Running is an intense exercise and can be hard on your legs. That's why having tired, or sore, legs after running is not uncommon. There are various and multiple causes for tired legs. Old running shoes, running on surfaces that are too hard, over-training, poor hydration and improper nutrition can all contribute to your legs feeling tired and heavy after running. Luckily, there are almost as many effective treatments for tired legs as there are causes. Consult your doctor if pain in your legs persists or worsens.
Food and Water
To avoid tired legs after running, marathon legend Bill Rodgers recommends you make sure you're properly hydrated and have consumed enough nutrients before you run. "This problem may be solved by drinking a good amount of your favorite sports drink/fruit juice and eating some easily digested food like graham crackers, fig newtons, toast or cereal," Rodgers writes in "Running Times" magazine. Rodgers also mentions that it's not unusual to have sore legs after a particularly long or fast run.
Soaking your legs in an ice bath after you run can help revive tired legs. The cold eases swelling by helping to repair micro-tears in capillaries than occur from running and which cause stiffness and pain. Writing in "Running Times," Stephen Mirarchi recommends you add enough ice to chill the water in your bathtub to between 54 and 60 degrees F, then soak for eight to 10 minutes to effectively chill out your tired muscles.
Massage is a particularly effective treatment for sore legs after running. Deep-tissue massage increases blood flow to sore muscles and removes waste products, such as lactic acid, from muscles. Massage also opens the pores in muscle tissues, breaking up scar tissue and freeing accumulated waste products from the muscles while allowing water and nutrients to enter the cells, hastening recovery. If you can't get to a massage therapist, or can't afford to, there are many products available for self-massage so you can relax and sooth your tired leg muscles at your own convenience.
One of the most tried and true methods for treating tired legs is RICE. Not the long-grain stuff, but rest, ice, compression and elevation for your legs. As runner Chris Barber writes for the SeriousRunning website, it's cheap, easy and it works:
Rest: Take a day, or two, off from running.
Ice: Soak in an ice bath or just rub ice on your legs to cool them down.
Compression: Compression socks and sleeves send blood that would normally pool in your muscles, making them sore, back toward your heart for improved circulation.
Elevation: Raising your legs above your heart will improve leg circulation, flushing out waste and making legs feel rejuvenated.
After your run, instead of getting on with your day, take a few minutes to stretch your tired legs. Stretching is essential after running to avoid injury, prevent cramping and speed recovery. Head-to-Knee pose in yoga stretches one leg at a time. Sit on the ground and extend your left leg in front of you. Bend your right knee and place the bottom of your right foot against your upper left thigh. Let the outside of your right leg lie on the ground. Flex your left foot and reach your hands toward your left foot. If you can't grasp the toes of your left foot, hold onto the lower part of your left leg. Stay in this position for up to one minute and then switch sides.