One of the hardest parts about exercise is feeling sore afterwards, right? When I try a new exercise, or get back into exercising (especially after having a baby), I forget how sore I will be after the exercise. Just a couple of months after my (almost) 2-year-old was born, I hit the gym ready to lose the baby weight. That first day I probably did 150 tricep exercises. I wasn’t using a very heavy weight, but I wasn’t used to working that muscle group so hard. I couldn’t even lift my arms to wash my hair for a week!
We enjoy being an active family. We go for family hikes, bike rides, walks, etc. My husband plays tennis 2 or 3 times a week (more if he can), and I enjoy running. Recently I’ve been training for a full marathon. I’ve done several half marathons before, but I decided to train for a full marathon to challenge myself, and accomplish a goal. I’ve run one other full marathon, but I wasn’t impressed with my time, and I know I can do better.
I’ve learned a lot about recovery from these experiences. The day isn’t over just because I’ve just run 22 miles. On the contrary, the day has usually just started for my family despite the fact that I’ve been running for the past 4 hours (I’m kinda slow). I typically only have an hour or so for recovery after these long runs so I’ve had to implement some strategies to recover quickly and still have energy to enjoy the day.
First and foremost
Hydrate during the activity to maintain proper fluid levels and increase blood flow/circulation after. Drink lots of water/gatorade after the exercise.
Follow a Stretching Routine
There are a lot of great resources online to lead you in some stretching routines. Or take a class or two from your local gym and write down the stretching exercises they follow. I’m not into yoga, but I know several people love this exercise. You need to release the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during the exercise, and stretching helps. The more flexible you are, the less likely you will hurt something during exercise.
I follow a couple of stretches after my runs.
Calf stretch: stand on the edge of a stair with your toes on the stair and your heel hanging off the back. Allow one foot at a time to drop below the stair. Repeat with the other foot.
Hamstring stretch: It looks like a mountain pose (in yoga), one leg in front of the other, bend the front knee and keep the back leg straight, the back heel may be slightly lifted from the floor. To provide a deeper stretch bend at the waist. In this same stretch, bend at the hips towards the back leg and it will stretch your hip flexor.
Quadriceps stretch: This is a balance pose, so check your balance and use the wall or a chair to help if needed. Grab your ankle and bring it up to the back. Hold for a few seconds.
I also do several stretches on the floor. Sit with the soles of your feet touching, knees out to the side and as close to the floor as possible. Bend forward at the hips (keep your back straight).
Keep your legs straight and in front and bend at the waist to touch your toes (or as close as you can get).
Appreciate the benefits of an Ice Bath
I know this sounds painful, and definitely not enjoyable. It really isn’t. But if you look into the habits of any professional athlete, it always includes an ice bath after a workout. The ice water helps reduce inflammation and the inflammation is what creates stiffness. I will sit in an ice bath for about 10 minutes after my long run. I drink water or gatorade while sitting in the bath. I also take a few ibuprofen, again to help with inflammation and soreness.
Get a Massage
I don’t get a massage after each long run, but I would sure enjoy it. Get a massage after the exercise, not before, and it will help further release the lactic acid build up from the exercise. I use a foam roller like this one
Just a couple of minutes with this foam roller provides similar benefits to a massage, and at half the price of one massage!
This may sound counterintuitive but continuing to move will prevent stiffness from setting in. It also keeps the circulation up so the blood can reach the muscles and provide oxygen to help with recovery.
Exercise can create soreness and aching muscles, but the benefits are totally worth it!