My latest post focused on injury prevention and management. Today we are going to look into tips for an optimal post-run recovery, which is just as important.
Top tips for post-run recovery By Jonathan Grayson from Six Physio (sixphysio.com)
Recovery on the day – If the run was a breeze and you felt some mild muscle soreness (that good pain from a workout) then the key is to keep well hydrated and eat some form of protein-rich food. This will help flush out the lactate build up and replenish muscle fibres from the micro-trauma sustained. Light static stretching at this point can be done but is not essential. – If you’ve pushed through your threshold and felt some pain, then icing immediately afterwards on the affected area for 10-20mins at a time, up to every few hours for 24-48 hrs can help give short-term relief. If you’re feeling brave you can try an ice bath for your legs for 10mins!
Recovery the day after the race – This is key! Inflammation from micro-trauma builds overnight. This leads to scar tissue formation and excessive muscle stiffness unless it is eased out. A simple 30min light cycle or swim the day after can aid a quicker recovery. Especially after your long run if training for an event. Don’t just rest…recover.
The week after the race – If you felt pain during and after the run then it is likely that you have damaged the muscle soft tissue. It is important to know the phases of soft tissue healing process to prevent causing further injury.
o Phase 1 – bleeding 0-48hrs
o Phase 2 – inflammation up to 5-10days
o Phase 3 – proliferation up to 3-6 weeks
o Phase 4 – remodelling up to months/years
– If Phase 1 and 2 respond to general PRICE treatment and ease pain then you can return to running within phase 3 and gradually build back up. If this is still pain-free then keep going, as phase 4 continues without you knowing about it.
– However if pain persists with return to running after 5-10 days then get treatment.
PRICE treatment broken down (http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Sprains/Pages/Treatment.aspx):
– Protection – protect the injured area from further injury by using a support or (in the case of an ankle injury) wearing shoes that enclose and support your feet, such as lace-ups.
– Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injuring yourself. Your GP may recommend you use crutches.
– Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the day. Do not leave the ice on while you are asleep, and do not allow the ice to touch your skin directly, because it could cause a cold burn.
– Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. You can use a simple elastic bandage or elasticated tubular bandage available from a pharmacy. It should be wrapped snuggly around the affected area, but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
– Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. If your leg is injured, avoid having long periods of time where your leg is not raised.
Thank you Jonathan and six physio for all these great tips. With race season just starting for me, I need to focus on my recovery as much as my training in order to go from one race to another. The only extra recover tip that I would add is the following:
Treat yourself to a massive brunch! It’s all about the brunch 😉
What are your tips to recover after a tough run/race? Let me know!