Fedhealth Dream Chasers dietician, Andrea du Plessis, shares diet and lifestyle tips to manage muscle pain after running.


Please note these tips and recommendations specifically address the pain caused by an intensive workout and are NOT recommendations for acute muscle tears, chronic muscle injuries, ligament or joint injuries, or muscle cramps.


Did you know?

Muscle pain after running is normal and in fact, plays an important role in the process of muscle conditioning. The pain after a hard training session is most often caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. This muscle damage is much needed for the muscle tissue to adapt and grow stronger, for improved running fitness and strength.


Try these tips for your next hard run, to help reduce your post-run muscle pain:



#1 Hydration

Dehydration after running is known to aggravate muscle damage and delay recovery. Damaged muscle fibres rely on fluids to bring elements of recovery and to eliminate the waste products and debris from the muscle tissues. The best way to rehydrate is by taking 500ml of a rehydration formula, or a sports drink with electrolytes, within 10-15 minutes after the exercise session.


#2 Supplements:

Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients required for running. High intensity exercise is known to cause losses of magnesium, which may increase inflammatory stress in the body. It then comes as no surprise that magnesium supplementation is recommended before, sometimes during and after exercise, not only to support the muscles during high intensity and endurance exercise, but also to replenish exercise-induced losses. Recent research also shows that magnesium may have anti-inflammatory effects, which further supports the role of magnesium supplementation to help manage muscle pain.


Arnica: Homeopathic Arnica D30 tablets taken before, during and after a long run may reduce muscle soreness after the run, most probably due to the anti-inflammatory effects of arnica.



#3 Ice bath

An ice bath is the simplest short-term relief for sore muscles after running. For best results, try to sit in cold water at about 15°C for 10-15 minutes. This process is known to reduce the painful swelling inside the muscle tissues, while speeding up the recovery process through improved circulation.


#4 Whey protein

Taking whey protein can reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle recovery, notably if taken within 30 minutes after exercise. Whey protein is a fast digesting dairy protein rich in branched chain amino acids (BCAA) such as leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids are needed for the recovery of overworked muscles, which rapidly absorb these nutrients to facilitate repair after exercise.



#5 Stretch… after run only!

Exercise science has shown us that stretching adds most value if done after your workout. After a high intensity running session, about 10 minutes of stretching is recommended, with a focus on the muscle groups most affected: calves, quads, hamstrings. It may be wise to stretch your hips and glutes as well, but for best results, consult a biokineticist to show you how to stretch properly and how to make best use of that feared foam roller. Remember, safety first!


#6 Soothing Epsom salts soak

After your high intensity training session, or before you go to bed, soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts will help bring relief from sore muscles. A good soak of 15 minutes is recommended, as this will help with the removal of metabolic by-products or “toxins” in the muscles.


For more information, visit capetownmarathon.com or for any nutrition related questions, contact Andrea du Plessis on 084 403 6018, email andreaduplessis28@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/andreaduplessis.nutrition.expert


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.