How Do I Embrace My Pain When Running? | Hikers University

Trail running is fun, but it can be harmful to your joints. So how do you embrace your pain when running so you can keep going?

Trail running is a form of off-road running that takes place on trails, often in scenic or natural areas. Unlike road running, which takes place on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete, trail running is done on softer surfaces like dirt, mud, and grass. This makes trail running a more low-impact activity than road running, which can be easier on the joints.

For pain management, stretch before you run to warm up your muscles and prevent injury. If you feel soreness, ice the affected area to reduce inflammation. Also, eat a mix of carbs and protein, and drink plenty of water. If you still have pain, do some yoga or get a massage.

In addition, trail running often involves obstacles like roots and rocks, which can provide a more challenging and fun workout than simply running on a flat surface. Whether you're looking for a new way to get outside and explore or simply seeking a more challenging workout, trail running may be the perfect activity for you.

As trail running enthusiasts, we have put together some tips to help you embrace your pain when running.

Table of contents


Post-Run Stretching

When you finish a trail run, your muscles may be tight and sore. Stretching can help to alleviate some of the pain and prevent further injury. While stretching after a run may not seem like the most enjoyable activity, it is important to take the time to cool down properly.

Start by walking around for a few minutes to slow your heart rate gradually. Then, perform some gentle stretches, such as calf raises, hamstring curls, and quadriceps stretches. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds or more.

You may also want to use a foam roller or massage ball to work out any knots or trigger points. If you take the time to stretch after every run, you will start to notice a difference in how your body feels.

Not only will stretching help to reduce pain, but it can also improve your range of motion and prevent injuries in the future.

Use Some Ice

Ice is often used to manage pain, inflammation, and muscle soreness. This is because ice can help to constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling.

It can also numb the area and provide relief from pain. There are several ways that runners can ice their sore muscles after a run. One option is to take an ice bath. This involves sitting in a tub of cold water for 10-15 minutes.

Another option is to use ice packs or wraps. These can be applied directly to the sore area for 10-15 minutes. By using ice, runners can help to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with trail running.

Eat Carbs and Proteins

After a long trail run, your body needs the benefits of both carbs and proteins to help you recover. Carbs help to replenish glycogen stores, while proteins help to repair and rebuild damaged muscles.

That's why many runners turn to nutrition bars as a quick and easy way to get the nutrients they need. However, not all bars are created equal. Some bars, like Clif bars, are designed specifically for athletes and provide a balanced mix of carbs and protein.

Others, like Kind bars, are more focused on healthy ingredients and may not have as many of the nutrients you need after a run. Power bars are another option that offers a high amount of protein and can be a good choice if you're looking to build muscle.

Ultimately, the best bar for you will depend on your specific needs. But whether you choose Clif, Kind, or Power, ensure you're getting the benefits of both carbs and protein to help you recover from your next trail run.

Don’t Stop Working Out

It's not uncommon to feel sore after a training run. Some soreness is to be expected, especially if you're just starting out or increasing your mileage. However, this doesn't mean that you should stop working out.

In fact, not working out may lead to increased stiffness of the muscles, which can make it even more difficult to get back into your training routine. Instead, focus on other exercises that don't stress the same sore muscles.

For example, try swimming or biking if your quads are sore from running. Or, if your calves are tight, try doing some calf raises or Foam rolling. By cross-training and giving your muscles a chance to recover, you'll be able to stay on track with your training schedule and avoid any setbacks.

Warm Up Before a Run

Before a trail run, it's essential to warm up properly. Warming up helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, improve range of motion, and reduce the risk of injury. There are a few different ways to warm up before running.

A good way to start is with some dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches are active movements that take the body through a full range of motion. They're different from static stretches, which are held for a period of time.

Some examples of dynamic stretches include leg swings, walking lunges, and arm circles. Another way to warm up is by doing some light cardio. This could be jogging in place, jumping rope, or marching in place.

The goal is to get the heart rate up and the muscles loose. Finally, it's important to do some specific exercises to prepare for the trail run. This might include things like high knees, butt kickers, and grapevines. By taking the time to warm up properly, you'll be able to manage the pain of a trail run and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors.

Try Meditation and Yoga

You're bound to experience some muscular pain when you go for a run afterward. This is because when you exercise, your muscles undergo microscopic tears, leading to inflammation. While some inflammation is necessary for healing, too much of it can be painful.

This is where meditation and yoga come in. By practicing meditation and yoga, you can help to calm your muscles down and reduce the amount of inflammation.

Meditation helps to release muscle tension and clear your mind, while yoga helps stretch your muscles and improve your flexibility. As a result, meditation and yoga can help manage the pain of a trail run.

So if you're looking to make your trail runs more comfortable, add meditation and yoga to your routine.

Get a Massage

For many runners, the appeal of a trail run is the opportunity to explore new scenery and challenge yourself in a more natural setting. However, the uneven terrain and unexpected obstacles can also take a toll on your body, leading to muscle soreness and joint pain.

Massage can be an effective way to manage the pain associated with trail running. The soothing strokes help to relax muscles that the demands of the run have tightened, and the deep tissue work can help to release knots and trigger points.

In addition, massage can help to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, both of which can speed up the healing process. If you're looking for a way to cope with the aches and pains of trail running, consider getting a massage. You may just find that it makes all the difference.

Don’t Ignore the Pain

Any runner knows that the occasional twinge of pain is par for the course. However, it's important to take heed if you start to feel persistent pain after a trail run.

Ignoring the pain and pushing through can do more harm than good and may lead to a more serious injury. If the pain persists, consult a doctor or seek medication.

In the meantime, try to run on softer surfaces and avoid any activities that aggravate the pain. With a little bit of TLC, you'll be back on the trail in no time.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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