Muscle SOS: Five rules for marathon recovery

Vada That

As marathon season kicks off and the 40th ASICS Marathon takes to the streets of Greater Manchester on 10 April 2016, there might be more to worry about than just crossing the finish line! Start your marathon recovery on the right foot with five simple and effective solutions from the expert advice behind Manchester’s best city hideaway spa.

You may think the hard work is over. You signed up for a marathon, completed the several months training you needed and finally ran the race. What you might not know is that recovery after a marathon is not only one of the most important aspects of running, but unfortunately also one of the most undervalued.

While muscle soreness is a normal consequence of exercise, running puts a tremendous amount of stress on the feet, ankles, skin, knees, hips and back, which left unattended to could lead to more complicated structural, facial or metabolic issues in coming months. Fortunately when it comes to soothing those sore, achy limbs, Helena Grzesk, Spa Director of The Spa at The Midland, Manchester’s newest multi-award winning, luxury city centre spa, knows a thing or two about taking relaxation seriously…

1. Shower Power

Once you finish running, your body will almost immediately begin to enter recovery mode, so it’s important to keep your blood flowing. Don’t feel guilty about using a little extra water by opting for a contrast shower; the alternation of cold and hot blasts of water on your legs will encourage oxygen rich blood to your muscles, helping flush out excess acid build up.

Top tip! Rub a small amount of tiger balm onto your most over worked muscles. The cool menthol, followed by a warming sensation works effectively in providing instant relief to fatigued muscles.

2. Diet of Champions

A protein-rich diet will help to repair millions of micro-tears your muscles will have accumulated through the heavy impact movement. Be sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and carbohydrates too, as a boost of vitamin C and antioxidants will help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.

Top tip! For the ultimate recovery breakfast I suggest a toasted bagel with generous layers of ham, scrambled eggs and spinach. A side of fresh bananas and blackberries is an extra boost of vitamin E and potassium too!

3. Take it Lightly

Light massage will help loosen your muscles. Don’t be tempted into a deep tissue massage too soon, as this could only further damage fragile cellular structures. Instead, I recommend using gentle circular movements or a light rolling stick to work across sore areas. This will encourage blood flow and help facilitate the healing process, or if you feel up to it a brisk walk or light jog will have a similar effect.

Top tip! Try keeping your moisturiser in the fridge, as the cooling sensation when applied on your skin will help to reduce inflammation and lessen swelling.

4. Time for a Bath

Magnesium plays a key part in post-race muscle regeneration, including oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance. Unfortunately, we lose magnesium when we sweat, which can lead to more severe muscle cramps, fatigue and body aches if a proper recovery is ignored.

Top tip! After one or two days’ post-marathon, try putting a couple of spoonfuls of Epsom Salt into a warm bath – a good soak will allow the body to absorb as much magnesium as it needs in order to relax large muscle groups after intense periods of exercise.

5. Reward Yourself

Although a full body recovery can take anything up to 10-14 days, it’s time to reward yourself for all your hard work and persistence! If you still have areas that are really bothering you or that are injured, book in for a specialised massage.

Top tip! The Spa at The Midland’s Deep Muscle Massage treatment, to ease more localised aches and pains. The concentrated massage will help alleviate deep-seated tension and muscular stress, so you’ll feel back to fighting fit in no time.

The Spa at The Midland / 0845 074 0064/ @SpaattheMidland

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