‘Having a massage can improve circulation and help to loosen muscles’ (Picture: Getty)You have just run 26.2 miles in one go. You are a total superhero.
But now you can’t walk.
Running a marathon is a seriously intense physical challenge and the build up of lactic acid over hours of pounding the pavement will likely lead to some intense soreness over the next few days.
So if you’re walking like John Wayne and struggling to even sit on the loo, we’ve got some top tips to ease the pain and help you get back on your feet.
Strength and Conditioning Coach, James Harrison knows all about the agonies of muscle soreness. But he has some fool-proof strategies that will help your body recover in record time.
Drink it in
Hydration is key before, during and after the race.
Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins from your body and prevent dehydration, which can make muscle soreness even worse.
‘After a long and strenuous run, the goal is to replace lost fluids, carbohydrates and proteins in order to speed up recovery time and be ready for the next workout,’ says James.
‘Try to drink around 500ml in the first 30 minutes after your run and keep gulping every five to 10 minutes until you have reached your target.
‘Many people chose sports drinks such as Lucozade Sport or Powerade after a strenuous exercise as it restores electrolytes and glucose.
‘As tempting as it is to meet up with friends and family for a celebratory drink, try to avoid choosing an alcoholic beverage immediately after the race.
‘You need to focus first on replacing the salts you’ve lost through sweating and re-hydrating your body. In reality, water is the best option for this!’
Food is one of the most effective ways to aid muscle recovery.
Just make sure your eating the right things. A nutritious balanced meal is going to be much kinder on your body than a greasy takeaway.
‘After such an intense training period and hitting a massive fitness goal, many people understandably look forward to their post-race feast. My advice to clients is to eat a small snack within the first 30-60 minutes post-race,’ says James.
‘Eat a small snack within the first 30-60 minutes post-race’ (Picture: Getty)‘Save the big meal for later in the day when your appetite returns, and you can enjoy that celebration.
‘The time immediately after the race is more about getting in about 200 to 300 easily-digestible calories from carbohydrates and protein to maintain blood sugar levels, replenish muscle glycogen, and repair muscle tissue.’
Gentle exercise the day after
The day after the marathon, your body is likely to be in pain. It can be tempting to lie on the sofa all day – or throw yourself back into running in an attempt to shake off the pain.
Ideally, you want to be somewhere in the middle of these two strategies. Movement is good, but it needs to be gentle.
‘One of the most common mistakes made by marathon runners is to get back to strenuous training too soon,’ explains James.
‘The 26.2 miles really takes a toll on your body and you need to allow your muscles time to replenish fluids and energy lost and recover from the demands of the race.
‘I advise clients to do some light walking and stretching the day after the race, and only re-introduce cardio activities such as running or cross-fit in the next few weeks when it feels comfortable.
‘Having said that, everyone’s recovery is different – so just listen to your body and let it be your lead.’
Try hot yoga for muscle recovery
If you’re looking for a gentle, soothing form of exercise to help ease your aching muscle – hot yoga could help.
Stretch and recoverAny sort of exercise puts the body under stress. As such, rest days are crucial to allow your body time and space to adapt.
A yoga practice is an ideal rest day activity.
Muscle recoveryRepetitive motion, such as running, tends to shorten muscles – hot yoga is great to help maintain range of motion, release muscle tension and generally counteract the effects of training.
Hotpod Yoga pods are heated to a comfortable 37 degrees, which is warm enough to help ease you into poses and stretch safely, without being overwhelming.
Running is as much a mental exercise as a physical one.
When practising hot yoga, there are a number or factors at play in order to help build the mental focus and awareness required.
Strong CoreRunning is not solely about legs. Rather it is a coordinated whole-body effort which requires a strong core to implement.
Yoga involves awareness and engagement of the core throughout, building a strong core over time.
Improved Flexibility Yoga develops flexibility which is the foundation for efficient movement of all four limbs and can help with injury prevention.
Nick Higgins, co-founder, Hotpod Yoga
Look after your feet
Don’t be surprised if you peel off your running socks to find that your feet are blistered, battered and bruised.
It’s totally normal. But that doesn’t make it pleasant. James has some ideas of how you can give your toes some TLC:
‘Everyone’s heard the horror stories about the “body bashing” you get during a marathon.
‘So, if you experience bruised toe nails, heel blisters, hard, calloused skin on your feet or skin chaffing – your body will definitely need some post-race love and care.
‘Pounding the pavement can really take it out on your feet, so you could try an at-home treatment such as Footner Exfoliating Socks, which makes use of the skin’s natural process to rid your feet from dead skin build-up and can leave you with baby-soft feet in a quick and easy 60-minute application.’
‘Do some light walking and stretching the day after the race’ (Picture: Getty)Soak in a warm bath
Submerging yourself in warm water will help to increase blood flow, stimulate healing, and relax sore, tight muscles. So get the water running as soon as you get in from the race.
‘A hot bath with Epsom Bath Salts can help to relax muscles and detoxify the body,’ says James.
‘The magnesium in the salts can help reduce inflammation and improve muscle function, whilst the sulphates improve nutrient absorption and can help with flushing out toxins.
‘The recommended use per bath is 300-500g or 1-2 large full mugs. Just soak for 10 minutes while it works its magic.’
Quick recovery tips
Low impact movement – although you may not feel like it, it is suggested that a recovery run is beneficial. However, by doing this, there is still a high amount of ground force and impact. An alternative would be a slow cycle on a stationary bike to encourage blood flow, without impact.
Bathe in Epsom Salt – the magnesium in Epsom Salt will aid recovery and provide soothing and repair of the muscles.
Eat foods that help with inflammation – by adding turmeric as seasoning to foods such as rice and fish (high in Omega 3) will decrease muscle inflammation.
Gentle massage – this could even be performed yourself if needed. A massage will again encourage blood flow and therefore, drain the lactic acid whilst bringing fresh blood to your muscles and tissues.
Hydrate – after doing any exercise your body will have lower amounts of essential salts. Water is the best thing I can suggest as this will improve circulation and digestion. We could all improve our hydration and benefit in many ways as a result.
Sleep – the repairing of muscles and surrounding tissue can be accelerated if you have better rest. Ensure you get a good night sleep regardless.
Marvin Burton, head of fitness at Anytime Fitness UK
Book a massage
After running a marathon you deserve some luxury self-care – and a sports massage could be the perfect way to go.
Many long distance runners swear by regular massages for easing inflammation, improving blood flow and reducing muscle tightness.
‘Having a massage can improve circulation and also help to loosen muscles and reduce pains caused by delayed onset muscle soreness,’ explains James.
‘Occasionally referred to as a “runner’s MOT”, a sports massage will focus more on the areas that athletes suffer from after a workout and can even help to prevent injury to the muscles caused by overuse.’
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