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Health & Wellbeing

How to cheat Post-Run Muscle Soreness with these 5 Foods

Experiencing muscle soreness after a run is a normal part of your body adapting to exercise - but there are practical steps you can take to reduce the ache. As well as massage and stretching, what you eat after a run can help to reducing that post-run muscular pain. Dietitian Laura Tilt tells us about five foods proven to help take the 'ouch' out of your recovery.


Proven to benefit sleep patterns, a shot of cherry juice could also be the key to chasing off post run muscle pain. In one 2006 study, healthy runners given a daily serving of cherry juice in the week leading up to a 26k relay race experienced less pain than a placebo group. Similar results were seen in UK runners consuming cherry juice in the days leading up to a marathon, with faster muscle recover and less inflammation. It's thought the benefits are thanks to high levels of antioxidants in the cherries, which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Try it: A 30ml 'shot' of tart cherry juice concentrate is the ideal dose - mix with apple juice for a longer drink.


When it comes to muscle recovery, whey protein beats off the competition. Not only is it fast digesting (which means it reaches the muscle more quickly), it's also a rich source of branch-chain amino acids, a group of proteins that are particularly beneficial for muscle growth. In one 2010 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, long distance runners given drinks containing branch chain amino acids and carbohydrate experienced less muscle soreness and lower levels of muscle damage than those drinking a placebo.

Try it: Blend up a post-run smoothie - one scoop of whey contains the recommended 20 grams of protein recommended for muscle recovery. Add a banana, milk and cocoa powder for a balance of protein, carbohydrate and antioxidants.


A natural analgesic, ginger has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years to provide pain relief. In a duo of studies from Georgia College and State University, healthy volunteers eating just two grams of ginger after a strength training workout experienced up to 25 per cent less muscle pain.

Try it: in your evening meal. Grate fresh ginger into a post-run stir-fry with chicken or tofu and plenty of veggies. Serve on top of noodles or rice to help replenish carbohydrate stores.


Salmon boasts high levels of omega 3; essential oils that help control inflammation. Researchers at Urmia University found that 2 grams of omega 3 a day was enough to put the brakes on muscle pain in the 48 hours after exercise. All oily fish contain omega 3, but salmon and mackerel contain more than most.

Try it: Served with carb rich rice - a 100-gram fillet contains around two grams of omega 3. If you're veggie, consider a supplement.


Most of us know the caffeine in coffee can help to reduce fatigue during a run, but it can also put the brakes on the onset of muscle soreness. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, men given a dose of caffeine an hour before strength training experienced less muscle pain than a control group, with effects most noticeable in the 2-3 days after exercise. The effects were seen with a dose equivalent to 5mg per kg of body weight, but it's worth experimenting with lower doses if you're not a habitual coffee drinker.

Try it: before a workout - you'll benefit from the natural performance lift as well as less muscle pain in the days following your workout. A single shot of espresso contains around 100mg of caffeine. Just beware it can disrupt sleep - so stick to using it in the morning.

Laura Tilt is a registered Dietitian, specialising in weight loss and mindful eating, sports nutrition and the low FODMAP diet for IBS.

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