You might think that a good stretch is all you need to wake up tired legs after a run. Although static stretches can feel good and may make you feel less stiff, they're not a strategy to reduce soreness after a run, determined a review of research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2011. So, while post-run stretching won't make your gams giddy, other strategies including simple movement, baths and compression socks just might
Read More: How to Relieve Sore Leg Muscles
Take a Walk
Your first instinct might be to collapse in a puddle on the couch, but movement is healing to tired legs. A walk gets your blood flowing and begins the process of tissue repair. The walk is especially valuable if you've just finished a long race, or training run, such as a marathon, but, it's also a good strategy on days between hard runs.
If your legs are extraordinarily tired, the walk might last just a few minutes and happen multiple times per day. If you're up for it, you'll further benefit from a 30- to 45-minute walk. Don't worry about pace, just move.
Soak in a Bath
A plain old warm bath is valuable, but toss in 2 cups of epsom salts for some real rejuvenation. These salts are composed of magnesium and sulfate, which soothe muscle pain and decrease swelling. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes to refresh your legs.
If you want something a little more eye-opening, try an ice bath. Load up a lot of ice cubes into your tub and douse with cold water. Get in for several minutes. While research on the effectiveness of ice baths is inconclusive, many athletes find them indispensable when it comes to recovery.
They come in bright colors that may not match your post-run outfit, but compression socks serve a purpose in recovery. These tight, below-the-knee sleeves or socks support your veins and improve circulation.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that wearing the socks for 48 hours after a marathon improved functional recovery in athletes. A review of research published in Sports Medicine in 2016 further confirmed that compression gear worn during and after runs can reduce muscle pain and damage as well as mitigate inflammation. As a result, your legs will feel less fatigued.
An Ounce of Prevention
Hydrate adequately before, during and after your run. Have 16 to 20 ounces of fluids in the hour or two before you head out, and drink 7 to 10 ounces every 20 minutes or so you're running. After you run, have another 8 to 16 ounces.
Make sure your shoes aren't worn out — most models last about 400 miles. Additionally, invest in a pair of quality running shoes that fit your stride; running in the wrong model for your arches can make your legs work extra hard, fatigue them early and set you up for injury.
Fuel for your run to keep your glycogen stores full and ward off tiredness. A snack prior to running that contains carbohydrates and a little protein — such as a piece of toast with peanut butter — means you won't exhaust your system.
Also, refuel after a run with electrolytes, which can be found in sports drinks, and a snack containing 20 grams of protein and some carbs. These strategies start the process of muscle healing.