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Top Tips for Speedy Post-Marathon Recovery

Whether you’re a seasoned runner, or just beginning your running journey, it’s important to not let yourself slide after completing a race. Having a post-marathon recovery plan in place is key to continued health and good running practice. Resting, recovering, healing and getting your body back is just as important as your pre-race training.

Recover after NYC Marathon

Immediately following your completion of the race, and your celebration of course, you are probably experiencing some mix of the following: cold, exhausted, hungry, sore, in pain, achy, headache, and are just starting to recover from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Did you know that for 72 hours after running the marathon, your body is more susceptible to colds and the flu due to elevated cortisol (aka stress) levels?

With the New York City Marathon coming up in November, I wanted to share our updated guide to post-race recovery and tips for staying healthy after completing a marathon. If you’re gearing up to run, whether it’s the full or the half-marathon in NYC this fall, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind.

Everyone’s recovery is different. While one person may be able to get back to running within a week or two, you may need three—and that’s okay. Listen to your body. No matter what your pace, here are 13 strategies you can try that’ll help solidify your marathon recovery…

1. Hydrate

If your marathon race was brutal, rest is absolutely essential. We have patients that cramped at mile 20 and limped the last 6.2 miles across the finish line. One of the most common mistakes I see runners make is running too soon after marathon day—not the best way to recover.

Give yourself 3 to 4 days to allow any inflammation to calm down and DOMS to wear off before getting back into running.

2. Stretch, Foam Roll and Massage

All excellent ideas to work out those sore muscles! But in order to give your muscles time to replenish energy and fluids, wait for 2 to 6 hours after the marathon to stretch and get down with your foam roller. Make sure you go light and gentle on the stretching for a week or so.

A massage may sound like just what you need to kickstart your post-marathon recovery. However, you should wait at least 48 hours before rewarding yourself. If you get a massage in the first 48 hours, you may end up even sorer. At Urban Wellness Clinic we offer Active Release Technique massage which will get your upright and moving, back to yourself in no time!

3. Ice, Ice, Baby

Especially where it hurts, but even if it doesn’t, icing your knees, quads, and feet after a race (20 minutes on, 60 minutes off), is key. Consider soaking in an ice bath in your bathtub for five to 10 minutes. This can go a long way toward fighting inflammation in your legs and speed up your healing. Try these icing tips to get back on your feet fast.

4. Topical Anti-Inflammatories

Mindbody Matrix Topical Cream

OK, I know this will sound slightly whoo whoo but this cream is awesome. I use it for all my muscle aches and soreness. It’s is “bioenergetic cream imprinted with energy frequencies to relieve pain, stress and anxiety.” It works quickly to reduce swelling at the site of the injury, and eliminate pain. Massage the cream onto your calves, the arches of your feet, or anywhere else you hurt.


This non-steroidal anti-inflammatory cream is a popular topical remedy used to treat bruising, muscular strains, wounds, and swelling. It works quickly to repair damaged blood vessels, reduce swelling at the site of the injury, and eliminate pain. Massage into your calves, the arches of your feet, or anywhere else you hurt.

6. Elevate your feet to elevate your soul

Put 5 to 10 minutes into the Legs Up on the Wall yoga pose to reduce swelling. It’ll refresh your circulation, gently stretch your legs, and help you relax and pamper yourself post-race. An added bonus: it helps calm the nervous system into that rest and digest state so you can recover to your fullest potential.

7. Move your body with dynamic functional movement

Your body needs to flush out the lactic acid and inflammation without any pounding on the joints. At Urban Wellness Clinic, we like moves that mimic what we did as babies to counter the linear motion of running: rocking, rolling, and crawling will do a body good and lube up the joints that just took a beating.

This is the most functional primal movement out there to reset your body to its natural movement patterns after pounding the pavement in one direction for 26.2 miles. Each of these moves is done with a breath down into the belly with 360 expansion, a brace and then moving.

8. Normatec Compression Therapy

A great tool to flush out the lactic acid, DOMS, and a natural gentle massage that helps you recover quicker. I typically have our runners wait 1 day after race day and then jump into the Normatec Compression Therapy boots to push out the residual inflammation and swelling caused by pounding the road. It’s gentle, effective, and you can even take a nap while these leggings fill with air, compressing from your ankles up to your hip to push out inflammation.

Our runners love them and say they can’t live without them. We recommend starting with a 30-minute session and 1–2 days later working up to a 60-minute session.

9. Eat to beat inflammation

Don’t use post-marathon recovery time as an excuse to eat junk, even if your body craves it. Rewarding yourself with good, whole foods will help you heal faster. Go for foods with natural anti-inflammatory properties like ginger, cherries, beets, leafy greens, and omega-3 rich foods like walnuts.

Avoid artificial sugar and saturated fat—they work against you. Make sure you get enough protein after the race, we love grass-fed ground beef. A good cup of bone broth to heat up the body and soul, and a high dose of vitamin C for a natural anti-inflammatory. I like to get my high dose Vitamin C through an IV infusion.

10. Sleep is your best recovery tool

We heal when we sleep. The human growth hormone that’s released while you snooze goes the extra mile to repair your muscle tissue and renew your body faster. Whatever you do, don’t be stingy with dreamtime.

11. Cross-training to get the blood flowing

Within 3 to 4 days of racing, some nice, low-impact cross-training will get those endorphins flowing and help with recovery. Try spinning, swimming, and some resistance training to get the blood flowing.

In your first week post-race, cross-train, rest, and gently test your ability to run later in the week (for no more than 30 minutes). In week 2, if all is well, run short and easy distances. If you still hurt, keep cross-training and bide your time.

12. Evaluate and refine your running technique

We at Urban Wellness Clinic we love to use post-marathon recovery time to evaluate and refine the running form for our runners before putting in the miles for their next big race. Using the Pose Method to practice running is how we detect and correct movement errors to help you get back to your peak performance.

13. Hit the road again

Start back at your normal running frequency in week 2 but keep to short distances (no more than an hour). In week 3, run for longer and a bit faster. If all is good, start easing back into your usual distance and intensity! We love balancing this out with more resistance training as you set your next goals whether it is to get stronger or another race in the near future.

The fact of the matter is, the faster you recover, the faster you’ll get back to running. Healing is essential for your longevity of many years to come running, don’t skip this important step!
So give yourself a couple days’ rest and then give us a call for some hands-on healing: 212-355-0445 or

Best in health,

Dr. Emily Kiberd