Q: What can I do to recover as quickly as possible after a tough workout or a race?
A: There are so many ways that it’s actually shocking to me that I ever struggled with soreness… I wish I could go back and time and tell my 22 year old self to read this and then I wouldn’t be sore for three days after every single long run and for two weeks after my first marathon. I also would have told my 22 year old self not to start the run still drunk from the night before. But I digress…
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for avoiding muscle soreness:
1- Keep moving. This is counter-intuitive, but it’s so effective. Very easy biking, swimming, yoga, or even gardening or walking for 30-60 minutes should do the trick.
2- Eat something immediately after the workout. Ideally, your snack is mostly carbs, with some protein, and a little fat (chocolate milk is a good, portable choice).
3- Re-hydrate immediately after your workout, and continue to drink water all day.
4- Take an ice bath. I don’t mean a lukewarm or tepid bath. I mean you should go the gas station on your way home, pick up a ten pound bag of ice, dump it in your tub, fill it with cold water, put on a hat, grab a magazine or find a good podcast (I am LOVING Serial and cannot believe I only just discovered it!), then set your timer for 20 minutes and hop in.
5- Put on some compression socks, sleeves, tights, or whatever you’ve got. I like these. They are expensive, but you can probably get a Black Friday dilio. There are so many uses for them. I wear them after hard workouts, during a hard workout, on planes, and often when pregnant. Just a note if you are too pregnant to comfortably clip your toenails- Be sure to have an extra pair of hands to help you take them off because these puppies are seriously compressive!
6- Next, put your feet up. If you can lie down or get your feet up on the couch, that is great, but if you can place a pillow or two under your ankles, that’s even better.
7- Take a nap.
8- Take an epsom salt bath. This one doesn’t have to be a torture session (see #4).
You don’t have to do all of these to see a difference. Just eating a healthy snack or meal immediately post workout and doing a 30 minute recovery bike ride is enough for me to see a huge difference. What about you? What are your favorite recovery strategies? Are there any that I missed?