This piece is sponsored content in partnership with Tiger Balm.
So you’ve just finished your first Spartan Sprint or topped off your latest Trifecta. Now what? Unless you want to struggle to get out of chairs for the next week, you’ve got a new task at hand: recover—and fast. Here’s how to give your body the post-race recovery TLC it needs in the minutes, hours, and days afterward.
Post Race Recovery: Immediately After The Race
Don’t make (an understandable) beeline for the shower just yet! You’ve got one major to-do in the window of time right after your race.
Refuel & Rehydrate
First things first: It’s time to refuel. “Within an hour of finishing, you want to consume carbohydrates, protein, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs),” says trainer and coach Mark Barroso, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., S.G.X. While the carbohydrates replenish energy stores, the protein and BCAAs help rebuild muscle. And don’t forget the fluids!
Barroso’s go-to recovery fuel:
- sports drink (with powdered BCAAs mixed in)
- protein bar
Post Race Recovery: Later That Day
Even if you spend the rest of the day post-race on the couch (no judgment), keep your recovery on track with a few simple tactics.
Stretch & Foam Roll
To ward off muscle and joint stiffness, Barroso recommends stretching and foam rolling periodically in the hours after finishing a race. Foam rolling boosts circulation and eases inflammation in the muscles, while stretching keeps your joints well-oiled and limber, he says.
Foam roll your major muscle groups and incorporate stretches like butterflies and lunges.
Keep Up The Fluids
According to one Journal of Athletic Training study, failing to properly rehydrate after going hard can ultimately increase delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Keep hydrating with water or sports drinks throughout the day, says Barroso. Your goal: consistently pale urine.
Post Race Recovery: The Day(s) After The Race
You’re not done yet. Depending on your fitness level—and the distance race you’ve finished—you can expect the recovery process to take up to four days or so.
Two Words: Tiger Balm
If your joints and muscles need some extra love in the days after a Spartan, Barroso recommends applying a menthol-based cream or ointment—which can ease aches, pains, and stiffness—a few times a day. Tiger Balm’s Active Muscle Rub and Spray uses a combination of menthol and camphor (another plant extract) to provide relief naturally. (Plus, the spray is great for easy-on application to those hard-to-reach areas.)
Move Your Body (Strategically)
If you must work out in the first few days post-race, Barroso recommends sticking to lower-intensity cardio and light weights. Work on your feet all day? Take two or three days completely off from exercise to give your body more opportunity to recover.
Keep On Foam Rolling
Research shows that foam rolling for 20 minutes a day helps reduce muscle tenderness and DOMS after a tough race or workout, so continue rolling daily until you feel 100 percent.