Here’s How to Treat Post-Run Soreness

You wake up the next day after a run and your calves ache every time you move. What’s going on? When muscles experience strain, such as from a harder-than-usual workout, they can suffer micro-tears in the muscle fibers.

The body responds to this damage with inflammation, which comes on over the following 24 to 48 hours, which is why you often feel most sore a full day or even two days after a big workout.

Unfortunately, in order for the soreness to go away, the muscle fiber needs a chance to heal, and the rebuilding can take several days or longer. Joints also get achy and they can take longer to recover than muscles.

There are several things you can do to prevent muscle damage and soreness, top among them being to build up your training regimen gradually. It is also beneficial to stretch before and after workouts.

If you are sore after a run or other workout, ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation. Ice and heat are also good, because anything that increases blood flow to the muscles helps them heal. If you like hot tubs, hot baths, saunas, and massages, feel free to pamper yourself as all can be helpful.

Food is important to recovery as well. After a big run, your glycogen stores have been emptied out, which means your fuel gauge is closer to empty. Your body needs the raw materials, food, and time to put the structures back in order.

Think of it like owning a car, – the better you take care of it, the better the performance and longevity.

Brian Soo is a senior physical therapist at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center who works inpatient, outpatient, and in sports medicine.  A recreational runner for many years, Brian also bicycles, plays racquetball, and most importantly, paddles on a 20-person Dragon Boat team that competes internationally and practices three times a week. He also enjoys active video games and believes they can be an excellent complement to an overall fitness regime.