Congratulations! You’ve finished all your exercise and training, now what?

Athletes of all fitness levels can benefit from doing recovery after any type of exercise which includes training and events. All of these means of recovery encourage the removal of metabolites and waste products away from the muscles whilst also encouraging delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles.

Just taking the time to include a few simple methods of recovery as part of your post marathon program can decrease recovery time, reduce muscle soreness and get you back to training faster.

These quick tips include:

  • Active recovery / warm down – Having completed your activity (training, event, sport) your warm down can be anywhere from 5-15 minutes of light activity such as jogging, riding or swimming – whichever suits you best.
  • Stretching – Once you have warmed down, stretch the muscles you have used in that training session. For the lower half of the body, you may include calf, hamstrings, glutes, quads and hip flexors. For the upper body, include arms, back and shoulders. If in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to do a good stretching session including all the major muscles from the upper and lower body. Foam rolling is also another way in which you can aid the major muscle groups.
  • Compression garments – Compression garments can be worn post training/event speeding up recovery time, reducing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and improving circulation. A good website to have a look at is the 2XU site:
  • Ice baths – Ice baths aid recovery by decreasing the temperature of tissues which constricts local blood vessels reducing inflammation. If followed by warm water, the blood vessels dilate allowing lactic acid and waste products to be flushed from the area which helps reduce DOMS. Here are two methods:
    1. Stand in an ice bath with waist deep water (2-10oC) for 1 minute followed by 1 minute out of the bath. Do 1-3 times.
    2. Alternate between cold (2-10oC) and hot (37-40oC) showers or baths for 1 minute each time. Complete 1-3 times.

    Athletes who are doing intense exercise such as marathons, triathlons, iron man, football or sports tournaments can benefit greatly from ice baths.

  • Soft tissue therapy – Myotherapy and remedial massage. Training can lead to increased tone (or tightness) in the muscles which can reduce your ability to deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells as well as remove waste. Regular soft tissue therapy helps reduce muscle tightness and any irregularities in the soft tissue. Usually about 2-3 days after an event is the best time to get treatment.


(Takahashi, 2002) Authors: Takahashi, Tatsuhisa; Okada, Akiyoshi; Hayano, Junichiro; Tamura, Toshiyo

Source: Frontiers of Medical & Biological Engineering, Volume 11, Number 4, 2001 , pp. 249-259(11)