As runners we often don’t realise the damage we are doing to our bodies and therefore don’t allow adequate time for rest or recovery. Running results in a constant process of breakdown and repair of the muscles.
Over time this causes the muscles to become tight when the fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles) starts to thicken and shorten to protect the underlying muscle from further damage. When the fascia tightens this leads to restricted movement, gait adaptations and possible injury.
A sudden increase in pace (like a race), interval training or a longer run may result in stiff, tired legs the following day. Our instinct is to take the day off from training and rest but recent studies have shown that gentle exercise, massage and vibration therapy can help relieve our fatigued muscles and maintain flexibility.
Going for a light 20min run at a slow, easy pace or even a 30min walk can be beneficial. Make sure you include a 5min warm up and avoid hills to decrease the stress on your leg muscles.
Aqua jogging, yes, join those grannies in the pool! Use a pool noodle or aqua jogging belt to help you float and do a 20-30min session in the deep end. You can add slower intervals or walking breaks as you would on an easy run.
Studies have shown that vibration therapy decreases the extent of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and increases range of movement. Hyperice® have developed a range of products specifically for treatment using vibration – they have the Raptor® (hand held system that delivers rapid mechanical percussions), the Hypersphere® (localised vibration therapy to target trigger points) and the Vyper® (foam roller with a vibrating inner core).
Spoil yourself with an hour full body, deep tissue massage to stimulate blood flow and increase circulation in your stiff muscles. This enhanced blood flow delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissue and promotes the removal of waste products and toxins.
If you can’t afford a massage, use a foam roller as a self massage tool to ease out those tired muscles. 20-30secs per muscle group is adequate.
Maintaining muscle lengthen to restore flexibility will help you avoid picking up injuries.