Are you feeling a bit sluggish after your runs and walks? Tired, achy and sore the next day? Still feeling your muscles when you go to do your next workout?
Your body may be in need of some extra recovery. Rest and recovery are an equally important component of your program as the actual runs and walks. If your body is not fully recovered after a run, and before you go into your next one, you may be putting yourself at risk for injury.
Some useful recovery tips:
1. Don’t skip your post-run cool down and stretch. Our muscles tend to shorten and get tight following a run. It’s important to return these muscles to their original length before trying to run again. If you skip the stretching, you’ll be starting your next run in an already stiffened state which will force your muscles to have to work harder than they should. This can lead to injury.
2. Get in the water! A pool, a bathtub, the ocean (brrrr…mabye not the Pacific at this time of year!) – hydrotherapy is great for the muscles. High level athletes use hydrotherapy following heavier workouts to help with inflammation, circulation, and relaxation. You may not think of yourself as a high level athlete, but you are stressing your body and your body will still thank you for it. Try a contrast bath. This works best where you have access to a pool and a hot tub – alternating every minute or so from one to the other for about 15 minutes. You can do this with a shower hose as well on your legs – run the cold water over your muscles for a minute, then warm water, and keep switching for at least 10 minutes.
3. Re-hydrate! Make sure you replenish the fluids lost in your body. A good rule of thumb is 1/2 to 1 litre of water for every hour of activity. Sport drinks are typically not needed unless your activity is greater than an hour. Be sure to be hydrating with water throughout the day as well. Monitor the color of your urine (it should be clear to straw colored) to be sure you’re not dehydrated. Dehydration affects your muscles and can lead to muscle cramping.
4. Rest Days – Be sure to take a rest day after your running days. It doesn’t have to be passive rest (i.e. doing nothing!), active rest from running is fine. Go for an easy bike ride or a swim, do a yoga class; something different that uses different muscles and isn’t as as stressful on your muscles and joints.
Stick to the program, follow some of these recovery tips and you’re on your way to a successful finish of the program and the Sun Run!
Timberly George BScPT BScKin
Registered Sport Physiotherapist
City Sports & Physiotherapy Clinic