workout, this is something you would do the next day. Consult with your doctor before using Epsom salt if you are pregnant. Do not use it if you have an open wound — ouch. I use Dr. Teals, it smells so good and is very reasonably priced.
6. Eat a balanced post workout meal within 30 minutes – Eating the right ratio of Protein and Carbs immediately following a workout is important in rebuilding and repairing damaged muscle tissue. For a few easy recipes, and more information about the correct ratios, read this post HERE
7. Stretching and Foam Rolling – For runners, there are few stretches you should be doing post- workout, not only to ease muscle pain, but also to improve your overall performance, this includes a few yoga poses. The key with stretching for runners is not to go over board. You just want to gently loosen certain areas, not become a contortionist.
Here are excellent sources for stretching and Foam Rolling:
Runner’s World: 30 Second Stretches
Happy Fit Mama- Essential Stretches for Runners
A Daily Dose of Fit: Running Stretches
The Lean Green Bean: Introduction to Foam Rolling
Love, Life, Surf: Yoga for Runners
Marcia’s Healthy Slice: Two Essential Yoga Poses for Runners
Your turn! What tips do you have to ease muscle soreness?