If you're a professional athlete, chances are you've come across the term running economy when re...
If you're a professional athlete, chances are you've come across the term running economy when referring to pacing and speed required for a race. Especially for long-distance runners and other endurance athletes, running economy is considered to be an important measure of their physiology.
Want to know more?
Learn more about how Spryng can help you!
Subscribe for the latest updates and get 10% OFF.
What is running economy?
In short, running economy measures the oxygen levels required for your body to run at a particular pace. The physiology of each individual is different. Each runner has their own volume of oxygen or VO2 that's flowing through their body. Ultimately it comes down to how economical each runner is with the usage of the oxygen in their systems.
For instance, if two runners are maintaining the same speed, there is a likelihood that one will be using less or more oxygen than the other. Those that use lesser oxygen are considered to have a better running economy. In order to achieve optimal running cadence, athletes have to improve their overall running economy.
How to improve running economy?
To improve your running economy, you have to be able to run with less effort. Your speed, power and technique are all involved in determining your running economy. By getting stronger with the use of strength training exercises and working on your running form to improve your running technique, you can hope to increase your running mileage.
The stronger your muscles are, they would require less energy to provide you with the needed force, and they can sustain that pace for a lot longer.
You can find out more information on improving your muscle strength for efficient running here.
Similar to strength training, long-distance runners need to work on their running technique. The smoother you run, the less oxygen you use up, and the less oxygen you use, you can improve your running efficiency.
Find out more about how to improve your running technique here.
What are the factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners?
Flexibility of their joints
While being flexible is considered an important factor in reducing the risk of injury, for long-distance runners, it is suggested that a moderate level of flexibility is preferred as opposed to high flexibility. This is so because stiffer joints require less muscle force to stabilize them, leading to better foot strike and push-off that increases their running economy.
Shape of the body
Runners with a smaller body frame are expected to use less oxygen. This may suggest why most elite athletes with a small frame are considered as some of the most economical runners.
Muscle fiber composition
The composition of an individual's muscle fibers is genetically determined as 'slow-twitch' or 'fast-twitch' fibers. It is suggested that those with slow-twitch fibers use less oxygen to sustain prolonged output, and as such, your muscle fiber composition may determine your running economy.
Resistance on the run
Your running economy may also vary based on your running conditions. For instance, an uphill slope or a surface with a lot of friction, such as muddy gravel, would require you to expend more energy to maintain that pace. Hence, it's essential for runners to assess their running conditions to determine how to increase their running efficiency.
All these factors affect your running economy, and they determine how fast you run and whether you can maintain that pace for a long distance.
Importance of leg recovery for runners
All distance runners undergo strenuous training to achieve their optimal performance. While factors such as running economy and VO2 max require due consideration when undergoing training, serious runners must pay attention to their leg recovery after a long run.
In addition to reducing running-related muscle soreness, symptoms of DOMs, and leg pain caused by the accumulation of lactic acids in your muscles, incorporating proper leg recovery measures can ensure you get the best out of your training.
Here are some of the best ways to recover from a run:
Warm down stretches - Ensure to thoroughly stretch out all your muscles after a running session in order to reduce muscle cramps and speed up your recovery process.
Use a muscle recovery tool - While you may use a foam roller to stretch out your muscles, SPRYNG compression wraps are some of the best tools for muscle recovery for runners. The portable and easy to use device helps increase oxygenated blood flow to your calves and legs, thereby relieving leg pain and soreness.
Draw a cold water bath after running - This is perfect for reducing sore muscles and speeding up leg recovery for runners as it helps to reduce muscle inflammation and flush out the built-up lactic acids.
If you're a runner that takes your sport seriously, the chances are that you've heard of periodiz...
If you're a runner that takes your sport seriously, the chances are that you've heard of periodization before. Simply put, periodization is the systemic planning of training undergone by athletes. Putting together a running training plan requires experimentation with different training sessions and knowing how your body works and how to provide it with the rest it needs after a workout.
Additionally, it's important to know how to achieve the best results as you work out daily. This guide will walk you through the basics of a training periodization to help runners like yourself improve your speed and performance.
What is Running Periodization?
Periodization for runners is a concept that has been around for decades, and is highly popular with runners and sprinters. Periodized training[i] is the process of breaking up your training into different phases, each with a specific training goal. For instance, you might decide that you are going to train hard for three weeks and then rest for a four-week period to increase endurance, followed by your next phase focused on speed development. Hence it is the systematic approach to running and training that teaches your body to change and adapt through exercise, building endurance, strength, speed and mobility over a defined period of time.
Periodization involves breaking down an athlete's training into specific time blocks or periods. During each of these periods, the athlete may be expected to run approximately 5 miles per day while focusing solely on improving their running technique.
Want to know more?
Learn more about how Spryng can help you!
Subscribe for the latest updates and get 10% OFF.
Components of a Running Training Plan
While there are several types of periodization techniques that are tailored to the specific running goals, we shall look into the traditional method, better known as linear periodization[ii]. This is where you have up to 6 months to train for a specific race that enables you to conduct volume training focusing on mileage and endurance, and towards the latter part of the training plan, you can bring in the high-intensity workouts.
Linear periodization is excellent for beginners that wish to build a strong foundation for their fitness, and it is commonly used across most forms of athletic training.
Two main components make up your running periodization plan. They are cycles and phases[iii].
1. Periodization Cycles
Cycles are considered the main building blocks of training around which you organize your running plan. The time frame for each cycle differs depending on the goal of the training plan.
The most common cycle timeframes are referred to as macrocycles, mesocycles and micro cycles. A macrocycle lasts from 6 months to a year, while a mesocycle lasts about one month, and a micro cycle generally comprises about one or two weeks of training.
2. Periodization Phases
Periodization phases are incorporated into a training plan in order to organize the structure of the running training cycle so as to schedule specific sessions that target particular skills that you intend to improve.
There are typically 5 main phases of periodization, which are commonly incorporated within running training plans.
Base phase or preparation phase - the main focus of this phase is to build endurance and mileage, and as such, it encompasses slow and easy training sessions at a consistent pace.
Specific phase or the build phase - centred around a particular goal such as speed, distance or strength; this phase is where the training gets focused towards the exact requirements of the race.
Pre-competition phase - the focal point of this phase is to achieve the peak speed and performance intended for your race. As such, you will be increasing the intensity while reducing the overall volume of training.
Competition phase - also referred to as the tapering phase, this is where you will reduce your training load to minimize the stressors of training. You are required to manipulate the intensity and volume of your workouts to achieve the right balance of rest, strength, skill and mindset training that will be necessary for your race.
Transition or recovery phase - whether it is to end your running season by slowing down and easing back into low mileage routines allowing your body to recover or to transition your form to prepare for another race, this is a crucial phase that shouldn't be ignored.
Recovery from Periodized Training
Runners need recovery from training, period. While you can ensure optimum running performance through carefully executed periodized training, incorporating proper recovery methods into your daily training routine is needed to reduce the risk of injury and help boost your performance.
Therefore, it's essential to integrate workout recovery methods into your routine. Whether it's engaging in some yoga to promote rest and relaxation or holding a hot or cold compress against your swollen leg muscles for some relief after the workout, there are simple techniques that can go a long way with your recovery. For instance, the use of a compression device like SPRYNG requires only 15 minutes of daily use to promote fast leg recovery by increasing the blood circulation in your sore leg muscles. Hence, it is a must to engage in some forms of post-training recovery methods in order to achieve the best outcome in your races.
Every runner knows that running gait is an important part of a good run. But not all runners actu...
Every runner knows that running gait is an important part of a good run. But not all runners actually know what this is. Improper running gait can affect almost all parts of your body, from your ankles to your knees and even to the soles of your feet.
Inappropriate running gait can cause overuse injuries and leg pain after running that can jeopardize your future workouts, so it's best to avoid this from happening altogether.
Luckily for you, learning about proper running gait will also improve the way you run, so let's dive in to find out more about it.
Want to know more?
Learn more about how Spryng can help you!
Subscribe for the latest updates and get 10% OFF.
What is Running Gait?
Running gait is essentially your running technique or your running form. Gait is defined as the pattern of limb movement while running and moving.
Your running stride is more than just putting one foot in front of the other. It includes your entire body movement and its interaction with the ground, air and gravity. When you run, several contact points are made between your body and the ground in a cyclic movement broken down into several phases of running.
Running is a cyclical process, which begins when you push off the ground with one foot, and ends when that same foot touches down. As humans, our gait patterns can be divided into 3 main phases of running:
The loading or the stance phase of running - it starts when your foot hits the ground with its initial contact and continues till the body moves over to carry the weight to the foot at the front.
The propulsion phase or the swing phase - as your body is propelled forward and the foot at the back lifts off the ground, until it touches down at the front is referred to as the swing phase.
Float phase - during the swing phase, there is a momentary sub-phase where neither foot is touching the ground, and this is referred to as the float stage.
Each of these phases are dependent upon one another. If one phase is poorly executed, the one's that follow would be equally inefficient, leading to more difficulty in gaining pace. The manner in which the interchange occurs between the stance and swing phases demonstrates your phases of the running gait cycle.
Why should you pay attention to your running gait?
If you're a serious runner that aims to get better at your performance, it's essential to conduct a running gait analysis in order to better understand your running form. It will allow you to break down the different components of movement, such as the stride length and the placement of foot contact, to better comprehend if any of these functions are executed poorly. For instance, in your stance phase, the primary point of contact with the ground should be towards the front of your foot and not the heel. If your point of contact is with the hind part of the foot, your running gait is poor and should be immediately corrected in order to prevent injuries the likes of runner’s knee, and experiencing leg pain after running.
Hence a thorough analysis of the running form would not only help correct common mistakes that can prevent injuries, but it can also help a runner achieve their optimal state by understanding the mechanics of running.
How to improve running gait?
Several measures can be taken to improve your running performance.
Wear proper running shoes. In addition to being a good fit, your running shoes should have adequate cushioning to absorb the force from your impact with the ground in order to prevent injuries and foot pain after running.
Using the running gait analysis, determine your current foot strike, which is the way your foot touches the ground as you run. Proper foot strike helps absorb the shock from the impact and determines how fast you can run.
While forefoot running is considered the best form with the least amount of impact and strain on your muscles, it should be aligned with your hip extension in order to prevent over-stride while running. If you're over-striding, that means you have exceeded your optimal stride, which leads to ineffective running.
Maintain your posture, as incorrect posture such as slouching makes your muscles overwork and strain themselves, resulting in poor running gait. So, ensure you hold your shoulders back in a relaxed position and look straight ahead with your chin up as you run. Do not bend forwards at the waist.
Practice deep breathing as this ensures more oxygen reaches your muscles resulting in optimum performance.
Tips for leg recovery after running
While proper running gait can go a long way in preventing injuries and muscle strains, all runners experience foot and leg pain after running from time to time. The following are some of the best leg recovery tips to follow after running in order to return to your form at the earliest.
1. Use compression gear
The SPRYNG active compression wraps help alleviate pain from your sore muscles by aiding blood circulation. The SPRYNG compression tool can reduce swelling caused by muscle strain enabling your body to recover faster.
2. Stretch properly after a run
Do not be in a rush to head home immediately after a run. Ensure to stretch out your muscles to enable the lactic acids that are built up to get flushed into the bloodstream.
Adequate hydration is required to replenish the fluids that are lost during the run. This would help prevent those awful leg cramps that happen at night after you've engaged in a long run.
4. Take a warm bath with Epsom salt
Taking a warm bath will not only help you relax, but the Epsom salt will help the body remove toxins built up in the muscles.
To find our more read our guide to long distance running recovery
How to Recover After a Marathon: Tips for Proper Marathon Recovery
If you've recently run a mara...
How to Recover After a Marathon: Tips for Proper Marathon Recovery
If you've recently run a marathon, congratulations! Running a marathon is a significant accomplishment, but it's important to take proper care of your body afterward to promote recovery and prevent injuries. In this blog post, we'll provide you with tips for how to recover after a marathon, including the benefits of active compression.
The Importance of Recovery
Marathon recovery is just as important as training for the marathon itself. Proper recovery helps your body to heal from the stress and strain of the race, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue, and helps to prevent injuries in the future. According to a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, marathon runners who take longer than two weeks to recover after a marathon are more likely to suffer from an injury in their next training cycle.
Immediate Post-Marathon Recovery
Immediately after finishing a marathon, you should take time to cool down and stretch. Take a slow walk to help bring your heart rate down, and stretch your legs, hips, and back. You should also rehydrate with water and electrolyte drinks, such as sports drinks. Rest and take a break from running for at least one to two weeks to allow your body to recover. Active compression, such as compression socks or sleeves, can help promote blood flow and reduce swelling in the legs and feet.
Nutrition for Recovery
Proper nutrition is an essential component of marathon recovery, as it can help support muscle repair and glycogen replenishment. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to nutrition for recovery:
Replenish Fluids: Hydration is critical for recovery, as your body loses a significant amount of fluids during a marathon. Drink plenty of water and fluids containing electrolytes to help replace lost fluids and minerals. Sports drinks or coconut water are good options as they contain sodium and potassium, which help replenish electrolytes.
Refuel with Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source during exercise, so it's important to replenish glycogen stores after a marathon. Aim to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal within 30 minutes of finishing the race. Good options include fruit, bagels, crackers, or pretzels.
Include Protein: Protein is crucial for muscle repair and recovery. It's recommended to consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, and this amount may need to be increased during the immediate post-marathon recovery period. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, and dairy products.
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods: The high-intensity exercise of a marathon can increase the production of free radicals, which can cause oxidative damage to cells. To combat this, include plenty of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet, such as berries, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
Consider Supplements: While a well-rounded diet should provide all the nutrients your body needs for recovery, some runners may benefit from supplements. For example, omega-3 supplements can help reduce inflammation and aid in muscle repair. Vitamin C and E can also have antioxidant benefits.
Active Recovery: Calf Compression Wraps
Active recovery is a crucial component of marathon recovery, and calf compression wraps are an effective tool for aiding in this process. These wraps apply gentle pressure to the calves, which can help increase blood flow and reduce muscle soreness and stiffness.
Here are some key benefits of using calf compression wraps during marathon recovery:
Improved circulation: The compression from the wraps can help increase blood flow to the calves, which can help flush out metabolic waste products and promote healing.
Reduced muscle soreness and stiffness: The gentle pressure from the wraps can help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness, making it easier to move and engage in other forms of active recovery.
Improved range of motion: By reducing muscle soreness and stiffness, calf compression wraps can also help improve range of motion and flexibility in the calves.
Enhanced recovery: By improving circulation and reducing muscle soreness and stiffness, calf compression wraps can enhance overall recovery and help you get back to your normal training routine more quickly.
When using calf compression wraps, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Start by wearing the wraps for short periods and gradually increase the duration as your body adapts. Use the wraps in conjunction with other active recovery methods, such as light stretching and low-impact exercise, for optimal results.
Overall, calf compression wraps are a valuable tool for aiding in marathon recovery. By incorporating these wraps into your recovery routine, you can help promote healing and get back to training more quickly and effectively.
Rest and Sleep
Rest and sleep are crucial for recovery after a marathon. Your body needs time to heal and recover, so it's essential to take time to rest and get enough sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and take naps during the day if needed.
During sleep, the body produces hormones that help repair and regenerate tissues that may have been damaged during the marathon. Inadequate rest and sleep can hinder the recovery process and increase the risk of injury.
Here are some tips for getting the rest and sleep you need during marathon recovery:
Prioritize rest: Allow yourself time to rest and recover after the marathon. This may mean taking a few days off from work, reducing your daily activities, and avoiding intense exercise or training during this time.
Create a sleep-friendly environment: Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. This may include minimizing noise and light, keeping the room cool and comfortable, and investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Stick to a sleep schedule: Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. This can help regulate your body's internal clock and promote restful sleep.
Limit caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep quality, so it's best to avoid these substances in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Practice relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and gentle stretching, can help calm the mind and promote restful sleep.
Consider sleep aids: If you're having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about sleep aids that may be appropriate for you. These may include over-the-counter medications, natural remedies, or prescription sleep aids.
Get a massage: Massage therapy can help reduce muscle soreness and tension, which can make it easier to relax and fall asleep.
By prioritizing rest and sleep, and incorporating these tips into your recovery routine, you can help promote healing and get back to your normal training routine more quickly and effectively.
Preventing Injuries and Illness
To prevent injuries and illness during marathon recovery, it's important to avoid overuse injuries by gradually returning to running and not pushing yourself too hard too soon. You should also avoid running when sick or if you're experiencing pain or discomfort. Active compression can also help prevent injuries by reducing muscle soreness and swelling.
Returning to Running
When you're ready to return to running after a marathon, it's important to do so gradually. Increase your mileage and intensity slowly, and listen to your body to avoid overuse injuries. Active compression, such as using compression socks or sleeves during your runs, can help reduce muscle soreness and promote blood flow.
Return to Strength Training Carefully
While rest and active recovery are crucial for marathon recovery, it's also important to slowly reintroduce strength training to your routine. Strength training can help prevent injury, improve performance, and support overall fitness. However, returning to strength training too soon or too aggressively can increase the risk of injury.
Here are some tips for safely returning to strength training after a marathon:
Wait at least 1-2 weeks: Give your body time to recover from the marathon before returning to strength training. This will help ensure that your body is sufficiently rested and healed.
Start with low-intensity exercises: Begin with light exercises that focus on the major muscle groups, such as bodyweight squats, lunges, and push-ups. Avoid exercises that place excessive stress on the joints, such as heavy lifting or high-impact exercises.
Gradually increase the intensity: Once you've mastered the basics, gradually increase the intensity of your strength training exercises. Add weights or resistance bands, and increase the number of sets and reps as your body adapts.
Listen to your body: Pay close attention to how your body feels during and after strength training. If you experience pain or discomfort, scale back your exercises or take a break.
Seek professional guidance: If you're new to strength training, consider working with a certified personal trainer or physical therapist. They can help you develop a safe and effective strength training program that is tailored to your fitness level and goals.
Post-Marathon Depression: Coping with Emotions After the Race
While the sense of accomplishment after completing a marathon can be incredible, many runners experience a letdown in the days and weeks that follow. This can be especially true for first-time marathoners, who may have invested months or even years of training and preparation into the race.
Post-marathon depression is a common experience and can manifest in a variety of ways, including:
Feeling irritable, restless, or anxious
Feeling a lack of motivation or energy
Struggling to sleep or experiencing changes in appetite
Feeling a sense of disappointment or sadness, even in the face of achieving a goal
Here are some strategies for coping with post-marathon depression:
Give yourself time to recover: Allow yourself time to rest and recover after the marathon. This may mean taking a break from running or other intense exercises and prioritizing self-care activities, such as yoga, massage, or spending time with loved ones.
Set new goals: While completing a marathon is a significant achievement, it's important to set new goals and focus on new challenges. This can help provide a sense of purpose and motivation after the race.
Connect with other runners: Talking to other runners who have experienced post-marathon depression can be helpful. Joining a local running club or online community can provide support and encouragement.
Seek professional help: If you are experiencing significant feelings of sadness or hopelessness, it may be helpful to seek professional help. This may include talking to a therapist or counselor or consulting with a physician about medication options.
Post-marathon depression is a common experience, but with time and self-care, it's possible to overcome these feelings and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation. Remember, completing a marathon is an incredible accomplishment, and it's important to celebrate your achievements and give yourself credit for the hard work and dedication that went into preparing for the race.
What are some ways to speed up marathon recovery?
Some ways to speed up marathon recovery include incorporating active recovery techniques like foam rolling, gentle stretching, and low-impact exercise, focusing on proper nutrition and hydration, getting adequate rest and sleep, and considering additional recovery methods like massage therapy or compression wraps.
How important is nutrition for marathon recovery?
Nutrition is essential for marathon recovery, as it provides the body with the necessary nutrients to repair and regenerate tissues that may have been damaged during the race. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, as well as hydrating properly, can help speed up the recovery process and reduce the risk of injury.
What is post-marathon depression, and how can it be managed?
Post-marathon depression is a common experience that many runners face after completing a race. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including feeling irritable or anxious, lacking motivation, struggling with sleep or appetite changes, and feeling a sense of disappointment or sadness. To manage post-marathon depression, it's important to prioritize rest and recovery, set new goals, connect with other runners for support, and consider seeking professional help if necessary.
How long does it take to recover after a marathon?
The amount of time it takes to recover after a marathon can vary depending on a number of factors, including your fitness level, training regimen, and the intensity of the race. Most experts recommend taking at least one to two weeks off from intense exercise, followed by a gradual return to training. However, it may take several weeks or even months to fully recover from a marathon, especially if you experienced an injury or significant muscle soreness.
What should you not do after a marathon?
After a marathon, it's important to give your body time to rest and recover. Avoid high-impact activities like running or jumping for at least a week after the race, and prioritize gentle exercise like walking, swimming, or yoga. Additionally, avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body, and skip the ice bath - studies have shown that ice baths may actually slow down the recovery process.
What happens to your body in the 48 hours after a marathon?
In the 48 hours after a marathon, your body undergoes a number of changes as it works to repair and recover from the stress of the race. You may experience muscle soreness, fatigue, and inflammation as your body repairs damaged tissues and flushes out metabolic waste. Additionally, your immune system may be temporarily compromised, which can make you more susceptible to illness or infection. It's important to prioritize rest and recovery during this time to help your body heal.
What does your body need after a marathon?
After a marathon, your body needs rest, hydration, and proper nutrition to recover. Be sure to drink plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids to replace fluids lost during the race, and eat a well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to help repair damaged tissues. Additionally, prioritizing sleep and relaxation can help reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process.
In conclusion, proper marathon recovery is essential for preventing injuries and improving performance in future races. Incorporating techniques such as active compression can help promote recovery and prevent injuries. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can help your body recover after a marathon and get back to running safely and effectively.
We hope this blog post has been helpful to you! Remember, proper recovery after a marathon is crucial for preventing injuries and improving your performance in future races. If you have any questions about marathon recovery or active compression, feel free to reach out to us!
We’ve all be there, haven’t we? We’ve get pumped up for a run and we set out to achieve a certain...
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
Learn more about the common causes of running injuries in here and taking care of your calves.
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.
Leg cramps; those painful and dreaded involuntary muscle contractions are a common occurrence in ...
Leg cramps; those painful and dreaded involuntary muscle contractions are a common occurrence in the lives of most athletes, especially runners. Frequent experience of calf pain and sore muscles while running can hinder your training and overall performance. If you constantly experience leg pain from running or those sore and cramping calves are getting in the way of your training, you can utilize some of these helpful tips that can prevent leg pain and treat your sore muscles that result from running.
What causes muscle soreness from running?
Muscle soreness from running, generally sets in about 24 to 48 hours after strenuous exercise. This condition, referred to as DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, can affect different regions of your body in different capacities. Symptoms of DOMS such as stiff calf muscles and foot pain, to overall muscle soreness within the body due to running, usually go away on their own after a few days but there are a few things you can do to help reduce your muscle soreness after running.
What causes sore calves after/while running?
The most common form of muscle soreness experienced by runners is calf pain. You are bound to be well versed in sore and cramping calf muscles if you have been running for a while. Maybe you have already tried every piece of advice available to you but to no avail.
You’ve been told to eat bananas to ensure the required potassium and magnesium intake is met. You were told to take additional salt to balance the loss of sodium through excessive sweating. Yet nothing seems to have worked to alleviate the leg pain and calf cramps while running nor the excruciating muscle pain and leg soreness that sets in after a run.
You wonder why this keeps happening to you. Why do your calves cramp up and hurt while running? And what might possibly be its cause?
Cramps vary in their severity and the cause of cramping can differ based on individual strength, training style and muscle function.
Based on scientific research the two most common causes of sore calves and cramping from running are muscle fatigue and loss of electrolytes together with dehydration. Let us examine these conditions in a bit more detail.
Muscle fatigue can occur due to various reasons. For instance, if your muscles are being overused and pushed to beyond their capability, they can easily get overloaded. This may occur if you are running in unfamiliar environmental conditions or are increasing the intensity of your workouts at too fast a pace without allowing the necessary time for your muscles to fully recover. Repeated and extended use of a particular muscle group can result in muscle overloading and fatigue cramps as well as leg pain after a run.
According to research done by a professor of athletic training at Central Michigan University, Kevin D. Miller, PhD, the majority of runners that experienced cramping, did so during either the last segment of a long-distance run or after a race. His research proves that the longer the run and the more strenuous the run, the chances of experiencing muscle fatigue and as a result muscle cramping is far higher for a runner.
Dehydration and loss of electrolytes
Electrolyte imbalance is common during extensive periods of sweating. Sodium and chlorides lost through sweat are not replenished instantly, resulting initially in sore calves and legs during running which leads to gradual onset cramping in your muscles. In addition, the underlying cause of electrolyte imbalance is dehydration as the lack of water prevents the muscles from absorbing the electrolytes it requires into the system.
How to avoid calf cramps while running?
While there is no hard and fast rule dictating the onset of muscle cramps, there are a few steps you can implement into your routine to prevent your legs from cramping during a run.
Condition your body
Muscle cramps are not as common among athletes who have properly conditioned their bodies for extended periods of physical training. Especially if you are taking up running after a break, it is important to start at a low-intensity training and gradually work your way up in order to prevent leg cramps while running.
While it is important to keep your body well hydrated, you must ensure to not overdo it. If you are doing long distance running and you expect to be on your feet for over an hour, it is good to calculate how much water your body loses during a session by weighing yourself before and after a run. It is recommended that you consume 20 ounces of water for every pound that is lost during a workout. You can avoid getting foot cramps from running by providing your body with adequate hydration throughout the day.
Replace lost electrolytes
As you sweat, you lose a considerable amount of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. You may want to consider the use of energy supplements prior to training or salt tabs to replenish those lost electrolytes in order to stop your calves from cramping during a run.
Compression devices help reduce the load on your calf muscles during the exercises and is good at preventing muscle fatigue. It increases the blood circulation in your legs and ensures that the blood is kept oxidized in that region, hence wearing it during your training sessions can decrease the risk of cramping on your calves and legs and help to avoid leg pain while running.
Always conduct a 5–10-minute stretch and warm-up prior to running to avoid muscle cramping. If you feel the onset of a leg cramp during running, do some gentle stretching of the muscle that is straining to provide some comfort. The muscle will remain tight even after the cramp has subsided so you should continue to stretch it out at intervals.
Calf Muscle Tear
Ignoring your calf muscle soreness and overusing it when it requires rest can lead to detrimental effects such as muscle strain and tears. If you experience lingering pain that spans several days or the kind of leg pain that is gradually getting worse as time passes, chances are that it is more than a sore or cramping muscle. If this is the case, you may have a calf muscle tear or a muscle strain in the respective region.
The recovery time for a torn calf muscle is dependent upon the severity of the injury. Calf muscle tears can be graded from I to III based on their severity as expressed below:
Grade I – you may experience sharp pain at the time of activity with a possible feeling of tightness with or without pain. This may be followed by mild discomfort and aching sensation post-training. While it is possible to continue the activity post a Grade I calf muscle tear, it is recommended that you rest your strained leg muscles for at least 10 days.
Grade II - Experiencing immediate sharp pain with inability to continue activity may just be symptoms of a Grade II calf muscle tear. You may witness some mild swelling or bruising in the region and it is recommended that you seek medical assistance to better understand the severity of your condition and the treatments that need to be taken.
Grade III – An injury of this scale can keep you off the tracks for about 6 months, which is the average recovery time from a Grade III tear of a calf muscle. It leads to severe pain with the inability to contract your calf muscle. There is bound to be bruising and swelling just hours after injury and you would be unable to continue the activity. You have to seek immediate medical attention if you are to experience these symptoms of torn calf muscles.
How to treat calf muscle soreness/calf cramps after running?
One of the main contributors to fatigued muscles is glycogen depletion. Your daily food intake must amount to a healthy and balanced diet that can replenish your body. Your diet should include sufficient carbohydrates to help replace your glycogen stores that were used up during the run, and it should entail adequate proteins that allow your body to repair and recover post-training. Providing these necessary nutrients will allow your body to recover faster and reduce the muscle soreness that occurs from running in the process.
Stretching after a run
Once your training has concluded, conduct at least 10 minutes of static stretching targeting your quads, hamstrings, calves and hips. Extend this to any other region that felt tight during your training to prevent delayed onset cramping. Stretching post training can help alleviate muscle soreness and prevent DOMS from occurring.
Try an ice bath
Immersing yourself in an ice bath post-training is known to speed up your recovery process and is the perfect relaxing home remedy for reducing leg pain from running. If a bath of ice feels a bit too much, at least try to have a cold-water shower and keep ice packs on sore areas for about 10 minutes to provide some relief. Keep in mind, icing the soreness away works only with the onset of a leg cramp. If your pain and soreness lasts for days after you train, you need to use heat packs instead in order to increase the blood flow in the region.
Practicing some gentle yoga is the ideal home remedy for leg pain as it provides an excellent form of relaxing your sore muscles after a strenuous run. The different poses allow you to stretch out your stiff muscles from running, and the breathing techniques encourage better blood circulation and oxygenation within your body.
Try a massage
If you have the time and the resources to do so, book yourself a sports massage through a professional that can provide great assistance in easing the pain from delayed onset muscle strain. An ideal treatment for leg pain, a massage can increase blood circulation and encourage leg recovery after a run.
Why Active Compression Tools are The Better Solution
The purpose of compression devices is to increase blood flow within the regions of the body that are strained from exertion, leading to fast recovery from sore muscles. The benefits of leg compression therapy and muscle recovery tools are plenty and they are ideal solutions for accelerating your recovery process.
SPRYNG active compression wraps are the better alternative for old-school compression socks. SPRYNG uses a dynamic wavetec pattern that aids blood circulation through the use of external pneumatic compression. This leads to increased oxygenation within the muscle tissues by releasing any lactic acids that are built up in your sore calf muscles leading to recovery from pain and stiffness in your legs.
Unlike other muscle recovery tools, SPRYNG offers you a compact, portable and stylish solution that is accessible to you anytime, anywhere and it offers fast and effective recovery for your sore leg muscles from running.