Simple Post-Marathon Recovery

Here are some simple, early steps from Anna Barnsley Physios to help you recover from months of training and getting over the finish line. Treat your body well. It deserves it!

  1. Keep moving

Once you cross the line, try to avoid the temptation to just stop and crash. Wind it down, walk around for at least 15 mins and give your body a chance to start dealing with the by-products of endurance exercise and to return to its resting state.

  1. Legs up

Find a tree, friend, wall or lamp-post and elevate your legs for 10 mins to help reduce swelling.

  1. Compression

Immediately after this pop some compression tights/leggings on, again to help reduce the effects of inflammation and promote recovery. 

  1. Eat, re-hydrate.

A light snack within the first 30 mins post-race will help your body start the repair process by giving it some fuel to work with. Approx 300 calories comprised of carbs and protein will do the trick. Sip water according to thirst and snack on healthy carb and protein based foods during the day.

  1. Cold shower/Ice

As much as you may want to soak in a hot bath- please don’t! Heat promotes bleeding (from micro-trauma to the muscles) and swelling. A 10 min cold bath or shower is the way to go post race. Keep the water on the cool side for the following 3 days aswell. Ice any injured areas for 10-15 min periods (any longer can be counter productive) up to once in every hour during the day and the following day.

  1. Massage

Post-race massage should be super-light and focused on flushing techniques- even if you could tolerate anything more than a moderate pressure (which you won’t!!) don’t! Deeper techniques are good around day 3-5 post-race, once the early stages of muscle repair are complete. Sports massage is available from the Physios at our Richmond and Chelsea clinics or we can help find someone near you. 

  1. Stretch

As with massage, keep stretches light, gently push into range and hold for 3 x 20 seconds each. Repeat later on in the evening and regularly during the following 2 days when the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) kicks in.

And finally, enjoy some down-time! Get any injuries dealt with during the week following the race and allow a couple of weeks for your body to rest before you think about running again. You can do some cross-training with low impact to help with recovery in the meantime.