After the Broad Street Run, many of the runners clearly began a well-rehearsed plan for post-race recovery. You could see them continuing to walk or jog for a while, swap their sweaty running togs for dry clothes, and chug water. Others, though, seemed to have no plan at all, other than posing for selfies and heading off to the parking lot or the subway station.
If you want to optimize your performance and prevent injury, you need a plan. What are the best ways to recover from a race? And why is recovery is so important?
Here are eight tips from the experts at the MossRehab Running Clinic:
- Cool down immediately following the race. Stopping activity or movement can lead to a temporary drop in blood pressure that can cause athletes to collapse after a race. The cool-down allows the body to maintain blood pressure as it normalizes and reduces blood pooling in the extremities by returning blood properly to the organs. Give yourself 30 minutes for a cool-down to either walk or jog for about 10 to 20 minutes post-race.
- Stay active. Keep moving immediately after you finish to avoid blood pooling in your lower legs, which can cause soreness or more serious health risks. Avoid lying down when you cross the finish line and don’t sit for too long within the first 24 hours.
- Rehydrate. Hopefully you have been hydrating well during the race, but it is also important to continue rehydration after the race. Drink at least two to three cups of water within the first 30 minutes to help replenish the water that your body and muscles have lost.
- Refuel. Eat about two ounces of carbs with some protein within the first hour. Food is best absorbed in the first hour post-race. Plan to indulge in a healthy full meal two to three hours after you finish the race.
- Redress. Once you stop running, your body will cool off from all the heat that was generated during the race. Make sure to change into dry, comfortable clothes.
- Rejuvenate. Within the first 12 hours after the race, allow your body time to relax. Take a cool shower or run cool water on your legs. The cool water will constrict the blood vessels and prevent blood from pooling and swelling (after you cool down appropriately). Later in the day, once your body has appropriately cooled down, take a warm shower or bath.
- Pain management. Unless you’re training for another event right away, use anti-inflammatories to minimize post-race soreness.
- Rest. Make sure you allow for a good night’s sleep.
Whether you're a novice or a seasoned runner, the MossRehab running clinic can help you reach your highest level of performance. Make an appointment.
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