November 28th, 2012

7 Tips for Muscle Soreness and a 20 miler done

We’re home! We made it back after a long day of traveling yesterday, and are all three still catching up on our sleep and happy to be home.  But we had a really, really great trip, and saw both sides of the family, celebrated my brother’s wedding, had two Thanksgiving dinners, and caught all the grandmas.  We even saw a dusting of snow before heading home Tuesday morning!

I got my 20 miler in Monday morning as planned.  Despite whining about 30 degree temperatures, it was actually perfect running weather (as all you northern runners know).  What was less perfect was my memory of the back country roads behind my parent’s house.

I attempted an old 13 mile loop that I haven’t done in years, and missed a turn. In the process, I plowed over hill after hill maintaining what is usually an “easy” long run pace (about a 9 minute/mile pace).  By the time I turned back, I could tell my quads would be toast, so I took it extra easy on the hilly portions on the way home.

My watch died at mile 15, and I had to call my mom to verify the final turn but I made it home at almost exactly 20 miles, tired but happy.

We took advantage of free babysitting and went out for a movie that evening, but two and a half hours of movie theater sitting post long run was not my smartest idea.  Following that with a 7 hour travel day home made for some tight muscles today!

Thankfully, my shins feel great.  I think the last time I experienced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) was after my first marathon, when my sore quads had me hobbling up and down stairs.  It’s not that bad this time, but I’ll be running a very easy pace today.

DOMS is general soreness, not the sharp pain of an injury. The soreness is a normal response to extra or unusual exertion, and simply means that there were microscopic tears to muscle fibers that need to heal. Running long in flat Houston is quite different from the roads I was covering, and my muscles let me know it!


TIPS for Dealing with Muscle Soreness

1) Active Recovery or Yoga: Light, easy cross training such as cycling or swimming can help ease muscle soreness and speed recovery. Stretching and simple yoga exercises can help as well.

2) Foam Rolling or Massage: Gentle massage can help increase blood flow to the muscles and encourage recovery.  Here’s an article on foam rolling.

3) Wait it out: The soreness will lessen each day.  Post marathon, it’s best to rest and wait out any soreness.  It’s harder to rest completely in the middle of  a training cycle (or when you’re scheduled to teach spin the next day!)

4) Compression: I love my calf sleeves and recovery socks.  I could have used compression shorts or tights yesterday!

5) Ice: Although research hasn’t proven with certainty that ice helps reduce soreness, many athletes believe it makes a difference.

6) Anti-Inflammatories: Taking Ibuprofen or an equivalent won’t necessarily speed up the healing process, but it can make you feel better.

 7) Embrace the pain: DOMS is part of the adaptive process.  It’s almost inevitable for beginners, and happens less often with time, but is always a sign that your body was challenged and doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

You can prevent DOMS altogether by increasing your workouts gradually, warming up before exercising, and avoiding major changes in the type or extent of your exercise.

Have you experienced DOMS? Do you wait it out, or exercise through it?

Also, the Nature Box winner is Melinda… email me with your address!

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