When you’re a runner, you know the absolute agony of what it feels like after a marathon, or even half a marathon. However much you train, and however much you are ready, you’re always going to push yourself that much harder because you’re competing, and by the end of the race it’s not uncommon to take your shoes off and see that your toes are bleeding… among other things like chafing and an irresistible urge to lie down forever.
The intense strain that running puts on your body is unlike any other, and it is because of this that you need to not only take precautions before, but also after the race to ensure that you do not experience next-level DOMS, and that you will be able to function (hopefully) the next day.
Static stretching, although not widely recognised as the sort of stretching you should be doing when prepping to run, is one of the best ways to care for your muscles after they’ve been put under intense strain. And this is not only for runners, but many other forms of cardio such as cycling and swimming.
Here are a few essential stretches you should do after every race, or, in fact, time you run.
When standing, place your right leg just in front of the other, with your hands on your hips. Keeping your right leg straight, bend your left leg. Bend towards your right leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Stand with both feet at angle, positioned on a step. Hang your right foot off the step and then lower it down, feeling the stretch in your calf. Repeat with your left foot and remember to hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on your right knee, with your left foot flat on the floor, and left knee bent at 90 degrees. Press lightly forward to feel a stretch at the top of your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, 3–5 times, and then repeat on the other side.
Standing and stabilising yourself on a wall, grab your right ankle and pull it back, feeling the stretch up into your thigh. Make sure that you are standing straight throughout the hold. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat with other leg.
Lower Back Stretch
Lie on your back with both feet flat. Pull your right knee to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for up to 15 seconds and repeat with the left leg. Then pull both knees to your chest and hold for up to 15 seconds.
The next day, and additional tips!
Practice active recovery
What this is, is exactly how it sounds. You may not be ready for another intense session, but staying static will do more harm than good. You should make sure that the next day you at least go out for a light jog, or even a walk in the park with your pets so that your muscles remain in motion and stay warm.
A post-workout whey protein shake is a good option following a race, and you can make it even better by adding berries, nuts, banana and anything else healthy to make a smoothie that will kickstart your recovery. You need to ensure that your body receives the nutrients it requires to use as fuel to burn and to spread it out throughout your body.
Take a long bath
After your run, there’s no shame in taking it easy during the day. Thermotherapy has been shown to have a positive effect on the recovery of your muscles, and so taking a long, hot bath after your race to keep your muscles warm will also relax you and release tension.
Include a foam roller into your workout
Foam rollers have been proven to reduce the impact of DOMS. They are great for relieving tension in your muscles and removing all those kinks and pockets of stress. Foam rolling post-run will help you to recover quicker, so you can get back on the road sooner than later.