Tag Archives: injuries

Sore muscle relief

23 Aug

Yesterday I posted about The DOMS – that anticipated yet dreaded muscle soreness after a new or tough workout. Today, I’d like to make good on my promise to follow up with some ways to relieve the soreness and help aid recovery. There are a lot of great articles and tips out there from other bloggers, so I’ll keep this really short and send you to those resources for more info.

So how can you get relief?

Rest and wait it out. This is always an option, as the soreness will subside after a few days. This may not be ideal if you’re in a training cycle, but if you’ve just run a big race, take a rest! This is why I implement a mandatory 3-Day Rest Rule after half marathons.

Compression. I swear by wearing compression socks during my longest runs and races and then for recovery. You can also wear all other sorts of compression gear – tights, shorts, arm/calf sleeves, etc. Here are 5 reasons why compression is awesome.

Foam rolling/massage/trigger point release. These methods encourage myofascial release by breaking down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. It also increases blood flow to help with recovery. There are a lot of handy tools like the Foot Rubz massage ball that you can use on sore muscles. I love this little guy! I’d like to get myself The Stick as well. You can even use a screwdriver or rolling pin… Just do yourself a Google for running self-massager tools and you will have a plethora of options.

image_3Active recovery. Engaging in some light cross-training or yoga can help loosen up those muscles and won’t make you feel like you’re working too hard. Swimming, walking, cycling, Tai Chi, etc. Just take it easy.

Anti-inflammatories. Whether you take an over-the-counter remedy (e.g., ibuprofen and other NSAIDS) or eat some foods that are natural anti-inflammatories, you can get some relief. Just remember that these won’t speed healing. Many foods like cherries, salmon, blueberries and ginger all reduce inflammation. Here’s a small sampling of these kinds of foods:

Ice. Even though there’s not really scientific evidence that ice aids healing, it’s something us runners swear by. Recently, there’s been some buzz about research coming out that has found ice baths to be minimally effective and largely not worth the time and discomfort. I knew there was a reason I never got into a tub of ice… I still ice my knees and feet if they are sore, but that’s not DOMS related.

Stretch. While you should not stretch cold muscles, an easy warmup or light cross training followed by a few key stretches can help loosen up sore muscles. Ohh…it hurts so good. There are probably hundreds of articles out there that claim to list the top stretches for runners. For me, stretching my calves, hips, quads, and hamstrings are essential. Here’s one I do regularly (usually the standing version):



Check out other collections of stretches here, here, and here. There are also some who say stretching is no good, so do some research and make the decision that you feel is right for you.

Keep moving. Even if you are taking rest days, don’t just sit on your butt waiting for it to stop. Staying completely sedentary can increase stiffness. So, move around the house a little, go outside, or take a short walk around the block. You may want to take the elevator instead of the stairs, though…

Question for you: How do you deal with The DOMS?



22 Aug

What is that, you ask? 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. The soreness that shows up anywhere from 12-24 hours after engaging in physical activity that works muscles in a way they are not accustomed to. The worst pain may be experienced 24-72 after exercising.

If you’ve ever started a new form of exercise, did a tough workout, strength-trained, walked a bunch of stairs, ran some hill repeats, raced in a long distance event, helped move a friend into their new place, or any activity that works untrained muscles, chances are you’ve experienced DOMS.


Why, oh WHY?!

“Most believe soreness develops as a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers involved the exercise.This type of damage likely results from novel stresses that were experienced during the exercise. One common misconception about DOMS is that it is due to lactic acid accumulation, but lactic acid is not a component of this process. DOMS appears to be a side effect of the repair process that develops in response to microscopic muscle damage.

– Info sheet from the American College of Sports Medicine.

But, why ME?!

Turns out, even all-star athletes are susceptible. Of course, soreness becomes less prominent once we get used to an exercise (say, the more our endurance for running increases), but any novel movement can create soreness.

There’s good news!

Exercise that produces soreness creates a partially protective effect that reduces the chance of soreness in that same activity weeks or months into the future.

Can we prevent it?

Not completely, but easing into a new exercise and warming up properly can help reduce the level of impending soreness. Some say stretching after exercise doesn’t really prevent DOMS, but I say it sure does provide some relief. Other things that can help are icing, massage, accupuncture, NSAIDs, and foods that are natural anti-inflammatories (like blueberries). Mostly, you just have to let it pass on its own.

Are DOMS an indicator of a good workout?

Not necessarily. DOMS can certainly mean you worked your muscles in a new way that will increase strength and endurance. However, “No pain, no gain” is generally a myth. Not having pain after a workout does not mean you didn’t go hard enough. You are still getting benefits and increasing fitness even if you aren’t climbing into an ice bath or clutching a walker afterward. As always, acute pain during exercise is a signal from your body to STOP.

Dealing with DOMS?

There are many, many articles available offering tips for relief using static stretching and handy tools like foam rollers. I will be following up this post with some of those suggestions!

Danger: Heat Zone

5 Jul

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July! I didn’t race, but I did a sweaty speed workout on the track in the morning before the BBQing began. To those who did race, I hope you stayed cool, ran fast, and enjoyed the festivities.

trackredwhiteblue wm

Hey, look! Red, white, and blue for Independence Day!

As I was at EMS the other day to grab a couple of things, the July issue of Women’s Running caught my eye. Without even glancing at this month’s features, I bought it. When I got home and started checking it out, it was clear that the universe put it in my path for a reason. The whole issue was dedicated to running in the heat.

julywomensrunningConsidering my recent struggles with this Summer’s scorching heat and tropical-esque humidity, I obviously needed to read this. In reading through an interview with a physiologist about the difficulties of running in the heat and potential heat-related illnesses, this smacked me right over the head:

heatdangerOh, hello. I’m pretty sure that what I was experiencing on that miserable long run was a mild case of heat exhaustion rather than an issue with hydration. I don’t know why this didn’t cross my mind previously, because I know about heat exhaustion. Talk about a real “duh” moment. I guess sometimes you just really need a big reminder.

Arm yourself with information. Here’s First-Aid for heat exhaustion.

Anyway, now that this article has scared me in all the right ways, I’m making sure to be extra careful about running in this heat. Some things that stood out to me so far in this month’s issue:

  • Temperatures above 80 degrees (F) have a negative impact on performance. Other factors, including personal, will determine risk for heat illness.
  • Your sweating rate plays a big factor in how prone you might be to heat illness (I’m a sweaty sweater).
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency and could be fatal if untreated.

Ways to prevent heat-related illnesses and stay cool:

  1. Let go of your expectations for pace and distance. Running in the heat is very tough and you should train based on how your body feels. Focus on effort rather than pace.
  2. Run before sunrise or late in the evening when the temperatures are cooler and the sun isn’t right on you.
  3. Wear as little clothing as possible! Or keep it loose. Wear a visor, sunglasses, sunscreen.
  4. Bring water or electrolyte drinks or set up a “cooling station” on your route with plenty of water, ice, fuel, towel.
  5. Take breaks.
  6. Dump water on yourself throughout the run or wear a bandanna around your neck with ice cubes in it.
  7. Run indoors with the AC up.
  8. Take up a hot yoga class to acclimate to the heat (Schedule it two days before or after your run).
  9. Bring your cell phone, wear your Road ID, run with a friend, and/or tell someone where you’re going.
  10. Be flexible. Check the weather and plan your runs for the week, but don’t force it if it’s too hot. It’s better to skip a run than hurt yourself.

Running in the heat is serious business, so be safe! Prevention is key, so if you start to feel any dizziness, lightheadedness, cramps, or nausea, stop.

On that note, I’m planning to get up before sunrise on a Saturday (tomorrow) to try and get a 10-11 mile run in before the earth catches on fire. I’m a little nervous about next weekend’s Boilermaker 15K, so getting through this run is going to be important in determining my race strategy.

Run happy and run safe!