Don’t Ignore Recovery in Your Training Regime

After You Run, Recover with Self Care

By Dr. Sabrina Landers, DPM 
This article originally appeared in the BAPA Villager.

BAPA’s 45th Ridge Run is Mon., May 29. Here are a few tips for recovery following the race. 

Cool Down!  

Lactic acid builds up in muscle tissue during intervals of intense activity. After a period of rest, you may experience pain and cramping in your legs and feet. To avoid this issue, take 5 to 10 minutes to stretch and continue low impact movements to allow the lactic acid to dissipate in your muscles immediately following the race. 

Heat Up! 

A hot shower or some time in a sauna following the race can help with muscle recovery. Muscles relax during the heating process. As blood vessels dilate, the increased blood flow to the area will speed up healing times. Contrast hot and cold baths can increase blood flow while limiting post-race inflammation.   

Recovery Shoes 

Once your hard work has paid off and you have registered your best race record, it is time to put those running shoes away! Recovery shoes such as Hoka and Oofos are a great way to allow your feet to rest. Recovery shoes are designed to allow post-race swelling and offer a break from the confines of your running shoes. 

Recovery Clothes 

Post race compression clothing can help mitigate swelling. Compression socks and pants will promote proper blood flow that helps heal the wear and tear on the muscles in your legs and feet. Socks should be knee high if worn without other compression garments to prevent swelling at the ankle. 

You Are What You Eat . . .   

Immediately following the race, you should find a light snack of well-balanced fruits. Your body is in an acidic state and most fruits are alkalizing which will further aid in the cool down period. After a few hours, you should pack your diet with vegetables along with some lean meat and a few carbs. This will help rebuild muscle and get you ready to move the following day. 

Sleep! 

You spent countless hours preparing for this day. It is time for the ultimate key recovery point: a great night’s sleep. Before bed, you should engage in a relaxing full body stretch. Start with your neck and gently stretch and relax the muscles all the way down to your feet. This will release any residual lactic acid that may have accumulated during the race and allow for a fresh, pain free start to the next day. 

You have the tools for success! Good luck! We look forward to seeing you at Ridge Park for the race on May 29.  

Sabrina Landers, DPM, is a board certified Podiatrist at Keir Foot and Ankle Specialists, 11628 S. Western, 773-941-4040. This article is part of a series on training for a 5K or 10K.