Sports Medicine Experts Offer Tips to Help Post Half-Marathon Recovery

New York—March 15, 2013 

More than 15,000 runners have spent the past several months training for the NYC Half 2013. Once they have completed the race and achieved their goals, there are measures they can take to facilitate recovery, decrease post-race discomfort, and return to running without injury.

Eating immediately after the half marathon, icing sore muscles, and having a gentle massage are only a few of the tips that Michael Silverman, PT, MSPT, physical therapist from the Rehabilitation Department at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, offers runners who cross the finish line.

“Runners have to pay close attention to their bodies so they don’t injure themselves,” says Silverman. “Training should have provided runners with a good idea of how their body works. Runners should take everything they’ve learned in that time and apply it to taking proper care of their body after the marathon—they will feel better, faster.”

The following are recovery tips from Silverman on ways to bounce back from a half marathon:

• Replenish. Immediately after the race, you are given a food and fluid bag. While you are waiting around, being ushered out of the park, consume the entire bag. This will immediately replenish salt, and add some quick carbohydrates and nutrients.

• Rehydrate. After months of training a lot of runners just want to party when they finish the race. That is fine, but be smart about it. Hydrating is very important. If you consume alcohol it will only further dehydrate you. Making a smart ratio, 2:1, or 3:1 glasses of water per alcoholic beverage will help you from causing harm.

• Rejuvenate. Sitting down after all of those hours of running is a shock to the body. As much as you want to just sit down after the race, it's important to keep moving! 
 
• Eating the day after is just as important. Try to stay away from enormous meals. Eat small amounts of nutrient-rich foods every two hours. Good meals could be steak, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Berries, chocolate or yogurt parfaits are good desserts. Chicken stir fry with loads of vegetables is an excellent lunch;

• Ice your muscles often. If you are having severe muscle pain during the race, immediately go to the medical tent to ice your muscles. After returning home from the race, ice your muscles with ice packs or (preferably) an ice bath. Ice baths soothe microscopic muscle damage and inflammation. Sit in a 54-60-degree (Fahrenheit) ice bath for 6-12 minutes. 30-60 minutes afterward, take a warm shower.

• Stretch correctly after the race. After finishing the race, walk for 10-15 minutes and perform very light stretching. During the next day, perform light stretching and a light warm-up (biking or a warm shower).

• Get a massage a few days after the race. Use caution during the first 48 hours after the race, as your muscles are very sensitive. If you get a massage, schedule it for a few days after the race. Make sure it is a flushing (light) massage and be sure the therapist knows that you just ran a marathon.

• Perform low-impact, low-intensity exercise after the race. Only start exercising when you are feeling ready. This can take up to a month. Cycling, the elliptical and exercises in the pool (swimming, underwater running) are ideal;

• Wait 5-7 days after the race before running again. Begin with decreased intensity on soft surfaces and don’t run more than 25 percent of your peak weekly mileage. A good rule of thumb is: perform one week of reduced intensity training for every hour;

“Feeling sore after a marathon is normal; but pain and swelling are the body’s ways of indicating that something is wrong,” says Brian Halpern, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery and author of Men’s Health Best Sports Medicine Handbook. “The best way to handle almost every sports injury is the RICE method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.”

Hospital for Special Surgery is the Official Hospital to the New York Road Runners for the ING New York City Marathon, NYC Half and the Oakley New York Mini 10K.

About the NYC Half
NYRR’s flagship half-marathon, in its eighth running, will air live locally on WABC-TV from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and concurrently stream live on ESPN3. NYRR’s On the Run broadcast will air on www.nyrr.org at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, with a post-race recap Sunday evening.

The NYC Half will offer 15,000 runners a spectacular 13.1 mile tour of Manhattan as they race through Central Park to Times Square, along the Hudson River waterfront to finish in lower Manhattan. The race continues to attract prominent professional athletes and thousands of recreational runners from around the world. This year's race is “More than a Run,” offering runners and their family, friends, and fans ways to get involved, give back, and have fun.

About Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology, No. 10 in neurology, and No. 5 in geriatrics by U.S.News & World Report (2012-13), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center three consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. From 2007 to 2011, HSS has been a recipient of the HealthGrades Joint Replacement Excellence Award. HSS is a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.
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