Marathon Recovery Tips | IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery

Recovery After a Marathon

crowd of runners running in marathon

Finishing a marathon, no matter how long or short it is, is an impressive feat that will test your physical and mental determination. Obviously, this kind of activity will put a serious strain on your body and a proper recovery is of utmost importance. We’re going to cover a number of post-marathon recovery tips that our sports recovery services team designed to help you get back on your feet in no time. And if you’re looking forward to your first full marathon, IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery is available to offer all the support you’ll need to achieve your goals! 

How Long Will Your Post-Marathon Recovery Take?

Unfortunately, there’s no short answer to how long post-marathon recovery will take. Everyone will have different recovery times, and each person will recover differently from race to race. Gender, age, nutrition, distance, course terrain, and even weather on the day of the race can impact recovery. However, it’s advised that everyone should spend three to seven days in post-marathon recovery before starting to train again. This will allow your body to recover from the stress and damage. Ultimately, you will be able to tell how your body is doing after each marathon, but if you’re sore or tired, don’t push yourself. Every runner should take no fewer than three days off, with most running coaches saying no less than a week off for marathon recovery. 

Marathon Recovery Tips

Below we’ll cover a number of different marathon recovery tips to help you get the most out of your recovery after a marathon.

  • Start Recovery Immediately: One of the most important points is making sure you start recovering from the marathon as soon as you cross the finish line. Treat post-marathon recovery as part of the same training you started to prepare for the race, rather than something you can forgo because you feel good now.
  • Don’t Idle: After you pass the finish line, spend 10–15 minutes walking rather than standing around or sitting down immediately. This helps move the toxins that accumulates in your muscles with use. 
  • Refuel Immediately: Your body has been burning through carbohydrates and protein at an accelerated rate to keep up with your desire to cross that finish line, and so getting a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein refuel is important. Even a milkshake can help you get started on that marathon recovery road.
  • Hydrate: Water is vital, and you’ll burn through it faster than you think as you’re running. As a result, being adequately hydrated during your marathon recovery is important.
  • Change clothes: Getting out of your sweat-filled clothes into dry clothes can reduce your chances of shivering, which can cause muscle contractions that lead to further muscle damage.
  • Skip the NSAIDs: Anti-inflammatory medicines like Aleve, Excedrin, and Ibuprofen can put excess stress on your liver, kidneys, and GI tract while preventing your muscles from recovering properly. Inflammation is, unfortunately, part of the healing process, to help signal the body to send new blood flow, and therefore new healing factors.
  • Skip the Celebratory Beer: Alcohol can dehydrate you faster, and you’ve already used up a ton of your body’s water in the race. While one drink won’t cause you serious harm, go easy on alcoholic beverages if you go out to celebrate your marathon finish.
  • Recovery Compression Boots: Elite athletes all over the globe use compression boots as a great way to start marathon recovery. These help with circulation and they drain the lymphatic system. We have Normatec Boot ready and waiting for you at our Sports Recovery clinics!
  • Keep Up Active Recovery: Light exercise, such as walking, swimming, or riding an exercise bike are great ways to promote your post-marathon recovery. Light, low-impact exercises can help your muscles get back to where they were before the race. 
  • Massages: Another great way to make sure your muscles are recovering properly is with the help of a sports massage. At IMPACT Physical Therapy and Sports Recovery we have physical therapists and athletic trainers standing by to offer therapeutic massage tune ups to help you increase your circulation, mobility, and range of motion. 

Trust IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery For Your Therapy Needs

We will work with you to make sure that your post-marathon recovery is smooth and quick, no matter where you are. IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery has therapy locations throughout the Chicagoland area, designed to make it easier than ever for you to get the proper help you need when it comes to physical therapy. We can help with recovery from injury and post marathon sprains and strains utilizing recovery modalities including, cold water immersion, compression therapy, cupping therapy, dry needling and various soft tissue massage techniques. Request an appointment today, and let us get you on the path to recovery.