Published on September 24, 2023
Running is fantastic for the mind and body, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a little aching and pain from time to time. To have a positive experience from running, it’s important to understand how to manage the pain. Here are eight things you need to know.
Not All Muscle Pain is the Same
There are two different types of muscle soreness associated with running: acute and delayed onset. Acute soreness happens immediately after you exercise, and it often improves as your body becomes used to the action. On the other hand, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle, and it takes around 24-72 hours for the pain to reach its peak.
Your Shoes Make a Huge Difference
Aside from muscle soreness, runners with poor-quality shoes can feel pain in their feet ranging from blisters to aching. To avoid facing issues with your feet, spend time researching the best running shoes, and don’t be afraid to splash some cash on a premium shoe. If you push through this type of pain, you can cause lasting damage.
Heat and Cold Therapy Relieves Pain
Heat and cold therapy both have the power to relieve pain, but they both work in different ways. Heat increases blood flow to provide nutrients to a certain area of the body, whereas cold treatments slow the blood down to reduce pain and swelling.
The best time to use heat treatments is immediately after exercising, and this can involve applying a compress, jumping in a warm shower, or making use of a steam room. If you’re still aching after 24 hours, then start using cold treatments including ice baths, cold showers, and frozen compresses.
Anti-inflammatory Foods are Beneficial
Even though research is a little slim on the matter, there are a number of papers proving the relationship between eating foods high in antioxidants and muscle soreness relief. For example, watermelon has a high concentration of L-citrulline, which is an amino acid that calms down the heart rate and alleviates muscle pain. As well as watermelon, you can add ginger, pineapple, and cherry juice to your diet.
NSAIDs Aren’t That Effective
Some people use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help with muscle soreness, but there are mixed results and some complications. For example, it’s relatively unclear whether NSAIDs target soreness directly, despite the name. Additionally, it’s been proven that NSAIDs have the potential to increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Bathing in Epsom Salts May Offer Relief
When Epsom salts are dissolved in a bath, they break down into sulfate and magnesium, which are absorbed by the body when you soak in the tub. Research suggests these components reduce pain and swelling, relax the muscles, and can help with various conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. As a bonus with Epsom salt baths, you benefit from a healthy dose of heat therapy.
More Exercise Can Help
If you’re already aching from running, your mind is likely telling you to stop until the aching subsides. However, some aching is a natural part of getting used to certain movements. The more you carry out an action, the less aching you’ll have – unless you increase the intensity of the action.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Get your body ready for running by performing stretches beforehand, but make sure you work on relevant muscles. When you get to the end of a run, spend time jogging and then walking to bring the body back into a more stable position.
Running and other forms of exercise can lead to aches and pains, which is why you need to recognize the different types and have strategies to manage them.