Pre and Post Marathon Stretching by Physiotherapist, Bozena

With London Marathon just around the corner, we are focusing our attention on how to make the most of the experience and prevent any potential injuries. Most london mara 2018 1547554201marathon training plans range from 12 to 20 weeks. Beginning marathoners should aim to build their weekly mileage up to 50 miles over the four months leading up to race day. Three-to-five runs per week is sufficient. By now, we would have hoped you managed to get a few massage treatments to prepare your body and mind to one of the most demanding physical activities out there. If not, make sure you scheudle your pre marathon massage in Fulham, ideally 2-5 days before the big day. 

Stretching can also lead to less injuries but the question is what type of stretching is best before and after the marathon?

Should I Stretch Before or After Running?

The body needs to be massaged, fibres stretched out and adhesions and knots stripped out of tired and damaged muscles and stretching post-training can really help with this process. You are definitely better to cut a run short by 5–10 minutes and get in the key stretches to re-align muscle fibres and encourage re-oxygenated blood full of nutrients into the muscle. Just running and never stretching is taking a risk and slowing recovery.

5 DYNAMIC PRE-RUN STRETCHES (can be used before each training session and certainly before the main race - on Marathon day)

If you’re going to run a bit faster or longer you’re better to do some dynamic stretching – that’s stretching on the move which will dynamically mobilize the muscles and get more blood to the important areas.

Here are some dynamic pre-run drills for you to look at that will help you on your run.

  1. GLUTE AND PIRIFORMIS ACTIVATION

  A must for those who suffer with piriformis, runner’s knee, and IT Band issues.glute and piriformis activation stretch 640x640

How do you do this stretch?

Stand up straight while retaining good posture and balance. Bring your ankle up inverting the foot towards the knee and then the waist. Feel the stretch in the glute and lateral quad area.

How long should this stretch take?

Each movement should take two to three seconds on alternating legs over a 20 metre distance at slow walking pace. Do 3 x sets with a walk back recovery in between.

What is this stretch good for?

This dynamic stretch is great for the glutes, hips, lower back, and lateral quad mobilization. Most runners have been sitting or lying down for hours before they go for a run, making their muscles tight in the glute, lower back, and pelvic areas. This exercise helps to mobilize the glutes and lateral quad areas prior to running.

  1. HAMSTRING SWEEP

A must for those who suffer with hamstring tightness.

How do you do this stretch?hamstring sweep dynamic stretch 640x640

Take a short stride forward keeping the heel firmly on the ground. Keep the front leg straight and bend the back knee sinking your bottom towards the ground as though you’re about to sit in a chair.

At the same time as keeping the front leg straight, sweep down with your hands towards the ground creating a dynamic stretch on the hamstring group.

How long should this stretch take?

Each movement should take two to three seconds on alternating legs over a 20 meter (60 ft.) distance at slow walking pace. Aim to do 3 x sets.

What is this stretch good for?

Hamstring conditioning and flexibility. Conditioning of the hamstring group and long term improvement of flexibility.

  1. ANKLE AND CALF MOBILIZATION

A must for those who suffer from Achilles, calf, plantar fasciitis, and shin issues.

How do you do this stretch?ankling and calf mobilisation stretch 640x640

This is an alternative calf raise and lowering drill. The idea is to place the foot on the ground with the toe and the ball of the foot first. Then lower your weight through the foot eventually allowing the heel to return to the ground. Think of it as the opposite to walking, going toe to heel as opposed to heel to toe.

How long should this stretch take?

It should take one to two seconds for each movement alternating on each foot and leg. Aim for 15–30 seconds but pick up the pace and aim to move at a brisk walking speed. Do 3 x sets with a walk back recovery in between.

What is this stretch good for?

Fantastic exercises for Achilles and calf strengthening. Mobilizes and increases flexibility at the same time. This is an absolute must for those who suffer with Achilles, calf, plantar fasciitis, and shin issues.

  1. LEG SWINGS: ABDUCTOR & ADDUCTOR

A must for those who suffer from tightness around the abductor/adductor muscle groups.

How do you do this stretch?leg swing abductor adductor all

Keep your trunk and torso strong with good pelvic alignment. Head up and swing one leg across the body to end of range on the medial side and then back across to the lateral side. This movement is controlled and close to one swing per second with no forced effort. Be careful not to rotate the trunk or pelvis.

How long should this stretch take?

Aim to work for 15–20 seconds, then change legs.

What is this stretch good for?

Increased mobility around the abductor/adductor muscle groups along with a stronger core. Increased range of movement (ROM) and dynamic strength.

  1. LEG SWINGS: HAMSTRING & HIP FLEXOR

A must for those who suffer from tightness around hamstring and hip flexor muscle groups.

leg swing hamstring hip flexor all How do you do this stretch?

Keep your trunk and torso strong with good pelvic alignment. Head up and swing the leg forwards and backwards engaging the hamstrings and hip flexor groups. Be careful not to lean forward or back keeping the pelvis in a strong and fixed position.

How long should this stretch take?

Aim to work for 15–20 seconds then change legs.

What is this stretch good for?

Increased mobility around the hamstring/hip flexor muscle groups along with a stronger core. Increased range of movement (ROM) and dynamic strength.

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Post Marathon 

Post marathon action is equaly as important as what you do before the race. After an exhausting run or race, you might be tempted to sit or lie down. But getting off your feet too soon could also cause muscles and tendons to tighten up. It's important to find the right balance.

The best recovery plan is to immediately hydrate and then do the stretches to increase elasticity and reduce stiffness. Post-run is a great time to stretch because your muscles will be warmed up.

The final thing you should try and do as soon as you can after the race to help your marathon recovery is to shower – a long one or bath with Epsom salt. Once under the water, alternate between very hot and very cold temperatures for 30-60 seconds each round, focusing mainly on your legs and back. This kind of showering helps get oxygen-rich-blood, proteins, potassium – basically all the fluids and fuels you’ve just put in your body post-race pumping around the muscles where it’s needed to work faster.

The next days

In the days after the marathon, you’ll want to find ways to move the body to promote blood flow and recovery. Likely your body won’t be up for running for a few days, so swimming is a great way to continue some (relaxed) exercise. The same goes for low-intensity cycling. During these first few post-marathon days, massages and daily stretching are also things to consider to further promote circulation and recovery.

A training plan for post-marathon recovery could look like the one below, however most important is to listen to your own body and go at your own pace.

Marathon recovery plan            

  • Day 1: very light session in the pool.images 5
  • Day 2: light session in the pool or bike. Massage may also be recommended here.
  • Day 3: weights session and short “test” walk (2km). Stretching session (or yoga).
  • Day 4: second pool or bike session or, if body feels recovered, short, slow run (5km max).
  • Day 5: slowly return to your normal routine.

Post Marathon Massage in Fulham

Post event massage treatment at Fulham Massage & Wellness is also a great way to aid recovery. We recommend receiving a massage from as early as next day after the marathon until 72 hours.  Massage after marathon in Fulham helps to soothe the soreness, get rid of lactic acid and waste products and increase circulation. It will also help to loosen up tight areas and enable the body to get back to its optimum shape.

If you have any questions, need advice on your pre and post marathon preparation or want to simply book your massage treatment, get in touch via our booking form or give us a call on 02037949760. We are your biggest supporters and can't wait to help you!

Written by: Bozena, In-house Physiotherapist at Fulham Massage & Wellness


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