By: Christine Bieber, CPT
My favorite way to start my day is by going for a long run to clear my mind. With proper sneakers, food, a good night’s sleep, and water you can be guaranteed several health benefits from a long run. I personally live for the “runner’s high” feeling of increased endorphins, and feeling strong and toned is just an added bonus. However, in order for running to be beneficial, it is important to take care of your body after your run during recovery. In fact, your body is still burning calories up to 14 hours after a workout so your body is still working even after you have stopped. Taking time after your workout to ensure recovery takes effort, but it is worth it to see improvements rather than setbacks.
Between 5 to 10 minutes after a run you should elevate your legs against a wall or chair to prevent muscle soreness. Elevating the legs above the heart after a cool down and static stretching enables blood to recirculate, allowing the body to enjoy the benefits of the workout. About 10 to 20 minutes after a workout it is helpful for your muscles to shower and finish with cold water. Cold water helps by lowering the damaged tissue’s temperature and locally constricting blood vessels. A cold temperature also helps to numb nerve endings, providing you with instant, localized pain relief. Within 30 minutes after a workout it is important to drink plenty of water and replace your electrolytes with a sports drink, preferably with a lower sugar level than Gatorade.
Once you are hydrated from your run, you need to eat a meal with 4:1 or 3:1 carb to protein ratio within 60 minutes of your workout. Most dairy and meat products have a high level of protein. An egg has about 7 grams of protein, and a small chicken breasts has about 25 grams of protein which can make all of the difference for your recovery from a run. The recommended amount of protein after a workout is 10 to 20 grams, but it is important to not overdue it with those shakes that have 40 to 50 grams of protein. Lastly, my favorite post-run recovery method is foam rolling and stretching. Foam rolling releases any knots in your muscles that may have built up from an increase in lactic acid during the run which will make a major difference in your ability to move around the following day. Now you can enjoy your runs while being mindful of how your body feels!
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