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Have you ever experienced sore and stiff muscles after a race or run? It's totally normal, and it's called delayed onset muscle soreness. You might feel it 24-48 hours after your workout. No worries though, there are different ways to recover from it. You just have to find which method works best for you. Recovering properly after a workout can really help you prepare for your next training session.
Recovery is ensuring the body can repair itself, so you can perform and push towards a powerful maximum the next time you compete or train. Your recovery initially begins from the moment you begin your cool-down. After a running session, preparing your muscles and joints for the next session should be the first thought in mind. Therefore stretching, nutrition, compression gear, massage and ice baths can be exceptionally helpful in aiding recovery for any upcoming events.
After a long hard workout, part of a great and effective recovery is organising and preparing what you're going refuel your body with – ideally before you've begun your race or training! This will ensure your body gets the required nutrients immediately. This is something many of us often forget or don't have time to do – in fact, not many of us realise how vital nutrition and diet is to our body's recovery.
Your muscles will need a relatively high carbohydrate and protein intake almost immediately post workout. Replenishing and repairing muscle tears, protein will aid muscle recovery and help rebuild for the next session. Carbohydrates will replenish your body's glycogen stores, which are the source of your energy.
It's generally good to prioritise proper food in addition to supplements, as it offers more nutrients. I feel confident in recommending Tailwind, and Clif Bar (Builders or Nut Butter) is a great choice, having tried and tested them myself. They're not too heavy on the stomach, but keep me from feeling hungry straight after if I haven't had time to prepare food, or if it's been a late training session.
This is often an area that is neglected, therefore the next day when we wake up stiff, sore and fatigued muscles greet us! This is easily preventable. We all stretch when we warm up, so why do most of us choose not to after? From a personal point of view I'd say, stretching and cooling down after exercise is even more important than the warm up.
Our muscles are like elastic bands in a sense, so when we are nice and warm our muscles become lengthened, and once we become cool they shorten. So most importantly, stretching whilst your body is still warm – this is the perfect opportunity for a deep stretch – can improve muscle flexibility and range of movement.
Cooling down should consist of some very light gentle jogging, and some dynamic stretches will slowly allow the muscles to loosen, preparing them for a lengthier static stretching session afterwards. Aim to hold static stretches between 20-40 seconds.
Something you might like to consider trying is compression gear. This helps to promote recovery, as it provides the body with sustained blood flow, delivering oxygen faster to the muscles. But does it actually speed up recovery? Scientific research provides us with the information which actually suggests that they do.
We have no idea of actually knowing how much or how quickly compression works, but I do find myself reaching for a pair of calf guards or full length tights when my muscles tend to feel a little fatigued. I'd say they've been of help to me, especially during the tough winter months. If you are training frequently enough they will give you an edge on how you feel when you're recovering.
It's really good to have a massage! I think most would agree, right? Sports massage and deep tissue massage form an effective way to break up and reduce muscle tightness. It can be extremely painful – you will know what I mean if you've ever used some of the TP massage kit, in particular The Grid, best for ironing out the quads and IT bands. This company in particular has some of my favourite bits of massage kit.
An electric massage gun, such as the Flow brand is another option that could be helpful too. This is a percussive device designed to help relieve muscle soreness and tightness. It uses rapid, intense vibrations to penetrate deep into the muscles, increasing blood flow and promote faster healing. A massage gun typically comes with multiple interchangeable heads that allow for targeted massaging of different areas of the body. They have become popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts to enhance recovery and reduce muscle fatigue. They can also be used for overall relaxation and stress relief.
A massage ball is also great for the smaller muscle groups – it works well on the lower back, calves and glutes. It is a much cheaper alternative to a sports massage! But any type of deep tissue massage will break down any niggling knots.
An ice bath is one of the most effective ways to recover after a long run. It helps to ensure the muscles, tendons, and nerves return to their normal state. Gradually removing waste and lactic acid build up, and allowing the body to function better. The cool temperature allows the blood vessels to constrict and flush away the lactic. Inflammation and swelling will also be lessened as a result of cooling the body's core temperature.
Understandably, not all of us will want to plunge ourselves into the cold depths of an ice bath, so another alternative we recommend is using the UP freeze spray. This uses codl therapy technique, and can be used during or immediately after exercise. Ideal for muscle pain, joint pain, sprains, strains and minor sports injuries – works in similar way to an ice pack. The cold causes your blood vessels to constrict in the affected area, minimising damage and reducing swelling all at once.
Understandably, not all of us will want to plunge ourselves into the depths of an ice bath, so another alternative we recommend is using the UP Freeze Spray. This uses cold therapy technique, and can be used during or immediately after exercise. Ideal for muscle pain, joint pain, sprains, strains and minor sports injuries, it works in a similar way to an ice pack. The cold causes your blood vessels to constrict in the affected area, minimising damage and reducing swelling all at once.
This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Any exercises are ones we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises or advice, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
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