As you begin your running regime, you will be taxing your leg muscles in ways they aren't used to, and the results will be sore muscles. The more you challenge them, the more they will complain. Here we look at some good ways to combat sore muscles after running.
It is a controversy right now whether or not stretching can help prevent muscle cramps. Australian researchers published a study in 2007 concluding that stretching did nothing to prevent either injury or soreness. This information went in the face of a century of assumption about exercise and stretching. But, even with the publication of this study, most people still want to stretch.
Use dynamic stretches before your run and static stretches after. Dynamic stretching means you gradually stretch the muscles of your leg, little by little, to the limit of their range of motion. This helps prepare them for running. After your workout, static stretching may help prevent soreness. For static stretching, stretch your muscles as far as they will go, and hold the position. Do not do static stretches before your run, as it has been shown to impede performance.
Dull the Pain
Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, are a simple and effective way to reduce soreness. They don't actually help the torn muscles heal faster, but they do dull the inevitable pain. Ice can help numb pain and reduce swelling also. Another popular treatment for muscle pain is contrast baths. Contrast baths involve switching the temperature of the water surrounding your sore muscles. Ideally, you go back and forth between water as hot as you can stand, to water as cold as you can stand. There is not a lot of scientific evidence to back up the use of contrast baths and ice. But, there are a great many professional athletes who swear by the treatment.
Heat It Up
A new method for curing sore muscles is being studied by researchers at Brigham Young University. The heat method. Clinical trials involve putting heating pads on the sight of the soreness and measuring the pain relief. The study is testing the theory that heat will increase the muscle temperature, which in turn will bring fresh blood to the torn muscle. The increased blood flow brings healing nutrients to the wound, as well as flushing away the chemical irritants responsible for the pain. Good sources of heat for this treatment include the traditional heating pad, as well as more modern techniques. The study itself used portable air-activated heat wraps, a product called ThermaCare, applied directly to the skin.
Take It Easy
Athletes used to be told that their muscles were sore because of the build up of lactic acid inside them, caused by exercise. They were told the best way to combat it was to exercise some more, and flush the acid out. New research suggests this is not true. Your muscles are sore because they are torn. Tiny tears all over the tissue of your muscles are natural; they grow back bigger and stronger. But, to be able to grow back, they need to rest. Consider a lighter run or even a walking day, if your muscles are stiff. They are telling you they need time to heal without being retorn.
Muscles are sore because they have been torn. The best way to combat pain is to let them heal from their ordeal. In the meantime, many methods can help with the pain, from medication to hot and cold baths. Go at your own pace and listen to your body; it will tell you when your need a break.