How to recover after your first session back

static hamstring exercise

So we are what feels like a year into lockdown and starting to think about getting back to normal. Then your ‘friend’ nominates you for the run for heroes appeal. Run 5km, donate £5 and nominate 5 others. Problem was, you hadn’t run 5km in some time. Was this the perfect opportunity you had been waiting for to get back into it?

Ouch!

Now you’re sore, in places you had forgotten you could be sore. Walking, heck, even getting off the couch now seems like a mammoth effort worthy of being sponsored! You certainly didn’t follow the 10% progression rule and now you’re desperate to recover quickly before your kids run amuck and you lose the drive to go running ever again.

So what can you do to speed up the recovery process?!

Salt baths

Epsom salt baths are virtually medieval in their usage. We lay in a hot bath filled with mineral salts, absorbing them while we relax. It sounds too good to be true but there is a lot of efficacy in this simple method. Relaxing is likely half the benefit as it can lower stress hormones and allow the promotion of hormones that aid in recovery. Beyond that, how much magnesium we actually absorb is still unknown.

Give it a try and see how you feel. Magnesium is shown to reduce inflammation and can help with things like blisters, as well as promoting a good nights sleep. Both things that should be encouraged. There’s always topical magnesium creams or supplements if you want to be sure you’re getting the important mineral.

Gentle foam rolling

Gentle here implies that although it may not be comfortable at first, we aren’t trying to get hugely deep into any particular muscle group or make anything hurt intentionally. We should aim for moderate to light pressure and spend around a minute on each sore area. If anything is really tight we can add some light stretching but it’s important to note that stretching done too aggressively now may hinder our recovery – not help it.

Compression garments

Those lycra clad guys and girls may be onto something. Tight compression garments such as calf socks or full length tights do actually aid in the recovery process. By encouraging and increasing venous return our body is able to remove waste products and promote healing a bit faster. Even the old classic ‘tubi-grip’ bandages can help.

More exercise

The worst thing you can do now is stop moving. Walking, even a light cycle or jog could be the thing you need to get rid of the heavy/sore feeling. Upping the blood flow to sore muscles is beneficial, as is getting inflamed joints loose again. Yoga, some self guided light stretching and generally moving about will do wonders. Have a dance around the living room, just make sure you logged out of Zoom first!

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