Preventing common overuse injuries is often more about the measures that you take when you're not running, than the things that you do when you are. In fact, there's a lot of crucial time before and after workout sessions when you should be focusing on finding the best ways to take care of your muscles, joints, and your body overall.
If you're not using some of the following methods around your workout routine, then you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to say farewell to common overuse injuries, stay healthy, and reach more goals.
Compress the Pain Away
If you haven't already heard about some of the most common benefits of compression gear, then you're late to the party. Compression sleeves help to enhance recovery by increasing the circulation in your lower legs, delivering nutrient-rich blood to painful muscles, and lubricating achy joints. While you're running, your legs are probably getting plenty of blood already - but at rest, compression sleeves help more than you might think.
Research indicates that compression socks increase heart-rate recovery and reduce lactic acid after high-intensity running. The best time to use these accessories is when you know you're going to need extra help with your recovery. Sleeves can help to boost the blood flow in your lower leg when it might otherwise begin to pool in your extremities - such as during long periods of stillness. Another great time to use compression is just before a race, as the sleeves can help your legs feel more supported so you're ready to race at your best.
Indulge with Massage
Tightness and muscle soreness after a long workout or run are common, and they may even be a sign that you've done a good job. However, it's also helpful to reduce the amount of discomfort you feel with either a professional or self-conducted massage session. The scientific term for this concept is "myofascial release", and it helps to promote healing blood circulation, loosen tight muscles, and break up soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.
If you have any specifically painful trigger points in your legs after a workout, you might find that a massage helps to relieve some of your discomfort and prevents some of the most common overuse injuries from getting worse.
Fuel Up After a Run
After a rough workout or a long run, your body isn't just craving an opportunity to collapse into a comfortable heap - it also needs the right combination of nutrients and calories. There's a window of about thirty minutes after your workout where your body will be super receptive to all the nutrients, proteins and carbs in your post-workout meal. Make sure that you have something ready to eat during this time if you want to prevent common overuse injuries.
Generally, the best options are easy and healthy snacks, like protein bars or supplements, a quick shake, or a piece of fruit - like a banana.
Finally, remember that your body needs rest to recover, and sleep is one of the best friends of any runner. If you've ever gone to bed hours later than you intended just because you're watching a movie or binging on Netflix, the chances are you ended up regretting it. The reason for this is that your body repairs itself best during sleep - rebuilding your muscles, replenishing your energy supplies, and recovering. If you don't sleep properly, you can't expect to perform at your best, either.