First of all, congratulations are in order! Crossing that finish line is a huge achievement. You have taken your body and mind to the limits which takes real dedication. And just as the training must be taken seriously, so must the recovery.
A marathon results in much more than simply “sore muscles”, it causes serious muscular, cellular and immune system damage, and recovery can be a lengthy process. So, no matter where you placed in the race, prioritising recovery after a marathon is critical. Thankfully, there are a variety of supplements and herbs which can benefit you throughout your recovery journey. Our top 5 recommendations are as followed:
The days following your big race, you will want to ease those aching muscles with a warm bath to aid blood flow to the muscles by dilating blood vessels and increasing circulation which supports healing. Adding magnesium flakes to your bath is great way to enhance this process by naturally relaxing the muscles and replacing lost magnesium, to allow the body to repair quicker and more naturally. Magnesium is also naturally calming to the nervous system and plays a key role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy GABA levels, enabling the body and mind to switch off and have a restful night’s sleep.
Protein provides the tools (amino acids) to support and repair your damaged muscles from the many kilometres of training you have recently endured. It also plays a role in reducing the response from the stress hormone cortisol and it even helps to improve muscle glycogen restoration by increasing the rate glucose is taken into muscles. Studies have found protein supplementation may help to improve energy and fatigue levels and reduce muscle soreness.
As there is an endless variety of protein powders on the market, choosing the right protein can be difficult and confusing. Ideally you want a protein with a complete amino acid profile, so your body has all the building blocks it needs for muscle-protein synthesis.
Arnica is a useful recovery tool for the fitness fanatics and wholesome types looking for an alternative to over the counter pain medications for their aching muscles. This unique herb is one of the most renowned homeopathic remedies for pain management due to its sesquiterpene lactone constituents which hold potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Arnica gels, oils, creams and ointments are applied directly to the skin, but should not be ingested or used on broken skin or highly sensitive skin.
Upon finishing a marathon, the body releases a cascade of hormones and other chemicals in response to the physiological stress of the race. This response is recognised as oxidative stress, which is known to result in inflammation and impede the immune system. This is where Vitamin C comes in; Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which works to protect the body from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which means Vitamin C can help speed up the recovery by preventing excessive levels of inflammation.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid that works as fuel for our immune cells and may have specific immunostimulatory effects. The intense and prolonged training that marathon runners undergo can lead to increased physical stress and depletion of glutamine in the plasma. This may contribute to impairment of the immune system and leave runners at an increased risk of infection. Research has found glutamine supplementation may reduce the incidence of illness and infection in athletes and can also assist in maintaining muscle mass.