Move to Recover

Running 50 miles in one day is tough.

This week is all about recovery for me. That doesn’t mean I’m just lying around all day with my feet up. I’m doing active recovery.

After the race, I iced my tired, sore feet and legs. I took a warm shower, put on some comfy clothes and crawled into bed. I sat in bed with my feet propped up and ate a little food and drank a beer. Then I went to sleep.

The next day I drove 5 hours home. Being in the car for so long made all my muscles stiffen up. But once I was home, I put on my hiking boots and headed into the woods. I didn’t go far and I didn’t go fast. I walked for about a half hour. In the days since then, I’ve tried to do a little walk each day. Today I went for an easy 2-mile run.

It’s so tempting, when we’ve overused muscles, to to nothing. Moving hurts, so we don’t want to move. But not moving just prolongs recovery, making it that much harder to get back to normal.

Our muscles recover much faster when we continue to use them. Moving keeps things from tightening up even more. Moving gets blood flowing to the muscles. Moving helps to move any fluid from swelling out. Moving is good!

There’s a reason why nurses make patients get up and move so soon after surgery. Moving gets all your body systems functioning again. It keeps your muscles from getting weak, thereby limiting your mobility even more. It helps clear your lungs.

I remember after my 10+ hr. mastectomy & reconstruction, with massive incisions everywhere, how I was quite convinced that my nurse was evil – literally evil – when she made me sit up and move to a chair. But she was right – it helped. I recovered remarkably quickly: my lungs were clear, my head was clear, I quickly regained my balance and strength.

Those nurses, they’re on to something.

Whether you’re recovering from over-exertion, surgery, or some types of injury, recover by moving. OK, a serious injury where you’ve broken or torn something does not apply. If your doctor tells you to stay off your feet or not to move something, do what she tells you!

But the rest of us, move to recover.


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3 Responses to Move to Recover

  1. Julie,

    You are so right about moving to help ourselves recover. Even an easy walk is beneficial. I also had a 10+ hour of surgery, regarding a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

    Moving around was difficult at first, but I’m glad I was able to.

  2. Yes, it’s definitely difficult at first, but so worth it! It can be hard to convince people that moving really is the best thing because it feels so much better to just lie in bed. But in the long run it’s so much better. And you’re right, it doesn’t have to be a big thing – even an easy walk is beneficial. Thanks, Beth.

  3. gillian says:

    I too have learnt that exercise is the best form of recovery. I did not have surgery but I remember going back to gym about halfway through my radiation treatment (post-chemo) and being able to walk slowly for only three minutes on the treadmill and gasping and saying to the two biokineticists with me: “Do you do 15 minute sessions cos I am never going to make 30 minutes!” And today it’s a different story.
    And how when having chemo, and banned from doing any exercise – I know that not everyone has that restriction – I got a list of low energy exercises and, apart from the days I had chemo, got a list of low-energy exercises from my biokineticist and did leg stretches and restorative yoga poses. Looking back, those minimal movements kept me sane.

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