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How to Treat Sore Legs After Running

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
How to Treat Sore Legs After Running
Foam rolling can help relieve sore muscles. Photo Credit YekoPhotoStudio/iStock/Getty Images

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the proper name for soreness after a workout, and it sums everything up perfectly. After a run your legs might feel tired, but there usually isn't any soreness. The next morning when you wake up all of the stress you put on your muscles the previous day seems to hit you at once.

A particularly bad bout of DOMS can make it hard to walk down a set of stairs or sit on the toilet. There are a few things you can do, thankfully, to curb the discomfort from DOMS after your workout.

Cold Water Immersion

Cold baths aren't the most fun way to deal with your soreness but they do help, according to a 2008 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. You can run the cold water on your bath and hop in for five minutes to reduce swelling and pain in your muscles.

If you're really hardcore, you can throw some ice in your bath to make it colder. If you do that in the morning chances are you won't need a cup of coffee to wake up!

Contrast Water Therapy

If the torture of an ice bath isn't your thing, you can try contrast water therapy. By alternating between cold and hot water you can promote blood flow to your sore muscles, which helps speed up recovery and reduce pain.

The best way to do it is to use a shower head and turn the water up very hot for 30 seconds, then very cold for 30 seconds. Do this for three or four minutes.

Read More: The Treatment for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness


Nutritional supplements can give your body the boost that it needs to fight inflammation and pain so that you can walk around comfortably after your run.


Branched-chain amino acids are found in foods that contain protein. There are three of these BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They help you build muscle and recover from the day's workout. Drinking a serving during or after your workout can take away the pain that you might feel the day after your workout.

Carbs and Protein

Having a drink with a mixture of carbs and protein provides nutrients that help your muscles recover. The protein helps your muscles build back up and the carbs give them some energy.

The best time to drink your carb and protein mixture is after your run because there is still a lot of blood flowing through your muscles that can help deliver those precious nutrients.

20 minutes of Swedish Massage is enough to help soreness.
20 minutes of Swedish Massage is enough to help soreness. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Black Tea Extract

Black tea extract delivers a concentrated dose of the nutrients found in tea leaves to help you recover from your workout. The tea is naturally high in antioxidants, so taking a concentrated extract gives you more than enough to fight free radicals, one of the byproducts of exercise. The antioxidants fight free radicals and calm the swelling of your muscles down to relieve your pain after your run.

Citrulline Malate

Eight grams of citrulline malate in your drink after a workout is enough to curb muscle soreness in the coming days. Citrulline malate can be found in watermelon juice and in large quantities can help your body flush out ammonia and nitric oxide, making you less fatigued. In some cases, it can cause stomach discomfort, so taking it during a run might not be the best idea.

Foam Rolling

These small cylinders of foam are more sinister than they look, especially if you have sore muscles. Rolling your body over the foam roller on the front, sides and backs of your legs can be quite painful if your muscles are sore and sensitive.

Start with one 20-minute foam rolling session after your run. Then foam roll for another 20 minutes a day later, and 20 more minutes the day after that.

Read More: Foam Rollers for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness


To deal with your soreness you might need a helping hand, or two. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that 20 minutes of Swedish massage after a run was enough to slow down soreness for 24 hours after the run. This is also a great chance to relax and unwind after a busy day.


To prevent soreness after your run, make sure to go through a proper warm-up. Dynamic stretching of your quads and hamstrings through exercises like butt kicks and toe touches actually make the muscles warmer and more elastic. This elasticity helps them stretch when you run. If your muscles are too stiff the fibers are more likely to get damaged, which causes inflammation and soreness.

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