If you’re planning to join a marathon in your immediate future, it’s important to arm yourself with necessary knowledge that will help you. It’s important to know what you can do to maximize your performance before and during the run.
Equally as important, is knowing what to do after your run. Post-race fatigue can be tough, especially your first night’s sleep and the initial days that follow (walking up or down stairs is particularly challenging) so what can you do to aid your recovery?
Today, we’ve gathered some top notch advice for you based on our own personal experiences and the tried and tested knowledge of our friendly experts!
1.) Make use of hot AND cold baths/showers/compress
Applying heat to joints can help sore and tightened muscles to relax. Heat also promotes better blood flow and circulation to the area. This helps eliminate any lactic acid or waste buildup. On a psychological front, heat is also fairly reassuring so it has analgesic properties to it. Heat should be applied to the area for 20 minutes (up to three times a day) unless otherwise indicated – as in the case of single-use wraps or patches, which can sometimes be indicated for up to 8 hours of continuous use.
Making use of cold water helps to decrease heart rate and skin temperature. It’s even used to increase muscle oxygenation. Cold water also helps decrease the perception of muscle soreness. It is important to remember that the water should simply be cold and not freezing.
2.) Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
The next few hours after a run, our body’s metabolic processes will slow down, but the recovery process persists. During this time, one of the most important factors to never neglect is constant hydration.
Muscles were meant to be bathed in fluid. Dehydration is the biggest hurdle you can throw into your system because if muscles aren’t flee-floating, lubricated, they start to stiffen and it becomes a painful game of tug-of-war. The biggest loser here would be you.
Muscles need to be like putty: elastic, malleable, and pliable. When a person is nutritionally imbalanced or they’re dehydrated, their tissue will be fibrose. Which means it’ll be chord-like or ropey. So save yourself the pain and drink up and keep it up for the next few days.
3.) Elevate your legs whenever you can
As a runner, elevating the legs after a workout creates a blood inversion. It works to remove stale blood that creates that familiar soreness you might feel after a strenuous workout, which will minimize recovery time and effort in the legs. Reversing the blood flow back toward the heart ultimately makes room for new blood to circulate.
There are three basic ways to elevate the legs. The first is called legs up the wall. This variation can create a stretch down the hamstrings as well as a release of lactic acid. To move into legs up the wall, bring your hips against the wall and bring your feet skyward. A second option is a half shoulder stand. Half shoulder stand uses the same motion of legs up the wall but can be done anywhere. It is a bit more active since it does not rely on the wall for support. To come into your half shoulder stand, lie on your back and bring your legs skyward. A final variation is a shoulder stand. To come into a full shoulder stand, start on your back. Bring your legs up overhead and bring the hands up to support your lower lumbar spine. From here, bring the legs skyward supporting the weight of the body through your forearms. Each of these variations should be held for one to two minutes. Legs up the wall and half shoulder stand are most beneficial if held for three to five minutes.