If you can try to walk right after the race. I swear by movement heals. Cool shower or bath to help inflammation. Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate, A secret meal is Vietnamese Pho soup, a great combination of fluids, sodium, protein and carbohydrates. The next few day light cardio if you can. Be prepared for DOMS (Delayed Muscle Onset Soreness). A deep tissue massage is well deserved!
I would recommend definitely hydrating (replenish lost fluids), plenty of rest (recovery is a key) and stretching (post exercise stretching will help reduce soreness). Those would be my three keys to post-marathon recovery. And of course, eating well 🙂
This is a reprint of an answer I just posted. It fits this question as well.
The first step in recovery from any endurance competition is to address any acute injuries sustained in the event. If there were no injuries directly related to the event, the focus should move to dealing with chronic issues/discomfort (things that are regularly dealt with for that client). Next is to address nutrition and hydration. This will depend on the individuals experience in any particular event and the pre-event nutrition/hydration program design. These are all things done immediately upon finishing the event.
The program of activity/exercise could include reduced volume, reduced intensity, ROM for all joints, stretching, myofascial release, massage, implementing the use of ice (for acute or chronic injury, muscle soreness, any inflamation, etc.), and any number of other modalities. Availability of recovery options (ice tanks, therapuetic water jets, muscle stimulation unit, laser treatment, etc.) will often dictate what you do. Use any new option very conservatively and within scope of knowledge/practice. The client’s feedback on any recovery strategy will guide you as well.
This is another one of those questions that is dependent on multiple factors, including the trainer’s abilities/knowledge and the client’s individual needs. We should be approaching each client as separate individual. We can use client comparison and overlap of program design, but should not use the same program design with all clients. The chance of all clients needing the same recovery strategy is highly unlikely. There will be significant differences and it is our job to know how to determine these differences to optimize each clients program. The question we should ask ourselves is, “Am I doing the very best for this client?”