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Q&A: How to Recover from Your Marathon

The marathon went great! But today I can barely walk, and walking down stairs is impossible. How long am I going to feel like this, and is there anything I can do to speed the recovery process?


 Congratulations on a great race! But now you’re having trouble walking. This is called DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness—and it hurts! This pain can last a few days after the race or even up to one or two weeks, depending on what you do from here. A marathon is a huge accomplishment as well as a huge stress to the body, and the damage can last up to a month or longer even when the pain goes away. It’s important to have a plan for recovery. Here are a few quick tips you can follow to help reduce the discomfort and get you back on your feet.

Start with active recovery on a stationary bike. Lightly riding for 5-10 minutes can help loosen up the muscles and bring nutrients to them to speed up the recovery process. Next, try lightly foam-rolling to help release knots and fascial restrictions that you have built up over the course of 26.2 miles. Finally, combination of light static stretching and dynamic movement will help restore function and restore range of motion. On Monday, November 4, experts from Hospital for Special Surgery will lead the Recovery Zone at Marathon Pavilion, where they’ll discuss different post-race recovery approaches, lead stretching sessions, and provide consultations.

Nutrition is very important in the recovery process. Make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates to replenish your glucose stores, as well as protein for recovery. Eat a colorful diet meaning fruits and vegetables. This will help bring down inflammation and ensure you are getting all of the nutrients needed for a speedy recovery.

Last but not least, take it easy and don’t overexert yourself. Your immune system can be suppressed after a marathon, so focus on a stress-free environment. Play some relaxing music and smile; the race is over, and you did great!


Jamie Osmak

Jamie Osmak is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a member of the Sports Rehabilitation team at Hospital for Special Surgery’s James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance. He is also a USA Track and Field Level 1 coach and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in exercise science from Rutgers University.

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