Recovery Tips Post Marathon

If you ran the marathon this past weekend in Toronto, you are most likely experiencing some serious delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) today.  After intense training or competition, DOMS will kick in about 24-48hrs after exercise and can cause quite a bit of discomfort and aggravation. While there is no way to stop DOMS (and you wouldn’t want to completely eliminate it, as it triggers the positive adaptations that make you stronger and fitter), there are strategies you can use to help control it after your next race.

Here are some tips to help control the DOMS next time you push yourself to the limit.

1)    Alternating Cold/Hot Shower

The old adage after intense training is to take the plunge into a freezing cold ice bath to cool inflammation. Unfortunately, the research doesn’t clearly support its effectiveness (and most people hate doing it!). Here is a better option… get in the shower and after a few minutes of hot water, turn it to cold for 30-60 seconds. Then alternate back to hot for 2-3 minutes. Try 3-5 rounds and be sure to finish with cold. The contrast in temperature will help constrict and dilate the blood vessels and help to flush out lactic acid to speed recovery.

2)    Compression Pants

The research around compression gear has been growing rapidly over the past few years and it’s showing some real promise for supporting recovery. A recent study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning showed that wearing compression socks for 48 hours after a marathon showed significant improvement in functional recovery. Also, another study showed compression gear was able to reduce perceived muscle soreness post-marathon (although, it did not reduce inflammatory markers).

3)    Curcumin

The most common approach for athletes after intense training or competition is to pop a painkiller to curb the pain. Unfortunately, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been shown to cause damage to the lining of your gut (i.e. leaky gut), stomach ulcers, and heavily tax your liver and kidneys. As an alternative, you can use herbal COX-2 inhibitors (the same mechanism used by ibuprofen and naproxen to stop inflammation), like the medicinal herb turmeric and its active constituent curcumin, to cool excessive inflammation. Take it regularly after your big race for 4-5 days and it will help to dampen the excessive inflammatory response.

Follow these simple tips after your next race or when peaking for competition to help accelerate recovery, reduce pain and discomfort, and improve your performance in the long-term.


Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND, CISSN, CSCS


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