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ask the physio: recovery strategies

* Static stretches: Stretching helps to lengthen muscles, reduce muscle soreness and joint stiffness. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat each one 2 to 3 times.

Never bounce when stretching. Aim to stretch the muscle to the point of tightness. Stretches should not cause discomfort or pain.

* Cool down: All your runs should start with a warm-up and finish with a cool-down.

Aim to finish your run with a five-minute jog or brisk walk to help return your heart rate to normal, reduce the temperature of your muscles and help reduce stiffness and soreness.

* Foam roller: Get your hands on a foam roller – possibly the best investment for any budding runner. Foam rollers stretch muscles, improve circulation, break down scar tissue and soft tissue adhesions.

Five minutes of your own DIY sports massage will put you on the road to recovery following a heavy session.

* Hit the shower: Have a warm shower or bath straight after your run and change into a fresh set of clothes.

* Sleep: Possibly the most important factor that manages health and fitness, as hormones released when we sleep influence cell growth, repair and immune function.

* PRICE: If you sustain a minor soft tissue injury follow the PRICE protocol – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. For more serious injuries, contact your local chartered physiotherapist.

* Rehydrate and refuel: Replace the fluid lost by taking on water or an isotonic drink and refuel your body with a carbohydrate/protein snack within 30 minutes of exercise.

If you cannot stomach solid food straight after a run, try some chocolate milk.

> Louise Mulhare

Louise Mulhare is a chartered physiotherapist in private practice. The ISCP is an official supporter of the 2014 Flora Women's Mini Marathon. To find a chartered physiotherapist near you, visit www.findaphysio.ie For further information, contact the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists on 01-4022148 or email info@iscp.ie