Experienced runners know pain is inevitable, a normal part of the exercise and recovery process. The act of running itself breaks down muscle. During rest, the muscle is repaired and becomes stronger. This process can be uncomfortable, but the ability to tell the difference between this normal pain and injury is very important. Injury requires rest. For normal pain, there are ways to reduce it after a run.
Create and follow a well-thought out running plan in order to prevent overuse injury. Set realistic goals and build up to them gradually. A good rule of thumb is to increase the distance and intensity by no more than 10 percent per week.
Follow proper technique. Reducing the force exerted on the foot upon impact with the ground is key. Technique varies according to running speed and individual anatomical characteristics. If necessary, find a running coach in your area for assistance.
Warm up before intense running. The warmup can involve any activity that gradually increases body temperature, including walking, light jogging and dynamic stretching.
Wear compression stockings to help reduce inflammation during and after running. Compression socks have gained in popularity over the years for good reason: They work! By compressing the lower legs, blood flow from the area increases, allowing for a faster recovery process.
Elevate the legs after your run. Use an object while sitting or lie on the ground placing the legs up a wall. Ensure the legs are above heart level. Hold this position for 10 to 15 minutes. This will aid in circulation and speed up recovery.
Ice the area that hurts. Grab an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables and hold it on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes. The cold numbs the area and constricts the blood vessels, helping speed up recovery.
Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, as a last resort. These include aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. If the pain is so much that NSAIDs are necessary, it might be time to consider taking time off running.
- "Sports Medicine"; Epidemiology and Aetiology of Marathon Running Injuries; Michael Fredericson, et al.; 2007
- "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise"; Evaluation of Lower Extremity Overuse Injury Potential in Runners; Alan Hreljac, et al.; September 2000
- "Journal of Sports Sciences"' Graduated Compression Stockings: Physiological and Perceptual Responses During and After Exercise; A. Ali, et al.; January 2007