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Running Longevity: Optimizing Run Recovery

By Dr. Emily Schilling


Running is a demanding activity that places significant stress on the body. While the focus often lies on the miles covered and the pace achieved during a run, equally crucial is the attention given to post-run recovery. A comprehensive recovery routine not only accelerates muscle repair but also reduces the risk of injury, enhances overall well-being, and optimizes future performance. In this blog, we'll explore a diverse range of evidence-based recovery techniques, including red light therapy, dry needling, foam rolling, CBD cream, NormaTec boots, sleep, nutrition, hydration, and gentle exercise, all designed to aid in the restoration process after a run.


Red Light Therapy:

Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation, involves exposing the body to low-level wavelengths of red or near-infrared light. This therapy has been shown to promote tissue repair, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. Research published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine suggests that red light therapy can enhance muscle recovery and performance by stimulating mitochondrial function and accelerating cellular repair processes (1). Incorporating red light therapy into your post-run routine may help expedite muscle recovery and reduce post-exercise soreness.


Dry Needling:

Dry needling is a technique used by physical therapists to relieve muscle pain and improve mobility. It involves inserting thin needles into trigger points or tight bands within muscles to elicit a twitch response and release tension. A systematic review published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that dry needling can effectively reduce muscle pain and improve range of motion in individuals with musculoskeletal conditions (2). By targeting areas of muscle tightness or discomfort post-run, dry needling can aid in muscle relaxation and promote faster recovery.


CBD Cream:

CBD (cannabidiol) cream is gaining popularity among athletes for its potential therapeutic benefits, including pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. A study published in the European Journal of Pain found that topical CBD application significantly reduced pain and inflammation in animal models of arthritis (4). While further research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD cream on exercise recovery in humans, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may help alleviate post-run muscle soreness and discomfort.


NormaTec Boots:

NormaTec boots are compression devices designed to enhance circulation and accelerate recovery in the legs. By applying intermittent pneumatic compression to the limbs, NormaTec boots help flush out metabolic waste products and reduce swelling and inflammation. Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that compression therapy can improve muscle recovery and reduce perceived muscle soreness following exercise (5). Incorporating NormaTec boots into your post-run routine may aid in muscle recovery and promote faster recovery between training sessions.


Foam Rolling:

Foam rolling is a popular self-myofascial release technique that involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to tight or sore muscles. Research published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy suggests that foam rolling can enhance flexibility, improve range of motion, and reduce muscle soreness following exercise (3) depending on how it is utilized.


Gentle Exercise:

Engaging in gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, can help promote blood flow, reduce muscle stiffness, and enhance recovery without causing additional stress to the body. Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that low-intensity exercise can facilitate recovery by increasing blood flow to muscles and promoting the clearance of metabolic waste products (9). Incorporate low-impact activities into your post-run routine to aid in muscle recovery and promote overall well-being.


Nutrition:

Nutrition is a cornerstone of effective recovery, providing the essential nutrients needed to replenish glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and support immune function. Focus on consuming a balanced post-run meal or snack containing carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to optimize recovery. Research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that consuming a carbohydrate-protein supplement after endurance exercise can enhance muscle glycogen resynthesis and promote faster recovery (7).


Hydration:

Hydration is critical for maintaining fluid balance, regulating body temperature, and supporting cellular function during exercise and recovery. Aim to drink enough fluids throughout the day to stay adequately hydrated, and replenish fluids lost through sweat during exercise. Research published in the journal Nutrients suggests that proper hydration is essential for optimizing exercise performance and enhancing post-exercise recovery (8).


Sleep:

Sleep plays a critical role in the recovery process, allowing the body to repair and regenerate tissues damaged during exercise. Research published in the journal Sports Medicine suggests that adequate sleep duration and quality are essential for optimal athletic performance and recovery (6). Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support muscle repair, hormone regulation, and cognitive function.


Effective run recovery is essential for maximizing performance, reducing the risk of injury, and promoting overall well-being. By integrating evidence-based recovery techniques such as red light therapy, dry needling, foam rolling, CBD cream, NormaTec boots, sleep, nutrition, hydration, and gentle exercise into your post-run routine, you can accelerate muscle repair, alleviate soreness, and optimize recovery for future training sessions. Remember to listen to your body, prioritize rest and recovery, and tailor your recovery routine to meet your individual needs and goals. With a comprehensive approach to run recovery, you can enhance your running experience and achieve your full athletic potential.


References:


Hamblin, M. R. (2017). Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 49(5), 480-488.


Dunning, J. R., Butts, R., Mourad, F., & Young, I. (2014). Dry needling: a literature review with implications for clinical practice guidelines. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 44(3), 172-184.


Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015). The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: A systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), 827-838.


Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain‐related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, 20(6), 936-948.


Leeder, J., Gissane, C., van Someren, K., Gregson, W., & Howatson, G. (2012). Cold water immersion and recovery from strenuous exercise: a meta-analysis. Journal of Sports Science, 30(5), 415-424.


Fullagar, H. H., Duffield, R., Skorski, S., Coutts, A. J., Julian, R., & Meyer, T. (2015). Sleep and recovery in team sport


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