The Importance of a Good Recovery Plan

By Dr. Michael Cerami

As runners, we spend a lot of time thinking and planning our adventures. Whether it’s an early morning street run before work or finding a new trail to explore, the challenge and excitement of something new keeps us active and moving.

One thing we do tend to neglect though is the boring necessity of having a good recovery plan. This article will give you some specific ideas of how to take care of your body so you can continue to run happy.
Recovery is vital to replenishing your body’s reserves so you can rebuild muscle tissue and be able to adequately perform for your next run or workout. Even if you feel “fine” after your run, you should consider trying a few of these simple ideas and monitor your results. We’ve had many athletes and patients that integrated just a few of these changes into their routines and were amazed how much faster they recovered as well as having more energy.
Let me share some things I do and ideas I learned from Dr. Jeff Spencer; one of the team doctors for Team Radio Shack at this year’s Tour de France and a member of US Postal and Discovery teams 8 Tour wins.

Magnesium: Some of the latest research is changing the way we view muscle soreness. The old idea of soreness being caused by lactic acid buildup is no longer valid. There are good indications now showing that muscle soreness is being caused by calcium leaking into the muscle after exercise. Magnesium (spray or oral liquid) is helping reduce this post exercise soreness by blocking the calcium from entering the muscles. We recommend 5-10 sprays per leg post long workout and 1 oz. per day in liquid form.

Ice baths: Cooling your core temperature and soaking your muscles with an ice bath can dramatically speed your recovery. The water should be between 58 and 65 degrees and you should try and keep your lower body submerged for 15 minutes. It’s a bit challenging at first, but after a few sessions you’ll get used to it.

Proteolytic Enzymes: Inflammation builds up in the athlete’s body after exercise as fluid in the connective tissue between the muscle layers. As the pressure increases, it compresses the blood and nerve vessels which also travel through the connective tissue, this pressure causes your pain. Proteolytic enzymes help break down this congestion quickly so it can be flushed out of the body. These enzymes should always be taken on an empty stomach and are also extremely effective in treating acute injuries. NOTE/ PRECAUTION: Theses enzymes are not recommended if you are taking any kind of blood thinner. Check with your primary care doctor if you have questions.

Fish oil/EPA: We recently posted 2 articles on our website about the importance of fish oil. One references research from the journal Surgical Neurology and shows how taking fish oil regularly can substantially reduce inflammation. The 2nd article answers questions about why you need to take a good quality product to get results.

Dr. Michael Cerami is an avid runner, cyclist and triathlete. He is available for a no charge consultation one Saturday per month at The Salt Lake Running Company (Salt Lake store) by appointment. He can be reached at 801-486-1818 or online at www.utahsportsandwellness.com

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1 Comment. Leave new

Very resourceful article! We often focus most on planning & organizing our workouts and in the midst of that, the necessity of a good recovery plan is often neglected. I’ve tried ice-baths and while it feels uncomfortable at first, it does help to constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling & tissue breakdown.


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