We’ve all seen the hilarious leg day memes like Yoda’s “Leg day it is, walk like a baby giraffe you will” or “Finally recovered from leg day aaaaaand it’s leg day again.” We all know how painful the day after leg day is.
You might be wondering then about going for a run a day after a leg strength workout. We’re primarily talking to people interested in weight lifting, but this article will be useful for runners as well.
By the end of this article, you’ll know whether running after leg day is a good or bad idea for you. And if you do decide to do it, we’ve added some tips to make it more comfortable and less painful.
Why is Leg Day Important for Strength Training?
Although some people like to focus on working their arms, back, and chest, you shouldn’t skip leg day because you’ll miss some significant benefits.
Builds More Overall Muscle
When you do compound moves like squats and dead-lifts, you’re working large muscle groups of your body. This increases your overall muscle build. In addition, it requires more energy, so you’ll also burn more calories.
Builds Core Strength
If you want to get better at virtually all of your lifts, you need a strong core to stabilize your lower body. It will also assist in building a greater range of motion in other muscles.
Helps You Become a Better Runner (or Cyclist or Swimmer)
It goes without saying that the stronger your legs, the better the runner you will be. You’ll have the stable core that you need for good running form and the power for a stronger stride. But if you’re into a different sport like cycling or swimming, leg day will also help you out.
Helps With Back Pain
Back pain is normally due to weak legs and a weak lower body. If you want to deal with fewer lower back injuries, you need to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads.
Why is Leg Day Hard?
Leg day is hard because it works your largest muscle groups. So you’ve worked more of your muscle mass than usual. Additionally, you’ll often end up doing exercises like squats that work more muscles than just your legs, and that’s just exhausting.
Think about it this way. In the words of one personal trainer, “big muscles = big inflammation = big pain.” Plus, you have to use your legs to get around, stand up, and even to sit down. It’s difficult to avoid using your legs, even when they are exhausted. By contrast, it’s easier to avoid pain in your arms because you don’t use them as much as your legs.
How Can I Prevent Soreness After Leg Day?
The reality is that you will have some soreness after leg day because your muscles have experienced microscopic tears and need to heal. But you can make it better.
Make sure that you properly warm up before strength work. Good warm ups are often the key to feeling better physically.
Also, be sure to take breaks during your leg session. Stretch your muscles afterward. And don’t stop after that first leg day. It’s just first-time pain, and it will get better over time.
You might also want to consider icing your muscles to get the inflammation down, or going for a walk or a super-slow jog to help loosen up your muscles and get the blood flowing.
Is Running After Leg Day Okay?
The answer depends on who you ask. Some people think you shouldn’t while others think it’s fine. At the end of the day, though, it depends on what is best for you. Ultimately, you’re going to know your body best.
Why Some People Say No
Some people are afraid of overexertion By running the next day, you risk putting too much exertion and stress on your legs and cause an injury. While it’s true that overuse can lead to injuries, this doesn’t have to be the case if you don’t overdo it.
Additionally, these people argue that you need rest and recovery after a hard workout. Again, this is also true, but you can go for a nice, slow run and do some active recovery.
Why It’s Okay to Run After Leg Day
First, you need to balance cardio and strength training. If you’re a runner, you probably lean toward the cardio, but if you’re someone who is into weight lifting, you lean the other way.
Just like experts are always telling runners not to forget to cross train, people who weight lift shouldn’t forget cardio.
You won’t overexert your legs if you do your leg session the day before correctly and don’t overdo it. Your run the day after should be nice and easy. Don’t go too hard or too far.
Finally, active recovery by running will help you recover faster than rest alone. Active recovery helps prevent additional soreness by promoting blood flow.
How Can I Go for a Run After Leg Day?
If you want to go for a run the day after leg day, follow these tips so that you get all of the benefits and none of the downsides.
Do a Warm Up
Warming up makes all the difference to help get your legs and the rest of your body ready to go. Make sure that you start with a good warm, like a brisk walk or dynamic stretching.
Just like you don’t want to start a car on a cold day and immediately drive off, give your body a chance to get warmed up. This will help prevent injuries and make your run more comfortable.
Go for a Slow, Short Run
Because this run is for recovery, you shouldn’t be trying to reach any speed or length goals. Now is not the time for track intervals, a tempo run, or a long run.
Instead, take it nice and slow and don’t go for too long. You’re just trying to get the blood flowing; you’re not trying to overexert yourself.
Wear Compression Pants/Shorts
Finally, research has shown that compression pants/shorts/gear help aid in recovery because they remove toxins from your legs by improving circulation. This speeds up recovery and improves your performance.
Although the evidence is not as clear on benefits while you’re actually running, it’s worthwhile to wear compression gear for your run after leg day because your main focus is to flush out toxins anyway.
What are Some Other Tips for Recovering After Leg Day?
We all know what to do to recover most quickly, but that doesn’t mean that we always do it. If you want to feel better after leg day, actually incorporate these ideas into your training regimen.
Just like a car needs gas, humans need fuel and hydration to stay at the top of their performance. Your body will tell you if you need water because you’ll get thirsty. Pay attention to that need and make sure that water is easily accessible when you want a drink.
Get Lots of Sleep
Getting the proper amount of sleep is essential for proper recovery. Not getting enough sleep can make you more susceptible to illnesses and doesn’t give your body what it needs to repair itself and make you stronger. Don’t skimp on sleep.
Massage Sore Parts of Your Body
If parts of your legs or body are sore, have someone massage them or use a foam roller to roll them out. Believe me: this will make a huge difference. You might even want to use lotion to keep your skin from drying out and kill two birds with one stone.
Although you might feel like drinking a couple beers after a hard workout, it’s best to avoid alcohol because it’s a diuretic. Those couple beers can dehydrate you much faster than normal if you aren’t smart about it.
Hydration is an important part of recovery, so you want to avoid alcohol because it will remove fluids that you really need to recover.
Wear Compression Gear After Workout/Run
Finally, like we mentioned above, wearing compression shorts or pants after a workout or run will help improve your blood flow, assisting you in recovering faster. I have several articles of compression gear, and I always feel better when I use them.
In the end, running after leg day is actually a good idea if you do it right. It will help you recover faster and make your next leg day that much more productive.
Just take it nice and slow and don’t overdo it. You’ll experience all the benefits of running the day after leg day without the disadvantages of overexerting yourself or causing injuries.