If you’re a runner, you probably already know that having sore legs kind of comes with the territory. After all, when you’re logging any kind of significant mileage, you’re bound to have a day here and there where you’ll be feeling the aftereffects of a tough workout. But if you find that the soreness tends to linger in your quads, calves, or hips for more than a day or two, there could be other issues that you’ll need to address. Here are some of the most common reasons your legs might continue to feel sore after a run.
Overtraining is probably the number one cause of tired and sore legs. Without enough rest, there simply isn’t enough time for your body to recover, which can then lead to hitting a plateau in terms of progress, possibly even resulting in injury. It is important that you take regular rest days and avoid running too many miles for too many consecutive days. Mix up your routine to give your legs a break, and you’ll probably find that you’ll return to your running workouts with more strength and speed than before.
Worn Out Shoes
Another common cause for sore legs is worn out shoes. Over time, even the best running shoes lose their ability to absorb shock and provide cushioning for your feet and legs. When that happens, the impact of the workout is felt more strongly, which can lead to sore muscles that take longer to recover. Most experts recommend that you replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles, depending on the type of shoe you wear, your running style, the surface you run on, and so on. Failure to do so could lead to more serious injuries, such as shin splints or runner’s knee, both of which can be very painful and frustrating.
The Wrong Shoes
Even if your shoes are brand new and barely have any miles on them at all, they could still be causing you problems. If the shoes you are wearing aren’t designed to meet your particular needs, it could lead to sore legs or other injuries. If you find that your legs aren’t recovering the way they should, it may be time to consult with an expert. Stop by a local running shop that can help you analyze your stride and running style and recommend a shoe that fits your needs more closely. Modern running shoes are highly specialized, and what works for one person might not be right for someone else. Discovering which shoe works best for you can be a revelation, making running far more effortless and enjoyable.
The importance of staying hydrated before, during, and after a workout has been stressed many times, but failing to do so can have an impact on your performance. Your body uses fluids to help speed recovery, and if you aren’t drinking enough water or replacing electrolytes, it could cause your muscles to ache and take longer to shake off fatigue. Dehydration often leads to leg cramps as well, which is a sure sign that you need to be taking in more fluids. Give your body what it needs, and it will heal more quickly.
Not Running Enough
This may seem like a strange reason for your legs to hurt after a run, but bear with me for a moment. If you’re new to running, or returning after a period of inactivity, it is not uncommon for your muscles to be sore. It takes time for your legs to get used to this type of activity, but if you do it regularly enough that soreness will start to fade. The important thing is to not overdo it when first getting started and stick to a good training plan that ramps up distance and speed over time. Eventually, your legs will become so strong that running a few miles won’t seem to bother them at all. It just takes lots of patience and perseverance to get to that point.
Beyond these common causes of sore legs, it is possible that you are experiencing an injury of some sort. If that might be the case, take some time off and allow your body plenty of time to recover and regain strength before resuming your running workouts. If the problem persists, be sure to consult a doctor.