Over the past several years I have become use to the feeling of sore, tired legs. As a runner that is something I come to expect and I am okay with that. It just means my legs are getting stronger.
While I have never taken an ice bath, I have taken ibuprofen after a long run and have iced an isolated area on my leg.
Muscle soreness will always be apart of my running, but there are ways to help lessen the soreness. Besides ice and ibuprofen, nutrition also plays a large part in helping to relieve some of our muscle soreness.
I’ve talked about the importance of hydrating during a run, but did you know drinking electrolyte replacement drinks help ease sore muscles? As we run for longer amounts of time, our glycogen stores deplete themselves leaving our muscles to rely on protein. Using our own protein is fine, but it leads to increased muscle soreness. Taking in electrolytes through drinking helps to boost up our glycogen stores, therefore our muscles do not have to use so much of our own protein. Simply put, consume electrolyte replacement drinks during long runs to help ease soreness.
Another way to reduce muscle soreness is to consume some protein or amino acids before you run. The protein increases blood amino acid levels during your run, which serves as a biochemical signal that tells your muscles to not break down protein for fuel.
You’ll want to consume protein post run as well. Consuming protein post meal will not help reduce muscle soreness, but it will reduce the negative effects of muscle damage on your ability to run the next day. The sooner your consume protein post run, the sooner your muscles can begin to repair themselves. If you do not consume protein post run, our muscles work harder and longer to repair themselves which can cause your next run to be slow and painful.
I often stress the importance of healthy eating and that is for a reason. Much of the muscle damage that occurs during and after our runs is caused by free radicals. If you consume a diet that is high in antioxidants, it will strengthen your internal defense again exercise-induced free radical damage. So make sure to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables!
I know many people cringe at the thought of consume fat (myself included), but there are essential fats that we need. The extra fat will help protect our muscles against free radical damage during and after runs by strengthening cell membranes. Try fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fats are fish, nuts, and flaxseeds.
I love coffee. Like really love coffee. A little coffee is actually beneficial for runners! It helps to lower our perceived rate of pain. For more information on the benefits of coffee, read my article HERE!
Lastly, please listen to your body. There is a difference between normal muscle soreness and pain. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, but you do NOT want to ignore actual pain as there could be something wrong and it could cause further problems.