The recovery process is an important part of being a runner. It is something we all must go through, yet can be frustrated at the amount of time it takes to heal.
Fear no further the struggle of recovery, because there are several ways in which you can heal faster than you ever have before.
Only a few simple adjustments to your daily routine can guide you to healthier and stronger running.
Half of running is about recovering. The more time you dedicate in your recovery process, the more miles you will be able to achieve.
1. Hydration Is Key
It seems too simple, but hydration can actually help you perform better and recover faster. Hydration supplies your muscles with the nourishment it needs to be able to conquer the demands of running.
However, not all your hydration has to come through water. Some techniques of ensuring proper hydration is to eat foods that have a higher amount of water, which in turn can help your body keep the nutrients it needs in your system.
Drinking water within 10-15 minutes of your run can increase your recovery process, which means less time with the initial aches and pains of running. The more you keep in communication with your body that it will get the hydration it needs, the better you can perform on a daily basis.
2. Protein Speeds Recovery
Protein is the majority of what makes up your muscles, which is why it is essential to have the right amount of protein in your system to speed the recovery process after running. Your body needs a mix of dietary protein as well as foods that are high in amino acids. Whey protein is commonly used for muscle recovery as a dietary supplement that can aid the process of your muscles building up more strength.
Not only is protein important, but so is carbohydrate intake. Within 30 minutes of working out, your body is at the perfect level to intake carbohydrates that can refuel your body. Consider prepping a meal before you head out for a run, or even have a smoothie ready when you return to intake the nutrients you need to perform better.
Equip yourself with the right knowledge of recipes that can help you stay healthy and strong. Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky's new recipe book Run Fast Eat Slow can guide you to healthier running through recipes that are designed to help running recovery.
3. Steer With Compression Gear
There is a lot of hype about compression gear, but at the end of the day, it may help you. Studies reveal that there is no concrete evidence that compression gear can physiologically help your system, but it can give you the feeling of support that helps you stay strong during your runs.
Compression gear was originally designed to help medical conditions of swelling, not necessarily for performance enhancement. Wearing compression gear after running for 24 hours is more effective in aiding muscle repair than just using compression gear while exercising.
There is limited scientific research that reveals compression can help your performance, but it can help if you experience painful swelling when you run. Whether you choose to wear compression gear while running, or simply use it after to increase blood flow, it can help bring you to a better place of recovery.
4. Heat Versus Ice Bath
Many have heard the tales of heat versus ice when it comes to taking bath after a hard workout, and the truth comes to the conclusion that it depends on your situation. Ice is used to decrease inflammation, which can feel painful or bothersome. However, inflammation acts as an agent to trigger the process of healing. If you completely stifle it, then it can hinder the healing process. Which is why you should only be immersed in ice for ten minutes or so.
Heat can assist your muscles to relax and calm down after a hard run, which can speed your muscle recovery. Yet, there is evidence that using ice and heat can trigger faster recovery. A method known as Contrast Hydrotherapy gives strong sensations through temperature and movement that can aid the healing process for injuries and muscle recovery.
Limited studies reveal the benefit of either ice or heat. It is up to you to decide what works best for you.
5. Relax With Massage Therapy
When your body is stressed from intense running, it has a hard time repairing itself. Massage therapy has the ability to aid the process of recovery by relaxing your muscles and breaking up potential scar tissue.
The best types of massages for a runner are Deep tissue, Swedish, and Active Release Technique (A.R.T). Find a massage therapist that understands the demands of running and can respond to your body's needs. Every injury, race, and recovery time holds a different intensity on your body, which means you need a massage therapist who can adapt with you.
In some cases, a massage can feel more like another workout to recover from. However, massage therapy can help ease the pains of running that hinders the body's ability to heal. By reducing cortisol (stress) hormones and decreasing pain, your body will be able to find balance in repairing itself.
6. Quality Sleep
Sleep is essential for the recovery process of running. Sleep allows your body to regenerate and wake up stronger the next morning. Researchers reveal how enough quality sleep can improve your overall energy and ability to increase your performance level.
It can be hard to manage good sleep when your life is rather hectic, but if you include even small 20 minute naps during your day, your body will be able to spark its natural recovery process for rebuilding your muscles.
If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid screens and caffeine a couple hours before you intend to sleep. A routine can also help you wind down for the evening and lets your body relax into sleep for better recovery.
7. Keep Moving With Active Recovery
Your body is designed to keep moving, even when injury prevails. Before, recovery was about staying still and letting your muscles heal. Now, specialists and trainers are advocating for active recovery to keep your muscles continually moving to build up strength.
Active recovery means doing a moderate amount of activity with low impact. Try swimming, cycling, or yoga on your active recovery days to achieve optimal recovery and performance.