It is normal to develop some soreness anytime you use a muscle group vigorously or for a prolonged period. Soreness in your legs that develops immediately after running usually fades over the course of several hours. Muscle soreness that develops more than 24 hours after running is due to tiny tears in your muscle fibers. This condition is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. DOMS is normal and may take several days to improve with home treatment. Report any sudden or severe pain in your legs after running to your doctor.
Stop running or engaging in any other activity that works your leg muscles for at least one week. This gives your muscles time to heal. You can continue working other muscle groups, such as your back, shoulders and arms.
Soak your sore muscles in very warm water in the bath or a hot tub to ease your pain and reduce inflammation. Alternating hot and cold baths works especially well for some people.
Rub the affected muscles using moderate pressure to improve blood flow to the area. If you cannot reach your sore leg muscles, ask a friend to massage them.
Begin walking two to three days after you stop running and throughout the recovery period to maintain blood flow to the affected muscles. Engaging in light activity can hasten recovery and improve your range of motion.
Stretch after your walks and periodically throughout the recovery period. Stretching helps prevent inflammation and stiffness and can improve your mobility while your legs recover.
Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to decrease swelling and pain in your muscles.
Slowly change the frequency, intensity and duration of your runs to minimize sore legs. For instance, add 10 minutes to your run instead of 30 minutes or do five sprint intervals instead of 10.
If over-the-counter medications are not strong enough, or your soreness lasts more than a week, it's time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.