Yesterday was the ING New York City Marathon. Mike Silverman, Physical Therapist, has some tips to help with recovery after a big race. “In recovery, marathon runners need to listen carefully to their bodies so they don’t injure themselves,” says Silverman. “Extensive training should have provided runners with a good idea of how their body works. Runners should take everything they’ve learned while training and apply it to taking proper care of their body after the marathon?they will feel better, faster.”
- Eating the day after race is important. Try to stay away from enormous meals. Eat small amounts of nutrient-rich foods every 2 hours. Good meals could be steak, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Berries, chocolate or yogurt parfaits are good desserts. Chicken stir fry with loads of vegetables is an excellent lunch.
- Ice your muscles often. After returning home from the race, ice your muscles with ice packs or (preferably) an ice bath. Ice baths soothe microscopic muscle damage and inflammation. Sit in a 54-60-degree (Fahrenheit) ice bath for 6-12 minutes. 30-60 minutes afterward, take a warm shower.
- Stretch correctly after the race. During the next day, perform light stretching and a light warm-up (biking or a warm shower).
- Get a massage a few days after the race. Use caution during the first 48 hours after the race, as your muscles are very sensitive. Make sure it is a flushing (light) massage and be sure the therapist knows that you just ran a marathon.
- Perform low-impact, low-intensity exercise after the race. Only start exercising when you are feeling ready. This can take up to a month. Cycling, the elliptical, and exercises in the pool (swimming, underwater running) are ideal;
- Wait 5-7 days after the race before running again. Begin with decreased intensity on soft surfaces and don’t run more than 25 percent of your peak weekly mileage. A good rule of thumb is: perform one week of reduced intensity training for every hour you run.
Michael Silverman, PT, MSPT, USATF-1, is a physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery‘s James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center, specializing in rehabilitation for runners and other performance athletes. He has a special interest in running-form analysis, which he performs at the Tisch Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.