Is it better to run with sore legs or take a day off? We look at what causes muscle pain after running and how to avoid it in the future.
Do you want to run with sore legs from yesterday's workout? Perhaps you added a few kilometres to your usual route, set a new personal best, or attempted that big hill you'd been eyeing. You probably felt like the world's champion at the time, but you're so stiff now that you can barely walk down the stairs. Should you take the day off and stretch your muscles with yoga? Will putting on your trail running shoes make things worse, or will it help you recover by clearing up some lactic acid?
After a workout, muscle soreness is common, but pain can also indicate an injury.
Recognise "Normal" Soreness
Your legs may feel sore when you start a new workout programme because you're using muscles you haven't used before. You might get delayed-onset muscle soreness, which is caused by tiny tears in your muscles that happen when you use them more than usual. In these cases, running through the pain is usually acceptable. A little cardio can also help work out the soreness in your muscles. However, if the pain or soreness persists, you may need to take a day or two off.
Shin Splints Cause Pain
When you have shin splints, the pain usually occurs on the inside of your lower leg, but it can also occur on the front and outside of your lower leg. The pain will start while you are running and may go away once you stop. Don't try to push through the discomfort. You'll need to stop running for as long as your leg takes to heal. Shin splints can happen if you run with your foot turned too much or if you run on a hard surface.
Ankle and Achilles Tendon Injuries
Tendinitis typically manifests as pain in the Achilles tendon, which causes pain in the inner part of your ankle that can spread to the outer part. Your ankle may swell in the worst-case scenario. Starting hill runs, increasing your running speed, or turning your foot too much while running can all cause this. You might need to ice your ankle for 20 minutes three to four times a day, and you might need to switch to a more supportive running shoe. Consult your doctor about strengthening exercises, and don't ignore the discomfort. Rest your foot for a few days until the pain goes away.
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