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Tips to Aid Recovery post Marathon

post marathon recovery
With race day fast approaching hopefully the stars are aligned and all your pre race preparation will allow you to produce a PB on the day.

Your marathon training will have taken you towards the 21-22 mile mark. So coming Monday you will be adding about 15% more distance to your longest run.

Your legs will be pushed to the limit so how can you best recover following your big run??


1- Be like Andy Murray!!

It’s widely known that Andy Murray soaks in a chilled bath after competing. Research shows that immersing the body in freezing cold water speeds up recovery after exercise. By reducing temperature, blood flow and inflammation in tissues of the muscles. 8-10 degrees Celsius is the temperature to achieve this. The soak needs to last around 8 minutes.

2- Avoid running in the early stages but do get up and move.

In the next 24-48 hours a brisk walk, light cycle or swim / aqua jog will increase blood flow to the recovering muscles. Providing oxygen and protein to boost muscle recovery.

3- Recovery massage.

If there are therapists about straight after the marathon then jump on their table and get a gentle effleurage massage to help drain the lactic acid from those tired muscles.
After that it might be 48-72 hours before you could bear someone touching those aching legs. Be sure to inform your physio of how you are feeling, previous response to massage and most importantly if you feel the massage is relieving the pain.

4- Listen to your body.

After the run you won’t know if the many aches and pains are an injury or just the result of the stress from the marathon. So let it settle early stages and if a pain isn’t reducing after 2-3 days consult a physio before starting to run again.

5- Get your nutrition right.

The endurance run you have completed will deplete your glycogen stores, so ensure plenty of carbs over the first few days post race. Increased protein consumption is also very beneficial to aid muscle recovery and rebuilding. Obviously hydration is essential although you might just deserve a pint of “ The Black Stuff” after the run, sure it’s full of iron apparently!!!!

When and Why should I get a pre marathon sports massage?

Running Comments Off on When and Why should I get a pre marathon sports massage?

Race day is fast approaching and the taper is in full swing so the legs are beginning to get a well earned rest.

The next big decision is

1- Would a sports massage help me?
2- With 10 days left till the marathon, when should i get it?

Firstly you must consider, is this your first massage? If so there is an unknown as to how you will react to a sports massage. Some people are very tender and mildly bruised following It, although our therapists try to grade depth appropriately to each individual especially on their first visit.

We would always recommend a pre marathon massage at least 5-10 days pre race ( if it’s a first massage the longer pre event the better) so that our physio’s can work at an appropriate depth to have an effect mobilising your muscles and fascia whilst allowing you ample time to complete a couple of short easy runs to help flush the toxins produced following the massage from the affected muscles.

The principle thing to consider is:

Why would you need a sports massage ?

The answer is simple.

Deep tissue massages improve blood flow to your muscles by stimulating the circulatory system. You’ll get an influx of oxygen-rich blood, which helps flush out the byproducts of hard exercise, and delivers fresh nutrients.

The other aims of deep massage are to:
Improve flexibility
Reduce muscle tension
Break up scar tissue and adhesions ( the micro trauma to the muscle caused by the stress of loading the muscles during marathon training)

Our physio’s whilst massaging are able to detect tight knots within the muscle and can apply different techniques to mobilise them. The longer pre marathon they do the treatment the greater depth they can go to. This allows them to achieve the best effect. While still allowing plenty of time for any soreness to disappears.

Everyone has different pain levels and pain tolerance so not only do our physio’s take feedback from the quality of the soft tissue they are working on but also the feedback from the client regarding it. As an area is worked on progressively it should relax, loosen and become less painful.

What should you expect post massage?

Depending on the depth our physio’s work at it is normal to have:
Some tenderness to touch but feeling looser.
Occasional mild bruising
Improved range of motion
Your legs feeling a little lethargic.

This is why we never recommend a deep massage in the final few days pre event as it takes a day or two to recover.
Always increase your hydration post massage to help flush out the toxins.

So our take home message is:

  • Pre marathon massage is very beneficial
  • Best done 5-10 days pre marathon
  • Allow a few easy runs in the days after it
  • Provide plenty of feedback to to your physio to ensure the maximum depth of treatment with the minimum pain

Please call our main office on 02830269733 if your wish to book your pre marathon sports massage

Tips for Tapering for a Marathon

The big day is approaching to Deep river rock Belfast marathon and for many runners the big question is when do you taper?

Start to early and you will lose the fitness levels you have worked so hard to achieve.

Start to late and a long run won’t give your body time to recover prior to the big day. ( it takes about 7-10 days after your last long run for your muscles to recover!)

One of the biggest things to remember in marathon training is that there is no way to bluff it or cram at the last minute like you would for an exam. If the hard work isn’t done by 2-3 weeks out it won’t be!!! The taper is purely about refining your training.

Firstly, what is a taper?

It is a runner cutting their mileage of training significantly in the days/ weeks preceding the big event. It doesn’t necessarily mean slowing the pace down when running but shortening the length of runs to allow body recovery prior to the marathon.

Why taper?

When we train hard and consistently we push our muscles to the limit causing micro trauma of the muscle fibers. (please note, this is due to overloading the muscles in training not an acute muscle tear like feeling a sharp pain in your hamstring). When your muscles are damaged, your body will recruit amino acids. (the building blocks of proteins) to come and repair your muscle. However, as a coastal city might build a mightier dam after a flood, the body recognizes that this muscle will be subject to this type of damage and rebuilds the muscle bigger and stronger to adapt to this new stimulus.
In the last 6 weeks leading up to a marathon the stress on the muscles is increased weekly with less recovery time for the body to repair these micro-tears. This is were the taper is essential in the last few weeks to reduce the load and allow the muscle to repair stronger.

Aims of your taper:

1- Allow muscles time to heal and rebuild stronger
2- Let your body restock its glycogen stores
3- Minimise accumulated fatigue and allow your immune system to recover.

When to taper?

The majority of runners aim to complete their last big run 3 weeks prior to the marathon. So anyone running Belfast should hopefully have that complete. Although for more experienced marathon runners sometimes 2 week is sufficient but that would be the absolute minimum.

How to taper effectively:
From 3 weeks out cut the mileage to around 80% of maximum week but keep intensity of runs aiming a lot for marathon pace runs to get used to the speed. Plenty of rest days and stretching to aid muscle recovery. If you are planning on changing trainers for race day this must be done now to allow adequate break in time.

From 2 weeks out cutting miles to around 50% maximum but again keep running at marathon pace or slightly above it. At this stage beginning to carb load steadily to boost the now depleted glycogen stores. Steady carb loading is recommended rather than eating 14 bowls of pasta in the last 48hours

The week of the race, a steady run 6 days out is excellent to avoid staleness over the 3 week taper. A 12-18min easy run the day before can get you ready for the off on race day. Plenty of sleep, hydration and carb loading are essential. Whilst forming your plan for refueling on race day.
Most importantly on the day of the race don’t do something you have never done before. ( like eating 500 jelly babies) and repeat as close as possible the routine and plan you followed on the days of your long runs!

Now the only thing to do is try not to hit the wall!!!



Pilates is an exercise based therapy which is designed to strengthen, elongate and restore the body’s muscular Skelton system into balance.

The origins of pilates stem from early part of 1900 from its inventor ‘Joseph Pilates’ who as a child had been very frail but developed a technique of physical fitness using experiences from classical Roman to body building to martial arts.

He developed his own approach to exercise and body conditioning which gained popularity as athletes found it the best way to recover from injuries and prevent recurrence.

Over the years it has been developed and from the 1970’s on has become increasingly popular with the public.


It is a gentle, non-aerobic exercise method designed to strengthen weak muscles, lengthen tight muscles and improve general posture. The aim is for a properly balanced body which results in improved joint mobility, firm musculature and a good natural posture. It is a very specific form of exercise which is safe and controlled as well as low impact and works on the principle of ‘gain with no pain’.


Anyone can benefit from Pilates as it is a very gentle form of exercise. Traditionally the classes tend to be female dominated and there is still a tendency for Pilates to be avoided by men, however top premiership footballer Steven Gerrard is joining the growing list of sportsmen who are extending their career through incorporating it into their regime  so we encourage everyone to the class.


Although if attending for a specific ailment or injury it is best to inform the teacher prior to starting the class to ensure they can tailor certain exercises to specific needs.


Pilates is a complete exercise method developed by its founder Joseph Pilates over the course of a lifetime dedicated to improving physical and mental health. Pilates focuses on building your body’s core strength and improving your posture through a series of low repetition low impact stretching and conditioning exercises.

By core strength, we are talking about your back, abdominal and pelvic muscles. Through pilates, you will be able to develop these muscles without adding bulk, increasing your flexibility and agility and at the same time toning your stomach and thigh muscles.

Pilates goes far beyond your core muscles however and not only provides a complete body workout (you will be working muscles you didn’t even know you had!), but also helps you develop an awareness of how your body works, helping your mind and body to work in harmony.


Pilates is based on eight principles:

  1. Relaxation
  2. Alignment
  3. Control
  4. Precision
  5. Routine
  6. Breathing
  7. Centring
  8. Flowing movement

Should you wish to find out anymore about the benefits of pilates do not hesitate to contact our main office on 02830269733


achilles tendon, achilles heel, sports injuryAchilles Heel!

The term Achilles heel derives from Greek mythology when a great warrior Achilles was dipped in water as a baby which was supposed to make him invincible, unfortunately as his mother dipped him in, she held him by the heel Which wasn’t washed over. This became his weak spot and ultimately led to his downfall.

Unfortunately for most runners and triathletes who suffer from Achilles pain the duration can also be EPIC!

It is one of the most common weak spots in the body for overuse injuries and will usually be classified as one of 3 diagnosis’s

– Achilles tendonosis : this involves degeneration and some inflammation of the tendon itself. Its shape changes from that of a thin pencil like shape to an overall thickening along the tendon.

– Achilles paratendonitis : the paratendon is a sheath that encloses the tendon and should provide protection and allow fluid movement of the tendon. Unfortunately symptoms of inflammation and swelling can develop between the tendon and the sheath this can cause scar tissue and reduces the tendon mobility.

– A combination of the 2 above.

Very often with this the key to recovery is not just physiotherapy assessment and treatment but also evaluating the causes of it. These may include:

Biomechanical faults ( usually over-pronation)
Poor footwear ( digging into heel)
Direct injury or previous unresolved injury
Changes of running surface
Tight and or weak calf muscles

Commonly when athletes self diagnose and treat they get stuck into copious amounts of eccentric exercises ( heel drops with a gorilla on their back) and can often aggravate the complaint.

That is not to say eccentrics are not appropriate, just they need to be added to a rehabilitation program when appropriate i.e. when the basic calf mobility and strength is returning and the tight calf muscles have been released. Along with specific soft tissue treatment to the tendon.

Occasionally these injuries require a full podiatry assessment and orthotic prescription and if they fail to recover an ultrasound scan via a radiologist who may administer high volume saline injections to break up scar tissue between the para-tendon and the tendon.

Pre Marathon Tips

Pre Marathon Tips - The Physio GroupWith Belfast marathon only 3 weeks away and Newry marathon 5 weeks away we thought it would be a good idea to give some advice to those who are running their first marathon.

For most first timers it’s all about crossing the finish line and not personal bests! From a physical point of view we would recommend you manage to get up to 25 or 26 miles somewhere in your training so at least mentally you know you have the physical capabilities of completing on the day!

There is a widespread notion that running the full 26 miles during training is a bad idea, that you are somehow weakening yourself. On the contrary, we tend to think that tackling the full distance for the first time while pushing a race pace is much riskier, you have to train the distance to race the distance!!

This is going to sound absurd compared to the advice you have been given by experienced runners and coaches but remember if you are a 1st timer you are not an experienced marathon runner! If your longest run is 20 miles remember you have still have about 25% left to complete! This doesn’t sound much, but the slower you run this equates to a lot longer on your legs than you are used to.

We see a lot of injuries that occur in the latter part of the race so we feel having the miles in the legs is essential. Just leave yourself enough time to taper and recover for the race!!

Stretching for Runners

Stretching for Runners - Newry and Belfast PhysioWith the Belfast marathon on the near horizon and weekly 5k, 10k and half marathons we are constantly asked by runners about stretching. How, when and why? 

The current research pre run has massively come away from the Static stretch and moved towards a more dynamic warm-up to improve functional mobility for your run and we would agree with this approach for the majority of runners. 

The time to statically stretch, we feel, is after your run when the muscles are warm and extensible. The stretch should be felt but never sharply painful. 

The other point to remember is that if you spend time improving your muscle flexibility you then need to strengthen it so that you have strength through your full range of movement, but we will cover the strengthening exercises for runners in another post.

Barefoot Running or Minimalist Running

Barefoot Running - Newry and Belfast PhysioSince the explosion of the barefoot running and five fingers phenomenon, we have an increasing number of our clients asking us if they should be trying it.

There are a lot of claims made of the benefits of this style of running such as increased foot strengthen and reduced injuries. Unfortunately a lot of these claims aren’t backed up by scientific evidence and major manufacturer Vibram are paying the price in compensation to disgruntled customers.

So what do you?

In theory if you are a forefoot striker you may think your gait may be more tailored to the five fingers but does this work in the real world? The most important element runners must evaluate what terrain you run on and is the shoe fit for purpose for you? Also how many elite runners wear these types of shoes?

I would be very interested to get some feedback from those who have experience of the barefoot/ minimalist running. So please Pure Running NI,Born 2 RunNewry & Mourne RunnersNewry City RunnersDub Runners of Belfast, post up any comments below.