If you're competing in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend races here in Memphis, you're coming to the end of a long and rewarding journey. Your body has done amazing things over the past few months, and it's time to start thinking about recovery.
We'll show you exactly what you can do to have an active recovery following your race so you can feel better and continue to perform your best going forward.
Your body just did something amazing, and it's important that you give it the rest it needs to recover and rebuild. Your joints and muscles need time to recover, so even if you're itching to get back out there and run, you need to be respectful of allowing enough rest. This is a crucial time to listen to your body's feedback and let it guide you.
If you're a seasoned runner then you may not experience quite as much post-race soreness since your body is used to this type of stress. But if you're a newer runner, the days following your race have the potential to be somewhat uncomfortable, especially if you ran a longer distance race. Both types of runners can benefit from a few basic recovery principles and movements to ease soreness and move your body through the recovery period.
Drink plenty of water, eat good food, and get enough sleep! These are always good things, but make sure to prioritize them and give your body some extra love after your race performance. Add protein to your carbs to help your muscles recover, and prepare for the fact that your body may need more sleep than it typically does to restore your energy.
As you start noticing specific muscle groups that may be more sore and tender, foam rolling those specific areas can be helpful. Spend 3-5 minutes focusing on the tender areas and working out initial tightness. Areas that might benefit from attention would be the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. This isn't the time to get aggressive with the foam roller, but some light rolling can help ease tightness.
Static stretching can be helpful to ease your leg tightness after a race. Several times a day, spend some time doing 2-3 reps of 30-second holds for the various muscle groups that you're feeling the most. Ease into the tightness and gently work into any tenderness.
Keep Moving!!! Yes, you just ran a ton of mileage and you might have visions of crashing for the rest of the weekend, but easy movement like short walks and stretching will go a long way to helping your body recover more quickly.
When you cross that finish line, keep walking for a while! Over the next several days, let yourself go on short walks and prioritize easy movement for a more active recovery.
This will help your body get rid of the lactic acid that's built up in your muscles and help you avoid the worst of any stiffness or tightness. Gentle yoga can also be a great option in this stage as you allow your body to go through a range of dynamic stretches.
Here are a few movements that you may find helpful after your race.
Posterior Capsule Stretch
Runners' back can be sore and tight after a race, and some gentle stretch movements can help work out that stiffness and encourage healthy motion. One option is to do do "cat-cow" positions to relax your spine, while not moving into any sharp pain.
Here's another movement that could be helpful:
Thread the Needle
You've come to the end of a long and rewarding journey, and we at 901PT are in your corner to help you stay healthy and strong for the long run.
You can expect soreness and tightness after your race, but if you're experiencing any pain or discomfort that feels like more than the typical post-race soreness, we can help.
Many runners experience overtraining injuries throughout their race training and expect the pain to go away when the race is over. Sometimes it does, but often a more strategic plan of treatment is needed to really deal with the underlying issue.
If you're still experiencing pain that isn't going away within a week or two, that's a good indication that you need more than just rest.
Another way to tell that rest isn't going to solve your pain or tightness is if your familiar pain comes back after a period of rest when you start running again.
Too many people waste valuable time resting only to be frustrated when they get back to running and realize that nothing has changed.
Our running specialists are qualified to diagnose why you may have lingering pain and what it'll take to get back to pain-free running so you can continue to feel your best when you run.
If you have any questions or concerns about these stretches or a particular area of tightness or pain, we'd love to hear what's going on and help you figure out your best next step.
We're in your corner and can get you back to feeling your best when you run.
Fill out the form below if you have questions or concerns, and we'll arrange a free phone consultation.