Faster Trail Recovery: Six Rules

Follow these simple rules to bounce back quicker from the intense demands of the trail



1. Step it up

Undulating, uneven terrain hands the worst beating to your vastus medialis obliquus (VMO). Located on your lower inner thighs, your VMOs stop your knees buckling in and can be the first to cramp on long trail outings.

To flush out the metabolic waste that pools in your legs after running, muscle restoration therapist Josh Shadle advises doing 10 minutes
on a step machine at a slow to medium pace.

‘It works the same muscles as running but without straining ligaments, which need rest.’

No access to a stepper? Do side-to-side hops from one foot to another for 30-second bursts.

2. Feel the squeeze

Another way to flush out the harmful waste fluids is by throwing on compression socks (PWX Compression Socks, £30 from 2xushop.co.uk) and K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover shoes (£55, wiggle.co.uk) after gruelling runs.

3. Knead to go

Take an active approach to removing metabolic waste by using a foam roller or tennis ball. Massage your leg muscles for five minutes, focusing on areas that feel tightest. Then lie on the roller or ball, moving in small circles to break up muscle fibres.

‘It also increases blood flow, which helps tissue heal faster,’ says Shadle.

4. Shake it up

You have 30 minutes to shut down the stress responses of exercise - including cortisol, a hormone that inhibits muscle repair. The key? Protein and carbs, says nutrition scientist Stacy Sims.

This is her formula: in a blender, mix a glass of rice milk, a tablespoon of whey protein powder, a little cocoa powder, some dried oats, a handful of frozen berries and a shot of green tea.

5. Catch a cold

Ten minutes in a bath of cold water and a few ice cubes has been shown to decrease inflammation by causing the muscles to contract, pumping out metabolic waste.

If  you can’t face freezing for 10 minutes, at least avoid the more alluring alternative: a hot soak may feel good, but it may actually hinder your recovery.

6. Sleep it off

The more you snooze, the more your muscles repair themselves. University of Chicago sleep researcher Eve Van Cauter found that healthy people who get too little sleep metabolise glucose less efficiently.

This suggests that sleep deprivation impairs recovery. Van Cauter’s research recommends eight to 12 hours’ kip for at least two to three nights to recover fully.

Visit our essential trail running hub to discover the best offroad races, essential kit and how to blitz your trail fears.


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