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Whether having covered a partial or full marathon, the immense stress placed on the body during this bout of endurance activity cannot be taken lightly. Due to the exceeding demands placed on physiological functions such as the musculoskeletal, cellular and immune system, post marathon recovery measures are crucial.
Implement a planned recovery strategy can help individuals bounce back faster and stronger.
Right after crossing the finish line, it is advisable to continue pacing around for at least 10 to 15 minutes. This is because, all that running would have channeled considerable blood flow to the legs, cooling down through slow walking will encourage normal blood circulation and prevent muscle cramping.
Eat well and drink up
Even though many might not feel hungry immediately after the run, it is still beneficial to replenish the energy depleted system by snacking on something small and easily digestible. Fast energy releasing foods such as energy bars, bananas or sports drinks are great post run nutrition to consider.
As the appetite begins to normalize, meals that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates and multi- vitamins will benefit muscle repair as well as boost the immune system. Avoid foods that are fatty, deep fried or loaded with sugar as they might wreck the digestive system and essentially undo all the efforts put in throughout the race.
Keep the fluids coming, drink up and make sure all signs of dehydration are quelled. A healthy intake of water encourages better blood circulation, which in turn, helps the musculoskeletal system efficiently receive nutrients, flush out toxins and by-products. Glucose or energy drinks might seem to be the go-to hydration solution for many, but, the high sugar content can be a concern too.
Keeps things dry
As the immune system dips after the run, it is important not to expose the body to elements that might exacerbate the onset of sicknesses such as a cold or flu. Prepare a dry set of clothes to change into after the race, towel dry and avoid air-conditioning.
Avoid vigorous training in the next 5 to 7 days and allow the body recover. Make sure to clock 7 to 10 hours of nightly sleep as snoozing provides a conducive condition for the body to repair itself. However, completely assuming couch potato status for the days following the race will only prolong sore muscles. Light exercises such as brisk walking, light cycling, swimming, stairs climbing or simple bodyweight workouts can help to prevent stiffness in the joints and muscles.
Rubbing your woes away
Consider some light forms of massage immediately after the run in-order to loosen tense muscles, but try to avoid overly heavy rubs as this might aggravate injuries picked up during the journey, especially those that go unnoticed or not immediately felt.
Engage deep tissue massages about one or two days after. This massage technique focuses on gradual, heavier strokes which are meant to address strains and soreness by targeting the deeper layers of muscles.
By : Alvin Ho
B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)