When you finish a race, the joy of achievement and relief radiate from your eyes. Then, the reality of physical exhaustion kicks in. You're overheated and dehydrated. The aches and pains slowly set in. This is time for you to focus on recovery.
Understand Muscle Soreness
Soreness comes from microscopic tears in the muscles. Swelling is caused from fluids that have accumulated between the muscles, which creates pressure on the nerve endings of the skin. The continuous impact that the body endures from running can create injuries such as hairline fractures of the feet and legs, joint inflammation, excessive wear and muscular and ligament fatigue.
The intensity of running a long-distance race causes your glycogen stores, or energy stores, to run dry which leaves the body depleted. Crossing the finish line of any event is a positive thing, but you're likely to head home with aches and pains all over your body.
Ease Aches and Pains: 6 Post-Race Yoga Poses
To ease soreness, it's important to stretch. Here are six gentle yoga poses that will help alleviate post-race pains.
More: The ABCs of Yoga Styles
Padangusthasana: Big Toe Pose
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Fold forward and grab your big toes. Draw the belly in and lift your sit bones towards the sky. Activate the quadriceps and allow the neck and head to relax down. If your hamstrings are tight bend your knees slightly so you don't overstretch. Draw the torso towards the legs if you're flexible. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles.
Benefits: Strengthens the thighs and lower abdominals; stretches the back, hamstrings and calves.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana: One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
Start on all fours. Slide the right knee up and place the right foot in front of the left knee. The outside of the right shin rests on the floor. Slowly extend your left leg back and activate the leg. Lower the right glute down and position the right foot in front of the left hip. You can place a blanket under the right glute for support. Square your hips and shoulders, lift your chest, and drop your shoulders down. Remain here or slowly fold forward to rest on your forearms. You can also bring the chest all the way down and reach the arms forward. Remain here for 5 to 10 breath cycles, and then switch sides.
Benefits: Stretches the thighs, groin, psoas, abdomen, chest, shoulders and neck. Opens the shoulders and chest.