How can I help my body recover from a marathon?

The toll a marathon takes on one’s body differs depending on the individual. There is a good deal of muscle damage and breakdown that occurs during a marathon. However, there are things you can do. Immediately after a marathon, it is important to rehydrate and to eat. Many people will find they have lost several pounds in weight right after a marathon. This is evidence of water loss and the need for hydration. Even if you are having stomach issues, it is important to take in fluids. There is also a loss of electrolytes during a race, and these too need to be replaced. There are many types of fluid you can drink that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that you can use to rehydrate immediately after the marathon. Intake of carbohydrates (sugars) will help to replace the glycogen stores your body will deplete during the marathon. Glycogen is a form of energy used by the muscles during the run. Also important is to eat foods high in protein. The muscles will need that protein to begin the rebuilding process and to repair the damage done during the marathon. Over the next several weeks to months, the body will continue to recover. It is best to give a fair amount of time in between marathons to allow that recovery and eventual build-up to marathon form. In the interim, even days after the marathon, a gradual return to running and gradual build-up of miles over the subsequent weeks to months will allow you to return to marathon form.

To help you body recover from your marathon try the following techniques:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich with fruits and veggies and complex carbohydrates
  • Perform a total-body stretching routine
  • Ice any sore joints and get plenty of rest


Dr. Daniel Hsu, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
To help your body recover from a marathon, you can ice your sore joints and drink plenty of electrolyte-rich fluids like orange juice or tomato juice. Acupuncture can also help you recover from all of your physical injuries as well as your post-race depression. Try a few acupuncture sessions after the race. You’ll be glad you did.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.