Recovery Tips for Long Distance Runners
At Tuck Chiropractic, we try to help patients discover the value in everyday exercise, as it’s commonly considered natural medicine for the body. In fact, there’s a global organization centered around the idea of it. While everybody requires a different set of strengthening and aerobic exercises, running is consistently one of the best ways to achieve overall health.
Running provides a sense of euphoria known as the “runner’s high”, it improves brain cognition, decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and builds an overall core strength in your musculoskeletal system to keep your body feeling fit. Running has such a great effect on the body and mind, some people find it almost addictive. Just ask the Blue Ridge Marathon Runners that will be flooding the streets of the Roanoke Valley on April 21. They’ll also tell you about the toll that running 26 miles on asphalt can take on the body.
Preparing for the Long Haul
The best way to plan for a speedy recovery is to plan ahead for your preparation. It’s not easy to work up to a 26-mile run, but it’s not impossible either! Doctors LaBarbera, Skinner, and Keene have great insight into the process, as they’ve all taken the Blue Ridge Challenge before.
The key is keeping up with a strict training schedule to make sure that your body is ready for the challenge. Part of this is eating the right foods, drinking enough water, and making sure your body is in alignment. Staying hydrated will keep up your stamina and protect your joints from the impact of a road run. Building up on carbs before a race will provide a great resource for the extra energy you’ll need to pull through. Finally, making sure you’re properly aligned from head to toe may reduce the pain you may feel during or after the race.
Embracing the Aftermath
Running a marathon or any long distance race is a huge accomplishment and certainly something to be celebrated. But before you run off celebrating, you’ll want to take care of your body and replenish yourself to prevent any lasting pain or injury.
Muscle soreness and fatigue is one of the most common issues a runner will have to overcome in the aftermath. Studies show this kind of intense activity can have a lasting effect for up to 14 days. It’s important to take steps to reduce inflammation and rebuilt muscle fiber. To do this, you’ll want to start taking care of replenishing your body the moment you cross the finish line. This includes keeping warm so that your muscles don’t cramp up and eating nutritious foods like bananas, chocolate milk, or protein bars to replenish and rebuild. After you’re refueled, you may want to consider an ice bath. An ice bath will constrict your blood vessels and reduce swelling, preventing your muscles from suffering from long-term inflammation.
It’s also important to seek medical assistance in making sure your body adjusts to the “come down”. During such strenuous activity, your body is likely to knock itself out of alignment because no matter how hard you train, one side of your body will always be a little bit stronger than the other. Sports chiropractors are trained in using their knowledge of the musculoskeletal system to relieve pressure on your knees, lower back, and feet and realign your body back to normal order after a long distance run.
Finally, take a break! You and your body worked hard for this accomplishment and deserve the time off. RunnersConnect.net suggest taking 1-3 days off to fully recover. During this time you can treat your body to plenty of replenishing foods, hot baths, and stretch. Then, you can slowly start getting back into the swing of things. Cross-training is a great way to get your blood flowing so your muscles can start rebuilding themselves without strain. After a week or two, you can pick back up on the running.
Whether you’re running a local 5k or America’s Toughest Road Marathon, these little ways of taking care of your body after a long distance run are the best way to prevent long-term damage and keep you doing the exercise you love.
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