While running can make us a great deal healthier, that doesn’t meant it always feels great. Especially when we’re increasing mileage or starting out, sore muscles from running are common and often a good thing!
The breakdown of muscle whether running or strength training is what tells the body build it back stronger.
Should you be sore after running?
Of course, you shouldn’t be so sore you can’t move. That just means you went too far beyond your current physical limits. But a little sore…pretty common.
You’re asking your body to do something new whether that means you’re trying to get through your first C25K with lots of walking or your first 26.2. It’s not a about distance or pace. It’s about the challenge to your body, which is exactly why you’re running!
There is a difference between being sore…super sore…and injured!
- Try following the 10% rule for increasing mileage
- Remember 80% of your week should be easy running
- Don’t forget that your body needs FUEL to recover, which means carbs, protein and fats
- If you can’t walk down the stairs, that’s not a day to push through with a run
How to relieve sore muscles from running?
We’ll run through some of the best ways to relieve muscle soreness, but it’s important to know that not all soreness is bad. Your body MUST break down to build back up stronger.
- Epsom salt bath
- Compression tights or socks
- Magnesium lotion
- CBD cream/Oil
- Light stretching
- Light activity
- Hydration with Electrolytes
Let’s go through each of these in a bit more detail to see why they work and what might be the best choice for you…or how to make them all part of your routine.
1. Epsom Salt Bath
One of my favorite rewards for a long run is a hot Epsom Salt Bath. That’s right, no more ice baths for runners!
Heat is a great way to loosen up tight muscles and of course there’s simply the matter of giving yourself time to do something RELAXING!
Pretty much any epsom salt you find is a great option, but add in some lavender if before bed for extra sleepy time.
2. Compression Tights
I do love my compression tights and possibly talk them up too much.
- Long runs in compression tights can provide extra support
- Hanging out in compression tights after long runs can increase blood flow to increase recovery
- Muscles that are tight or spasming feel better with compression (again increasing blood flow)
- Here’s the best compression pants and socks for running
3. Magnesium Lotion
This is my favorite sneaky tool because it’s like an Epsom salt bath in a bottle! We don’t always have time for that long lingering wonderful bath, so this is a way to get magnesium on those muscles.
The benefits of magnesium for runners are what make the bath and lotion so great:
- reduces muscle cramps
- helps with muscle fatigue
- can improve mood and fat loss if you’re low
4. CBD Cream and Oil
I’ve shared this before, but post knee surgery I started using CBD oil and my recovery speed up tenfold. It was truly the thing that got me running again.
Since then, I’ve also become a fan of using CBD Cream for aches in specific areas.
- Oil is great at night to help with whole body inflammation
- Oil is great at night to improve sleep (see number 9)
- Cream is perfect for a localized ache
- Bonus CBD bath bombs will help you sleep like a dream
Find out all the benefits of CBD Oil for athletes and how to use it.
If you need to take a pain reliever, then you’ve gone from soreness to something more and that’s not ok. You should not take pain relievers before running as it can cause liver damage and allows you to push your body beyond it’s limits.
Turmeric is a fantastic anti-inflammatory.
Just don’t take it immediately after a workout, you want that short term inflammation to occur for the build up we’ve discussed.
As I’ve said 122 times…QUALITY matters. Terry’s Naturally is what I’ve relied on and even found to help my dad with his Arthritis.
6. Light Stretching
Not everything we do needs to be hard core, high intensity or sweat breaking.
Restorative yoga for runners or light stretching are a great way to get some movement in the legs which helps get blood flowing and that can help remove the waste build up causing soreness.
- Recovery is about helping the body to reset
- You need SLOW activities to focus on good breathing
- You need SLOW activities to lower cortisol (your total body stress)
- Restorative yoga helps to open up tight hips
- Light stretching is also about opening up range of motion, not about building extensive flexibility
7. Light Activity
Much like the stretching, an easy walk or even easy bike ride is what we like to call active recovery.
Sometimes we need a day to simply sit, but active recovery is often what’s called for when we’re embarking on a new routine. It helps to keep the body from getting stiff and the simply slow easy movements, get the blood flowing which improves recovery and our mood.
Yup, our mood.
We talk about running being mental, but it turns out that your recovery is too!
You have to work on stress to optimize recovery and getting outside for some Vitamin D is hugely helpful in that recovery process as well.
8. Hydration + Electrolytes
Muscles that are dehydrated often feel more fatigued and sore. This is one of those it’s too simple to work suggestions that so often get overlooked…and then later my runners say “oh my gosh, electrolytes helped me so much!”
- Step 1 just grab a water bottle and start sipping all day long
- Step 2 throw in some electrolytes
- Electrolytes aren’t just about replacing the sodium lost during sweat
- Calcium potassium, magnesium and chloride are part of the mix as well to help maintain fluid balance and muscle contractions
Checkout the best electrolyte powders to start mixing ASAP.
No one every wants to hear this suggestion, but the BEST recovery tool that we all have is sleep.
In fact, multiple studies have shown us that an increase in sleep helps to improve performance. AND we know that one of the things elite runners rely on to train the way they do is a long night of sleep and a daily nap.
- Add a minute of sleep for every mile you’re running
- Get in to a sleep routine so that you start making it a priority
- Take weekend need naps after long runs
Sleep is when your body produces growth hormone which stimulates muscle growth and repair.
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