We’ve all be there, haven’t we? We’ve get pumped up for a run and we set out to achieve a certain goal but somewhere along the way, we encounter a bit of a setback because of a calf cramp while running or because of sore muscles from running for too long. This is in no way an uncommon scenario and happens often, specially if you may not have an idea of how these injuries can be prevented.
What are the causes of running injuries?
Overloading due to constant repetition of the running action
Lack of recovery
Why is muscle recovery important?
Recovery allows for improved performance and allows our bodies to heal itself in preparation for the next training load.
Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.
It serves as a viable treatment for any sort of common leg pain for runners or after running
The best part is that, recovery is also easy as there are many varieties of home remedies for sore calf muscles
What are the steps you can take to prevent common leg injuries from running?
California based running coach, Jenni Nettik, recommends the following exercises before a run in order to prevent common running foot injuries (1):
Glute Bridge (30 seconds)
Monster Walk (10 steps to each side and 10 steps backward)
Leg Lifts (5 to 10 reps per side)
In addition to the above, functional strength exercises are also a good way to build strength and endurance for running injury prevention and below are a few exercises you can do:
How to help legs recover faster?
A massage not only aids in muscle recovery but also improves blood flow and prevents your muscles from tightening. A massage may be conducted by a specialist or a physical therapist, but it can also be done in the comfort of your own home using a foam roller. This can increases blood flow to the tissues and can help smoothen the knots in the muscles which cause pain. Australian massage specialists cite that a message helps to reduce soreness by up to 30% which is a real bonus for those who love massages!
R.I.C.E (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation)
Rest/Sleep: Rest is an easy and powerful way to prevent common calf injuries from running. It helps the regenerative process allowing your muscles to restore and rebuild themselves. According to scientists, a muscle rebuilding chemical known as the Human Growth Hormone is produced and activated during the process and it is said that a minimum of seven hours of rest will do the job of restoration from the day.
Ice: Icing muscles aids in the decrease of pain and inflammation in areas that have been overworked during exercise. It also reduces the chances of your muscles spasming or cramping during your next workout. Icing the affected area for 20 minutes at a time at 2 hour intervals will help combat the effects of overworked muscles.
Compression: SPRYNG™ is an affordable, untethered, pneumatic compression wrap that functions as a muscle recovery tool that helps improve circulation and athletic performance. It uses pneumatic compression. The patent pending wavetec™ compression pattern combines three distinctive massage techniques - pulsing compression, gradients, and distal release to mimic your calf muscle pump.
Elevation: Elevating your affected legs above the heart aids the decrease of swelling and inflammation as it decreases the pressure on the veins in your legs and improves the blood flow to the rest of the body.
Nutrition and Fluids
Keep the Carb Fuel Gauge high!
Consuming sports drink throughout the run will keep muscles well supplied with their preferred carbohydrate fuel and preserve your muscle glycogen stores longer, delaying the point at which the muscles begin to rely on their own proteins for fuel.
Protein, Before & After
Another way to reduce muscle damage during runs is consuming some protein or amino acids. A little pre-run protein increases blood amino acid levels during the run, which appears to serve as a kind of biochemical signal that tells the muscles not to break down protein for fuel.
Replenishment of Carbs & Proteins
After running, especially a long run, you want to replenish energy as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness.
If you feel like you can't stomach solid food immediately after a run, try drinking chocolate milk. It provides protein, carbohydrates, and B vitamins, making it a great recovery drink.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
Muscle cramps are often associated with dehydration. This is why it's important that you make sure you're hydrating properly before, during, and after your runs. Prior to an hour before your run try to drink 16 to 24 ounces of water or other non-caffeinated fluid. To make sure you're hydrated before you start running, you can drink another 4 to 8 ounces right before you start. During runs, the general rule of thumb is consuming 6 to 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes during your runs. DON’T forget to rehydrate with water or a sports drink after your run as well.
In closing and with you’ve read above, we understand that while injuries when running are a common occurrence, there are methods and various ways to circumvent them and even prevent them from taking place altogether. The important thing to remember is to always adequately prepare for the run ahead and be sure to also adequately recover after a run so that injuries the next time around don’t happen at all.