Post-run aches and pains are unpleasant at best, and can put a halt to your running schedule at worst. We talk to recovery experts WholyMe to find out how we can minimise muscle aches after we run...
Aching muscles affect everyone, from complete beginners to world-class athletes.
Some of us will feel these aches and pains within the first 12 hours after exercise, which is known as ‘acute soreness’. If the pain peaks around 48 hours after exercise, this this is ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’, or DOMS.
Why do our muscles ache after we run?
Let’s be clear – aches and muscle soreness are different from an injury. For example, pulling or tearing a muscle is an injury, which requires specific treatment, whereas acute soreness and DOMS are just part and parcel of working out.
Exercise can create tiny micro-tears in your working muscle, which is where the aching and soreness arises. The aching usually occurs when you perform a completely new exercise that your body is not used to, or you increase the type, intensity or duration of a familiar exercise.
How can we minimise these aches?
While it’s no bad thing, DOMS can be unpleasant and get in the way of our other daily activities. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimise the soreness and get you feeling back at full strength in no time.
This first tip may seem counterintuitive, but some light movement can help speed up the healing process as it encourages oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to flow to the affected areas.
There’s no need to go crazy here, as anything too intense may cause further pain. Instead, opt for gentle exercise like a light jog, walk, cycle, or swim. Stretching can also help, so a yoga class is also a smart idea!
Use cold therapies
Brrr! While the idea of getting into cold water may be unpleasant, it has a lot of benefits and can help you prevent aching muscles.
When exposed to cold temperatures, like an ice pack or cold shower, the blood vessels on your skin will constrict, impede blood flow, and alleviate pain and inflammation.
Try applying an ice pack to overused areas of your body, or take a cold bath or shower soon after exercise. It may seem unpleasant, but this is a great way to minimise muscles ache after workout.
Take a nice warm bath
When you have used cold therapy in the hours following a workout, your attention can then turn to heat therapy and warm baths, which can enhance blood flow and loosen aching muscles.
Soaking in a warm (not hot) bath can help improve your circulation and relax your muscles, so is a good course of action the day after exercise, when any acute pain has subsided.
You can boost your bath by using Epsom salts (we recommend our WholyMe Relief Salts!). Epsom salts have been used for centuries to aid relaxation and recovery. Our salts are infused with organic arnica oil and frankincense oil, which both boast anti-inflammatory properties.
Eat to reduce inflammation
The foods we put into our body can help us prevent and treat aches and pains. After an intense exercise session, prioritise protein, as it is a critical nutrient in muscle repair. Protein-rich foods include lean meats, eggs, fish, beans, tofu, tempeh, and protein powders.
You can also eat more anti-inflammatory foods, which will help your body fight the inflammation that causes pain. Good anti-inflammatory foods include green leafy vegetables, almonds, walnuts, seeds, tomatoes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, oranges and olive oil.
Try some topical relief
Try relief balms, creams, gels, patches and other remedies. These can minimise muscle aches and speed up the healing process, without the negative side effects that come with OTC painkillers.
We use 12 evidence-based natural ingredients in our WholyMe Relief Balm, including organic arnica oil, rosemary oil, and wintergreen oil, which have been proven to ease aches and pains.