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  • Writer's pictureAngela Botha

Best Recovery strategies after a marathon ( or half marathon)

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Completing a marathon is an incredible achievement, but it can also take a significant toll on the body. After running 26.2 miles, it is crucial to prioritise recovery to allow your body to heal and prevent potential injuries. In this blog, we will discuss some of the best recovery strategies following a marathon, including self-help strategies and the benefits of seeking professional help from a physiotherapist.

  1. Rest and Rehydrate

After completing a marathon, it's essential to rest and allow you


r body to recover fully. Resting includes sleeping, taking time off from work or other strenuous activities, and avoiding any high-impact exercises for at least a week. Additionally, it is crucial to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes lost during the race.


Try and drink 30ml for every kilogram you weigh each 24 hours as a minimum ie 60kg = 60 x 0.3 = 1.8 litres water


Avoid energy drinks high in caffeine and sugar as these can actually dehydrate you.

Some popular energy drinks that are marketed as sports drinks and designed for rehydration include Gatorade, Powerade, and Lucozade Sport. These drinks typically contain a blend of carbohydrates, electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium), and sometimes vitamins and other nutrients.


However, it's worth noting that while these drinks can be effective at rehydration, they also tend to be high in sugar and calories. If you're watching your sugar or calorie intake, you may want to consider a lower-calorie sports drink or even plain water with added electrolytes.


Ultimately, the best energy drink for rehydration will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It's always a good idea to read the labels and nutritional information of any drinks you're considering and to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.


2.Stretching and Foam Rolling


Stretching is an effective way to help

prevent muscle soreness and improve flexibility. After a marathon, gentle stretching can help reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Foam rolling is also a great way to help reduce muscle tension and promote recovery. Focus on rolling the calves, quads, and hamstrings.


3. Nutrition


Eating a well-balanced diet can aid in the recovery process. Focus on consuming foods that are rich in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Protein is particularly important for muscle recovery and repair, and carbohydrates are essential for replenishing glycogen stores. It is also essential to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which provide vitamins and minerals necessary for recovery.


The best meal to eat after a marathon should include a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to help replenish your glycogen stores, repair muscle damage, and reduce inflammation. Here are some food options that can help you achieve this:

  1. Quinoa salad with grilled chicken and mixed vegetables - Quinoa is a great source of carbohydrates and protein, while chicken provides protein and healthy fats. Mixed vegetables provide vitamins and minerals for recovery.

  2. Grilled salmon with sweet potato and steamed broccoli - Salmon is a great source of protein and healthy fats, while sweet potato provides carbohydrates and fiber. Broccoli is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to help reduce post-exercise inflammation.

  3. Brown rice bowl with black beans, avocado, and grilled vegetables - Brown rice provides carbohydrates and fiber, while black beans provide protein and fiber. Avocado is a great source of healthy fats, and grilled vegetables provide vitamins and minerals.

  4. Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce and lean ground beef - Whole wheat pasta provides carbohydrates and fiber, while lean ground beef provides protein and healthy fats. Tomato sauce is a good source of vitamins and antioxidants.

  5. Greek yogurt with mixed berries and granola - Greek yogurt is high in protein and provides probiotics for gut health. Mixed berries provide antioxidants and fiber, while granola provides carbohydrates and healthy fats.


4. Recovery Massage


A recovery massage is a great way to reduce muscle soreness, improve blood flow, and speed up the recovery process. A qualified physiotherapist can provide a deep tissue massage, which can help release tension in the muscles and increase flexibility.

At Physiolistic we can also combine massage with TECAR therapy which further reduces muscle soreness and increases blood flow to the tissue.


5.Cold Therapy

Applying cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and soreness in the muscles. After a marathon, take an ice bath or use an ice pack on sore muscles to reduce swelling and promote healing.


At Physiolistic you can rent the Physiolab or CTC 7 device which produces ice and compressions and facilitates a speedy recovery and reduction in soreness


6. Gradual Return to Exercise


After taking time off from exercise, it's important to gradually reintroduce activity. Start with gentle exercises, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, and gradually increase intensity over time. It's essential to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard too soon, which can lead to injuries.



When to seek Professional Help from a Physiotherapist


Physiotherapists are experts in movement and can help you recover from a marathon safely and effectively. A physiotherapist can provide personalized treatment plans to address any injuries or imbalances you may have, as well as advice on proper exercise progression and injury prevention. They may use a range of techniques, including manual therapy, exercise therapy, and electrotherapy, to help reduce pain and promote recovery. In conclusion, completing a marathon is a significant achievement, but it can also take a toll on the body.


Prioritising recovery is essential to allow your body to heal and prevent potential injuries. Self-help strategies such as rest, hydration, stretching, nutrition, and cold therapy are effective in promoting recovery. Seeking professional help from a physiotherapist can also be beneficial in reducing pain, promoting healing, and preventing future injuries. Also if the pain is not settling within a week or is getting worse, make sure you seek professional advice.


By prioritising recovery, you can return to your running routine feeling strong and ready for your next challenge.


Contact Physiolistic today to book your recovery massage



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