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?”
I agree with Riya. It’s the advice I use for myself (marathoner and triathlete). And the advice I give to clients. The other thing I recommend is foam roller work/stretching. It really works to release the lactic acid build up in the muscles, release the tension build up in the tendons (especially the it band in runners) and fascia, and relax the muscles themselves. There are lots of YouTube vides showing you what to do. The great thing too, is the foam roller can be added into your next marathon training plan to help you through out the training.
Within the hour right after finishing the marathon, eat and drink to rehydrate and refuel your carbo stores. Keep moving and stretching to avoid blood pooling in your extremeties (legs) which reduces blood to your core/head, as it’s easiest to get dizzy or cramping if you don’t.
Wait at least an hour to do those things above before you indulge in the free post-race massages at the event, otherwise, you might cramp up on the table while getting your massage.
Same day/evening, or next day, when you’re mostly recovered but still sore, is a good time to get an ice bath for your legs or whole body if you wish. Ice is good at reducing inflammation as your leg muscles will have many microtears from the extreme workout you just finished, and will help you recover faster. As I’m a spa junkie, I like to go to spas (especially Korean spas) where there are cold pools and warm jacuzzis and alternate between those to improve circulation, then to just relax in the spa.
Within 1-2 days after the marathon is a good time to get a massage too. Deep Tissue is good if it works for you. Or relaxing Swedish is fine (medium/firm) if you can feel it working your muscles. Including stretches and mobility like in a sports/thai massage is also good keep your joints mobile.
After a marathon, it’s said that it takes up to 3 weeks to recover (1 day for each mile). It’s OK to not run for a few days as you’re recovering. However, I also found that 2 days after the marathon, I recover faster if I start doing a light jog/workout. It may feel tiring and sore at first, but it really gets the muscles moving again, but at a pace that feels OK, and I feel great afterwards.
Good luck / congratulations on your marathon! So when is your next one? Yes, it becomes very addicting! You’ll be even more prepare then 🙂
I’m not an IDEA member (yet); just visiting the site and saw this question. I am an ACE/NASM certified personal trainer, a certified massage therapist, and a frequent marathon runner myself (20 marathons in past 4 years and many more half marathons).