How to Deal With Pain After a Marathon

The Boston Marathon is underway, and although the winners have already crossed the finish line, thousands of other runners will soon complete their own 26.2 mile trek. Even if you’ve trained for months, running a marathon is sure to leave you feeling aches and pains in the coming days. To combat post-race pain, we’ve come up with a few tips to help prevent and alleviate pain after a long run.

Right After The Race

Although you’ll likely be looking for family and friends after you cross the finish line, there are also some steps you’ll want to take to within a few minutes of finishing. The first thing you’ll want to do is refuel, but it’s easier said than done. Your body isn’t going to be able to handle a big meal, but if you can get your hands on a banana, orange or energy bar, you’ll be able to help prevent post-race cramping. Once you’re back home, consider taking a cold bath to help destress your muscles. After that, you’re due for some much needed R and R, but try to get up and walk around a bit to keep your legs loose.

Marathon tips

The First Few Days After The Race

You’re going to be pretty sore in the first few days after your marathon. To keep your muscles loose, soak in a warm bath for 10-15 minutes every day, and do some light stretching once you’re out of the tub. Feel free to use a muscle roller to massage your muscles as well. As for nutrition, reach for fruits, proteins and a few carbs. The fruit will help boost your immune system, and the carbs and protein will help your muscles mend.

A Week After The Race

Now that you’re a week out, you’re probably itching to get back out there and go for a run. If you’ve followed the above tips, you’re probably feeling pretty good, but you’re not quite fully back. The first thing you’ll want to do a week after the race is to continue eating a healthy diet. Avoid a bunch of junk food and stick to fruits, veggies and a balanced diet. Get a lower body massage, pour yourself a warm bath, and soak for 15-20 minutes. Once that’s complete, do some stretches. If everything feels good, feel free to try a short 3-5 mile run.

Those are some good tips to follow, but if you know something is wrong after a race, swing on in to a doctor. A professional will be able to conduct a full examine and tailor a rehab plan to your exact injury.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).

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