Congrats, you just finished a long distance race! Whether it’s your first or your forty-first, your body will thank you if you give it a proper stretch and a rest to relieve muscle tension and soreness, as well as speed up recovery. From a small sample of long distance running enthusiasts, here’s a list of popular recovery techniques based on the body parts that tend to hurt most. Even better, all of these require very little equipment that is easily packable and ideal when you travel. OVERALL BODY:
- Keep Moving: low impact activity not to let your muscle seize and not to let them go into a state of shock. Favorites are walking, a light jog, and for adventurers out there, a Zumba class. I significantly rely on yoga and walking.
- Massage: Jenn Faraone, a trail running coach, gave me a tip to put your name on the list at the massage tent as soon as you finish a race and then get changed, get nutrition and hydration in you, and maybe even a shake out jog. That way when you’re done with all of that, you get treated to a (usually free) post-race massage
- Self-Massage via Foam Rollers: all kinds of foam rollers are widely available and especially useful in conjunction with YouTube videos on how to use them to aid in the recovery. After a race, nothing beats foam rolling to relieve and stretch gluteus muscles.
- Nutrition + hydration: stretching and massage is all good but your muscles need love from the inside too! Most people seem to be able to stomach a post-workout smoothie, a banana, peanut butter or an energy bar. Electrolytes are key as well and once all that’s figured out and the stomach settles, wine and beer seem to be among the top hydration choices! I personally love a hot, black cup of coffee.
- Hot + Cold Therapy Ball Rollers: helps to relieve tension in those poor feet by increasing circulation and massaging. I’m obsessed with Gaiam’s Hot and Cold Therapy Kit, because it’s versatile and costs $20.
- Downward dog with top of the feet stretches: a spin on the old favourite downward dog, that lengthens all main muscle groups, is to flip your feet to get a stretch them out across the top. For a more comfortable alternative, you can stretch one foot at a time while staying in downward dog.
- Compression socks / sleeves: most runners experience tight calves sometimes a day after a long run. If they’re super tight, a deep tissue massage is certainly the best but if you’re just looking to prevent the morning after tightness, try sleeping in compression socks or sleeves.
HIP FLEXORS :
- Pigeon pose: flex the front leg and push the left hip down into the ground. If you need a deeper stretch, you can put your upper body on top of the front leg.
Runners Lunge: has become my personal favourite because it has so many variations that even the least stretchy person can do. It’s ideal for gently relaxing tight muscles. If you have any additional tips and tricks that help you recover from a long race, please share them in the comment section!