Post Event Recovery
It's easy to think of the finish line as the end of your event - however so many biological processes have been implemented during your race, that you need to allow your body to return to homeostasis (our regulated internal environment).
One such biological process is the increased blood flow to skeletal muscles. This process is needed to meet the demand that exercise places on our muscles, but once the extra blood is no longer needed, it must be returned to the heart. A post-event massage is the ideal way to achieve this. The massage should be performed within 2 hours of the event finishing and should have an emphasis on compressive effleurage (long strokes) and petrissage (percussive movements). A good post event massage will also help to rid the muscles of other metabolic by-products such as lactic acid.
Possibly the most common post event complaint is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). We've all been there - you groan when you try to walk up some stairs or when you sit down, and it feels like you'll never run again! New research suggests that DOMS is caused by micro trauma to the muscle fibers or micro tears to the fascia, sometimes swelling (oedema) or inflammation - and sometimes a combination of all. Radox Muscle Soak is a brand of bath salts that aids recovery from DOMS. It is best used in a tepid bath for 20-30 minutess. Again, Sports Massage is useful to prevent and also treat DOMS.
Depending on your event, static stretching will also likely be an important part of your cool down regime. This is often forgotten about but is vital in returning your muscles to their normal length. Hold your stretches for 20-25 seconds and do not bounce. If any particular stretch or movement is painful, you should have it looked at by a professional.
Finally, hydration is crucial. Sports drinks often contain high levels of sugar and artificial flavours. Instead, add a pinch of salt and juice of half a lemon to half a liter of water.
Well done on completing your event!