So, what are some things we can do to help our bodies recover after a run/workout?
Here are the things you can do that have been proven in research to help your body build back stronger tissues!
Things that work: The following are supported ways of building back stronger tissues, helping you recovery effectively.
Eat protein within 30 minutes of completing a workout: Include carbs if it was a hard workout like a speed session or a long run. Protein is important to build back the muscle tissue that was just broken down during your run.
Try to eat some protein every 3-4 hours: This helps with ongoing recovery throughout the day. Your body does not magically recover immediately after a run, so we want to be mindful of fueling out bodies well all day to help with long-term recovery.
Get some good quality sleep every night: Sleep is super important for both mental and physical recovery. The "right" amount of sleep is very individualized but tends to be between 7-9 hours a night.
Manage your stress: If we are stressed, the chemical response interferes with the recovery process.
Make sure you are doing your runs at the correct intensity: Doing them at a higher intensity (faster) leads to a greater load on the body which means your body will take longer to recovery. This is why runners feel more refreshed and are able to handle MORE volume when they slow down their easy and long runs. They also perform better during their speed training days they are going into the session feeling fresh.
Keep moving throughout the day! Going for walks or doing other movement is great for increasing blood flow to your muscles to get rid of waste products and deliver needed nutrients so they can build back stronger than ever.
Eat and hydrate during warm or long runs! Fueling and hydrating DURING the run decreases the amount of stress on the body. Stop doing your long runs and races without calories and appropriate hydration. This leads to a lot of stress and damage to the body, which will HINDER performance vs make your body stronger.
Things that might work: These are things to do if you think they help but there is not much research to support their effectiveness with helping runners recover faster or healthier. They are associated with FEELING better, but are not associated with changes in injury rates or performance measures.
Epson salt baths
Things to avoid doing: These things do not work.
Icing or ice baths
Compression systems that claim to remove lactic acid
Static stretching: I have a great blog on this topic if you want to read more
Please keep in mind that social media information is not regulated, so people can make whatever claims they want, whether they are true or not. This is a constant battle that medical providers are facing since most of the advertised "recovery tools" are just really smart marketing leading to people spending immense amounts of money and time on tools based on pseudo-science. If something advertises quick fixes or sounds too good to be true, it likely isn't true.