So you can barely move your legs and each step feels like something is constantly stabbing you in the leg …and don’t get me started on stairs.
Walking up a short staircase is like climbing a mountain.
Sore legs from running or a hard workout are not the most pleasant experience.
And definitely makes you want to consider never doing it again especially if you are new to running. (We all have at least questioned why we continue to run)
Now soreness in the body is almost unavoidable in running and really any kind of physical activity. (I’m sure we have all gotten sore from moving a few boxes or doing outside yard work)
However, there are methods to reduce the soreness.
To keep the soreness from possibly slowing you down at your full-time job or from you hating running, I’ll be going some ways to minimize soreness after runs and workouts.
Cool Down Run or Jog
Let’s be honest with each other, we (including myself) have all skipped a cool down run at some point (Don’t act as you’ve never skipped it! I know you have!)
Before I make any more accusations, let me describe the term to those of you not familiar with a cool-down run.
It is simply running at a relaxed and fairly slow pace after you complete that main portion of the workout or run (such as after a hill or tempo workout) hence the name “cool down”.
The reason a cool down run is so important in reducing soreness after runs by helping to remove built-up lactic acid and other bi-products.
Furthermore cool down runs or jogs provide proper blood flow to the muscles that you normally wouldn’t get if you just stopped and sit down on the couch.
Now, I completely understand why a good portion of runners skip over a cool-down run sometimes, because they think
“I just went all out on the high-intensity run or workout why do I need to run an extra few minutes at a slow pace??”
And it’s really not hard to slip into that previous mentality, but the thing is a cool-down can be fairly easy since it’s at a slow pace. (Okay, it may not be super “easy” after a hard workout, but still).
I recommend most people should run for 5-10 minutes at a pace slower than your normal running pace which in turn will help speed up the recovery process for your body.
Stretching is similar to cool down runs in that stretching also helps reduce muscle stiffness to increase recovery speeds.
But stretching after runs also go hand in hand with cool down runs because runners know they should stretch out the muscles after a hard run, but don’t always do it.
The reason stretching can help reduce soreness after runs are that your muscle fibers tighten up from running or any exercises and stretching can help loosen the muscles to better deliver nutrients and oxygen to the muscles.
Even though stretching is important this doesn’t mean you need to go through a one-hour yoga session stretching your entire body and becoming “one with nature” (even though I highly recommend it if you have the time!)
Instead as a runner, you should at least take 10-15 minutes to stretch out your quads, hamstrings, calves, hips, and hip flexor after a hard run.
Resting your body allows your body to recover faster, but sleeping and napping take this to the next level.
And honestly, nothing beats a good nap (okay maybe a steak dinner, or a day on the beach!)
There is a reason why professional athletes such as basketball superstar LeBron James and top-ranked tennis player Andy Murray are so supportive of sleep.
When you are napping or sleeping your body can focus almost all its energy on repairing itself faster which allows those sore muscles from running to go away faster.
In comparison, when you are awake and active your body is focused on functioning not recovering.
Now, I understand many readers are either working full-time or going to school full-time which means making time for a good nap kind of difficult.
So I recommend these people to just get extra sleep at night (that means putting the phone down and actually closing your eyes) or if you run on the weekends take your naps then.
Again if you want to avoid sore legs from running you need to actually let your muscles rest as much as possible.
Hydrate and Eat Food
Hydrate, Hydrate, and Hydrate with water (And no not with soda, beer, or coffee)
After intense workouts and runs, your muscles have a bunch of micro-tears (hence the soreness), and your body is trying to repair or rebuild itself.
And just like a house needs wood to be built or a car needs metal to be built, your body needs materials to rebuild the muscles a.k.a water and food.
If you decide to not eat after running, your body will try to use its stored resources as energy (this can be great for weight loss!) which can mean repairs to the body can be slower, therefore, increasing longevity of soreness.
That doesn’t mean eating a big steak and drinking a gallon of water after a 10-mile run is going to instantly relieve your sore legs (actually it might give you a sore stomachache).
Eat and drinking is just going to help speed up the muscle repair not relieve it, but be careful not all foods are equal.
For runners, I recommend high protein and or moderate carbs.