SEA Games gold medal-winning marathoner Soh Rui Yong answers all your questions in his new column on RUN Singapore! He’ll also get the help of industry experts to chip in, so keep reading for more every fortnight.
I tend to crash and sleep in for a couple of days after a marathon. Is this normal and what do you do to recover post-marathon?
Soh Rui Yong says:
I often can't walk right for about 4 days after a marathon. It's normal, as running a maximum effort of over 42.195km provides a good beating on the body.
To recover, I take 2 weeks to switch off completely from running. I eat well, get lots of sleep, and get sports massages to loosen up the tight muscles. Staying off my feet as much as possible also seems to help during this recovery downtime.
Most recently, I completed the Berlin Marathon and promptly went from living the life of a competitive runner to that of a couch potato, getting off my feet only for food or sports massages. As my friend Eliud Kipchoge says, the more important thing is to let the mind rest and refresh. He took an even longer break from running than I did - 2.5 weeks!
Ms Vernetta Wong, musculoskeletal physiotherapist and lymphoedema therapist from Physio Advance, a member of Healthway Medical Group says:
The reason why we tend to crash and sleep post-marathon is because our body is trying to rest and heal from the impact and damage incurred during a strenuous activity.
After a marathon or after a strenuous exercise, severe fatigue will likely set in due to a rise in the plasma creatine kinase in our blood. Plasma creatine kinase is a protein that is found mainly in the skeletal muscles, heart and brain. The release of plasma creatinine kinase from the skeletal muscles into the blood is possibly to indicate that there is a certain extent of muscle damage in the body.
Studies have shown that a higher level of plasma creatine kinase will lead to more exhaustion and muscle pain. However, on a brighter note, a higher level of plasma creatine kinase also correlates to better performance in the runner.
There are many proposed ways to enhance post-marathon recovery. They vary from sports massage, dietary supplementation to compression socks. However, not all are clinically proven to be effective.
Massage can help to reduce swelling and muscle pain, relieve muscles stiffness, enhance the healing of strained muscles, and improve joint flexibility and their range of motion. These benefits will increase blood flow in the muscles, improve lactate clearance rate and decrease the plasma creatinine kinase levels.
Dietary supplementation such as tart cherry juice has also shown substantial anti-inflammatory effects which can help to reduce an acute inflammation from muscle damage. A study by Kuehl suggests that taking 7 days of tart juice prior to and during the marathon will help to reduce post-running pain.
Clinical trials have shown that wearing compression socks during the run does not reduce muscle damage or enhance recovery.
About the Expert:
Ms Vernetta Wong is a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and lymphoedema therapist from Physio Advance, a member of Healthway Medical Group. She has 10 years of clinical experience with 7 years of specialisation in musculoskeletal conditions. She has a Master’s Degree in Physiotherapy (musculoskeletal) from the University of Queensland in 2012.
Find more information from www.physioadvance.com