Feeling sore or stiff in the legs after running is not always a sign of injury, it could be that your body is just adapting to the new physical stress.
If you have developed knee pain recently or you are recovering from a recent injury I will talk about what to do later on in this article.
I will address the two most common knee injuries which are Illiotibial band syndrome and runners knee.
I will also address how to deal with muscle soreness around the knee.
Running tips for managing muscle soreness
If you are experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) you may find that the pain comes and goes within a few days.
Anyone can suffer from DOMS after a running session, although it is not entirely a running side effect.
Several factors, such as increased running intensity can cause DOMS.
Taking the right precautions to prevent or minimise DOMS effect should be your first goal.
There are several ways you can go about this, like having a caffeine-filled beverage before exercising, proper warm up, increasing your workout intensity bit by bit or taking fruits like cherries.
If you still end up with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after taking precautions, there are other methods to address the symptoms.
1. Apply ice
Apply an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a piece of cloth – to prevent tissue damage – on the area you are feeling pains.
Do not apply the ice on the area longer than 20 minutes at a time up to six times within 48 hours
doing this will help in reducing the pain and swelling by numbing the affected area.
2. Apply heat
You can treat DOMS effects with heat, common methods used in treatment include:
Applying heat helps to increase the flow of blood to the body; thus, relieving the symptoms of DOMS.
3. Ease into your running routine
It is advisable you go for an easy run if you still feel sore, doing this has its benefits
it improves the flow of blood to your recovering muscles and reduces the effects of DOMS.
4. Gently stretch
Stretching your muscles gently for about 30 seconds promotes quick recovery as it aligns the collagen fibres during healing
Stretching your leg muscles and joints, such as your knees, hamstrings, and calves before running is crucial.
5. Elevate your legs
If the pain is severe, raise your legs above your heart
Doing this will decrease blood flow.
Decreasing blood flow reduces the swelling as well as the pain and stiffness.
To facilitate muscle recovery, it is important you give your body rest for a day or two
The pain will reduce during recovery, and you can resume training afterward
You can reduce the effect of DOMS by 30% when you massage the area you are feeling sore or stiff
Massage helps in improving blood circulation; thus reducing the swell in your muscles
Foam rolling is another way to massage your body and alleviate the effects of DOMS if you find it difficult to massage the affected area by yourself
8. Use acupuncture therapy
Although not everyone is interested in acupuncture, lots of research have shown that this therapy can minimise the effects of DOMS when applied on sore muscles.
Exercise repetition is a good way to reduce the effect of DOMS or muscle soreness
Although you may suffer from DOMS at first, it will eventually reduce when you continue to exercise as your muscles gradually adapt to your workout.
Running tips for bad knees
You can still run if you still have stiff and sore legs but no sign of injury.
To prevent injury, it’s advisable you do a lot of warm up and ease into your run gradually.
However, if there is no improvement after applying any of these methods, then it’s possible you are suffering from a more serious running injury.
The 2 most common running injuries
Runner’s knee and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) are the two most common type of running injuries.
Although pain is a symptom of both injuries, the areas of the leg where the pain affects differ.
Before reading on I must mention that I am not a physiotherapist and if these symptoms apply to you, then you must see a physio.
You must consult with a doctor if you have got knee pain. Below are some tips that I have researched that may help you identify your symptoms.
Runner’s knee is usually caused by an overload on the knee or tissues around the knee, characterized by pains in the kneecap or around the knee cap.
Runner’s knee occurs when you don’t warm up before exercising or if you do your workout the wrong way.
Treating this condition will vary depending on the cause of the injury.
Decrease running at an early stage to reduce stress in the knee and facilitate healing. It’s advisable you avoid running downhill since it stresses the patellofemoral complex.
Avoid exercise that has to do with bending the knee. Bending the knee will only increase the forces under the knee cap.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Pain(s) outside the knee is a major symptom of ITBS, which occurs when the iliotibial band is inflamed.
ITBS is usually caused by anatomical problems or increased exercise intensity.
Implementing a strength training program is the common method of treatment, it helps prevent overworking the muscles in the future.
Use an IT band knee wrap.
Massage the area – Target the trigger points with a foam roller to work out the tightness of the IT band and pain you are feeling. A deep tissue massage along the whole IT band will facilitate tissue mobilization; thus, promoting quick recovery.
Increase strength – Lack of strength is responsible for most of the issues with IT band. You can facilitate recovery and reduce any possibility of injury in the future when you spend time in strength training your glutes and hips. Some strengthen exercise include lateral leg raise, lying hip abduction, and clamshell.
Stretches – There are different types of stretches you can perform when treating iliotibial band syndrome. Stretching will help reduce pain and foster complete recovery. Check details, and examples of each IT band stretches and exercises below.
Gerald has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise, Nutrition & Health. He is an ASA qualified swimming teacher, and a qualified personal trainer. Gerald has developed his own exclusion diet, which he uses to help his clients lose weight.