As we come into warmer weather in Australia, marathon season starts to heat up. Physiotherapist Brad Beer shares his 6 top recovery tips if you’re running a half or marathon this running season.
Every year many runners will be make their debut in both the full and half marathon distances. If this is you, you will experience the thrill of finishing an event after months of preparation with loved ones & strangers cheering you on from the sidelines. There are few better feelings. Alternately you may be a seasoned competitor of numerous half or full marathon events.
Irrespective of whether you are a debut runner or otherwise, often in the excitement of things you can forget to look after your body immediately post-race and in the following few days. The consequences of ‘dropping the ball’ on a good recovery include; injury risk, heightened fatigue, feelings of greater moodiness, and of course extreme muscle soreness!
If you have a marathon or half marathon debut coming up the following 6 tips will help you bounce back the coming week.
- Drink lots: Whilst obvious, many runners are unaware of just how much fluid can be lost. Unlike the pools of sweat that are visible when exercising on a stationary bike, when running, the convection from the wind evaporates a large portion of a runner’s sweat, meaning that much of the fluid we lose is invisible. It is possible to lose litres of fluid across a half or full marathon. When you get home weigh yourself after the event and if you knew your body weight pre-race you will be able to determine how much fluid you lost. Signs of ongoing dehydration can be headaches, concentrated urine, and feelings of being ‘washed out’. Vertical cracks/indentations in the lips can also be signs of a dehydrated body.
- Have a light warm down: A light warm down is important even if you do not feel like it. Walking around the race precinct is a good way of doing this. 5-10 minutes can make a big difference to how your body responds 1-2 days post event when DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) kicks in at its worst.
- Get a light massage: Treat yourself to massage services immediately post -race if they are available. A 5-10 minute light massage on the legs can work wonders.
- Use compression garments:If you have some compression socks, pants, or garments when you get home or immediately post -race pop them on. This can help to reduce muscle soreness, and has been validated in the research as a legitimate recovery enhancer.
- Get a post event massage during the week following. It will typically take 1-2 days for DOMS to kick in. Get a remedial massage from day 2 onward after a major running event. This is particularly crucial if you are looking to run or participate in another event soon after. Look for an accredited remedial massage therapist for the best therapeutic results.
- The wall hamstring and recovery stretch – legs up! Putting your legs up the wall facilitates great venous and lymphatic drainage and is a terrific tool in a runner’s post race recovery efforts. You can stretch in this position for anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes. Move your bottom closer to the wall for best effect and a stronger stretch of the hamstrings (caution if you are suffering an acute episode of lower back pain this maybe provocative for your pain).
Happy recovery and now for planning your next running challenge….
For information on what DOMS is and what you can do about it, see this article from fellow Physiotherapist Andrew Ilief here.
Brad Beer is a physiotherapist, author and the Founder of a company called POGO Physio.