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I'm An Endurance Physical Therapist, And These Are The 5 Things I Do After A Long-Distance Run

I’m An Endurance Physical Therapist, And These Are The 5 Things I Do After A Long-Distance Run

by Andrew Cassidy, PT, DPTComments Off on I’m An Endurance Physical Therapist, And These Are The 5 Things I Do After A Long-Distance Run

Lace-up your shoes, go for a run, take off shoes, and end of the session. Sound familiar? If your run time follows this pattern, you are not alone. Most runners admit they give little attention to recovery and cooling off after a long run. However, if you want to improve performance or are prone to injuries, you are doing yourself a disservice by skipping these recovery methods. Use the methods below as a guide to facilitate improved running recovery on your next long run.

1. Cool Down Walk/Jog

Warm-ups and cool-downs tend to be pretty low on a runner’s priority list. Most of us squeeze in morning runs before the kids wake up or chase the sunlight hours after work. Understandably, we want to commit as much of this allotted running time for actual running. However, we do ourselves a disservice by not allowing our cardiovascular and muscular systems some time to ease out of running before changing to a physical task with much lower demand, i.e., commuting to work, eating dinner, or checking Instagram. A proper cool-down with low-intensity motion like walking, leg swings, or mobility drills will expedite recovery by clearing metabolic waste and easing tired muscles.

2. Rehydrate

We lose a lot of water through sweat when we run, which is fairly obvious to all runners who notice their shirts and shorts dripping at the end of a run. Less obvious, we lose a large amount of electrolytes when we sweat. Replenishing our electrolyte reserves can assist in our recovery2. Look for recovery drinks that contain Sodium (reduces cramps), Potassium (assists in muscle function), Calcium (assists in muscle and nerve function), Magnesium (helps recover muscles), and Chloride (needed to optimize sodium usage). Avoid sugar-heavy drinks, as these can have a diuretic effect.

3. Foam Roll It Out

Contrary to popular belief, foam rolling does not “break up” scar tissue or even really stretch the IT band. The force required to stretch an IT band is far beyond the pressure a human can apply by laying their body weight on a foam roller1. Instead, foam rolling aims to increase blood flow to a region of the body. Giving key muscle groups (think quads, glutes, calves) 60 to 90 seconds of rolling will reduce stiffness later in your day.

4. Massage (Self Or Massage Gun)

Is foam rolling not your thing? No worries! Simple massage to your key leg muscle groups, whether applied by your own hands or a massage gun, can be just as effective at increasing blood flow and reducing muscle soreness. Follow the same advice as you would with a foam roller: 60-90 seconds for muscles, and not directly over a bone or joint.

5. Plan Your Next Long Run

Like professional football teams reviewing game day footage, runners can also apply this strategy to their training program Did you meet your distance and time goals or fall off pace? Does this affect your next week of training runs? Did you find a good spot to stash a water bottle, negating the need to carry it on your back for the next run? Taking note of the execution of your run will make all subsequent runs more efficient and effective.

Our team is here to help you reach your running goals! Schedule a free assessment with a team near you to learn more tips and tricks to help you increase performance and address aches and pains that might hold you back in your training. Free assessments are available in-person and virtually through our telehealth services.

Schedule a Free Assessment

*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Seeber GH, Wilhelm MP, Sizer PS Jr, et al. THE TENSILE BEHAVIORS OF THE ILIOTIBIAL BAND – A CADAVERIC INVESTIGATION. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2020;15(3):451-459.
2. Millard-Stafford M, Snow TK, Jones ML, Suh H. The Beverage Hydration Index: Influence of Electrolytes, Carbohydrate and Protein. Nutrients. 2021;13(9):2933. Published 2021 Aug 25. doi:10.3390/nu13092933

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Choose PTEnduranceRunningcardiovascular healthhydrationlong distance run recovery

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