How to Recover after a Marathon

Recovery After Marathon

One of the most physically and mentally rewarding things an individual can do is complete a marathon. Whether you’re a running pro or amateur, training for and then competing in a marathon is a wonderful way to get in excellent shape and develop the mental discipline necessary to design and accomplish goals. Although there are many systems and strategies you’ll need to utilize to make the most of your marathon experience, one of the most important will be learning how to recover. By accessing and implementing recovery techniques, you can decrease post-race discomfort and get back to your life without having to grapple with painful injuries. Read the quick reference guide found below to attain the tips and tricks necessary for recovery optimization:

1. Don’t Stop Moving

One of the best tips to help you recover properly after a marathon is to keep moving. Although you may be tempted to sit down and rest after all of the running you’ve just done, it’s much better to slow down gradually. By slowly moving down from a sprint to a jog and then finally walking, you enable the heart to transition properly. Also note that you should walk for a minimum of 10-15 minutes following the race.

2. Change Clothes

Once the marathon is over, it’s important for runners to change clothes. At this point, your current clothing is likely covered in your perspiration and possibly dirt or other elements from the natural setting. This is why runners need to change into dry, warm clothing as quickly as possible. Also be sure that you change out of the shoes that you ran in. Although shoe comfort is important, do not change into flip-flops or sandals.

3. Have A Small Snack

Eating is a part of the recovery process for runners because it provides the body with the energy necessary to complete its metabolic processes. Your ideal post-recovery meal will be a small snack. The snack should be eaten within 30-60 minutes of you crossing the finish line. Be sure that you do not attempt to consume a large meal right after the race. This is too taxing on a body that has just been subjected to hours of running. After your first small snack, you will be able to gradually increase your food intake as the day goes on. Listen to your body’s natural hunger signals and avoid stuffing yourself. Instead, aim to have a small snack every two to three hours.

4. Drink

In addition to having a small snack, runners should have a sports drink once the race is over. Doing so will help replenish the body’s electrolyte stores.

5. Do Not Get A Massage Immediately After The Race

Runners should wait at least 24 hours before they have a massage. Also avoid deep massages. Light massages will be sufficient. If you do opt to get a massage, be sure that you inform the massage therapist that you have just run a marathon. She or he can then customize techniques to help facilitate your holistic recovery.

6. Be Smart With Your Stretching

In many cases, runners feel inclined to start stretching immediately after the race. However, it’s critically important that you wait for about 2-6 hours before you start stretching. In so doing, you optimize muscle recovery and reduce the likelihood of bodily damage. To facilitate this process, make sure that your stretching is very light following the race. Also remember to continue stretching during the days that follow the marathon.

7. Listen To Your Body

Make sure that you are really listening to your body following a marathon. As many running experts and coaches will tell you, you should expect to feel a bit sore right after your race. However, individuals who experience ongoing swelling or pain should know that this may be the body indicating that something is seriously amiss.

8. Deal With Muscle Pain

In the event that you do experience muscle pain, you can utilize the RICE method to effectively correct the problem. RICE is an acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Once the race is complete, you can ice your muscle with an ice bath or ice packs. Ice baths are preferable and really help ease muscle inflammation and damage. As such, it’s a good idea to sit in an ice bath with a temperature between 54-60 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6-12 minutes. Once you arise from the ice bath, wait about 30-60 minutes and then take a warm shower.

How Long Does Marathon Recovery Take?

There is much debate regarding how long it takes for runners to properly recover from a marathon. At this historical moment, there is not a lot of research covering the issue. Back in the 1970s, the “days-for-miles” recovery theory was quite prevalent. This theory matched days for miles such that an individual who ran a 26-mile marathon would require 26 days for a complete recovery. While this theory gained prevalence, it lacked strong scientific backing.

Although there is still no clear consensus regarding how long recovery takes, there is some general information and guidelines that you should be aware of. For example, you can facilitate short-term recovery by consuming protein following your marathon. Athletes who do so are able to refill their glycogen stores within a 24 hour period. However, it will take about seven days for your muscles to regain full strength and stop hurting.

The important thing to remember in terms of recovery is that there is no one-size-fits-all principle regarding how to do it and how long it will take. For example, many researchers have used blood samples from athletes and then examined enzymes that could indicate muscle damage as well as proteins associated with inflammation. However, findings between individuals were highly variable and were not always directly related to the recovery process. For this reason, recovery remains an at least somewhat mysterious process.

Although marathon recovery processes vary from individual to individual, it is interesting and enlightening to consider the activity and experiences of the country’s best marathon runners. For example, Ryan Hall set a record in completing the Boston Marathon in April of last year. In October of the same year, he completed the Chicago Marathon. Then in January, Hall competed in the Olympic qualifying marathon. He made the team. This information seems to indicate that some professional athletes may have trained their bodies in a manner that promotes fast, highly effective recovery that precludes them from needing extensive breaks between races.

Basic Guidelines For Marathon Recovery

Although recovery is a highly individualistic process, there are some basic guidelines you can use to facilitate optimal recovery. First, remember not to compete in a race for at least 1 to 2 months after your marathon. It will typically take 3 weeks to fully recover after the race.

Marathon Recovery: Days 1-3

During the first three days after a race, be sure that you soak in a hot bath for a period of 10-15 minutes. Also be sure that you stretch well. If you are not familiar with stretching techniques, you can consult with a therapist.

The first three days of the recovery process can be optimized and expedited by you eating properly. Doing so will help ensure that your muscles are thoroughly repaired. One of the best foods to eat to facilitate recovery is fruit. This is the case because fruits contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. You should also opt for food items that are high in carbohydrates and proteins.

Marathon Recovery: Days 4-7

During days 4-7, you will likely be returning to your running routine. Make sure that you start with a decreased intensity and that you are running on soft surfaces. During this time, you should not be running more than 25% of your peak mileage. Days 4-7 should be marked by an emphasis on your blood flow, not your fitness level. With this idea in mind, be sure that you’re performing low-intensity, low-impact cardio exercises. Swimming and cycling are two excellent examples of cardiovascular activity that you can engage in. During this period, you should also make sure that you stretch properly and allow yourself to soak in a bathtub of warm water for 10-15 minutes.

Marathon Recovery: Days 7-15

During days 7-15, you can run further. However, don’t push yourself too hard or you may overdo it.

Marathon Recovery: Days 16+

Once you reach day 16, you can slowly return your regular running pace and distance. However, be sure that you are bringing things down to a slow stride for several minutes during your runs. When you follow these simple instructions, you will likely find that you are able to recover properly and perform well in your next race.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation: A Brief Overview

The Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation is an NYC clinic. The clinic was founded back in 2007 and emphasizes the use of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). The DNS methodology provides faster, longer, and deeper results than traditional approaches to recovery. As one of the country’s most advanced runners clinic in the nation, DNR is known for operating in excellence and expedience. The clinic is led by Dr. Kalika who is certified in the biomechanical analysis of sports and running injuries. His passion for the field led him to establish his own motion and gait analysis lab. The synergistic use of cutting edge technologies in the lab setting contributes to the clinic’s efficacy and exceptionalism. In addition to his work with the lab, Dr. Kalika has performed over two thousand tendon procedures and is an active member of the International Society of Medical Shockwave Treatment (ISMST).


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

Buy now 3D Gait
Payment Success
Request Telehealth Request Telehealth Request in office visit Book now