Ten days ago I ran Phoenix.  I told myself I would give 10-14 days before beginning to run again.  This was before I knew I would have issues with my hip and hamstring.

Phoenix marathon finish

I feel like my recovery has been going well.  I’ve also actively been working to figure out what went wrong with my hamstring and hip.  I can divide my race recovery into two categories:

  1. Rest and Recover my Injury (Right now it looks like I have a hip and hamstring injury)
  2. Normal recovery from the marathon

I have gotten a deep tissue massage and gone to a chiropractor.  Since my hamstring and hip are my primary concern, I’ll talk more about those.   So far I’ve gotten:

  • Deep Tissue Massage (and another one today)
  • Chiropractor appointment. She adjusted my hip and said it was out of line. She was able to figure out every point in my hip, butt and hamstring (as well as IT band) that hurt so I am hoping that solved most of the problem. While I don’t feel better yet, I’m hoping the muscles will start to get oxygen and feel better.
  • I’ve taken multiple Epsom salt baths as well as foam rolled, etc. (usual race recovery stuff).

Honestly so far my issues are not getting much better.  I wanted to wait 2 full weeks before going to the doctor because of the toll a marathon takes on your body.  The first thing a doctor would say is to rest and that is what I’m doing.  I have a suspicion the problem could be adhesions in the piraformis, sciatic nerve issues or misalignment in the hips.  I think my problem stems from the hips and is translated down into the hamstring.

The rest of my body:

My calves always get the tightest from running and races and this was no exception.  The deep tissue massage is reducing a lot of normal tightness. With the exception of my injury, the rest of my body is healing well. 

I’m not as sore as NYCM but that comes from an easier race course with less hills (and it was my second marathon).  My quads were extremely tight after NYCM but after Phoenix, I didn’t have that same quad tightness.

Something I wanted to make note of is that I do believe I am recovering much quicker because I don’t think I ran my true potential that day.  I believe an extra 10 seconds (due to my injury) per mile for the last few caused my muscles not to work as hard.  Combined with a net downhill race course, I believe that has caused an increase in recovery. I am still very surprised with how fast I am recovering.

For me I like to do all of the following to recover the fastest from a big race (injured or not):

  • Deep Tissue Massage within the week (always worth it to me)
  • Epsom salt bath
  • Take time off of running…my goal race is done…there is no need to jump directly back into training (this helps both mentally and physically)
  • Stretch, etc

So where does this leave me for running?

I used the term running, not training, because I’m not training for anything.  I think it’s important to take rest after big races and not immediately look for another race to dive into.  Obviously I am forced to take rest because I am injured right now regardless.

I’ve gone to the gym twice and done light cross training.  It felt fine to do that (my hamstring and hip didn’t feel any worse).   It felt nice to relax and get a little bit of sweat in.  I’ll continue to rest, relax and get to the bottom of my injury (bottom being a funny pun since occasionally my pain is in my bottom).  I don’t plan to run until my problem is solved.

Questions for you:

How do you recover after a big race (marathon or not)?

Have you ever been to a chiropractor or gotten a deep tissue massage?

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  1. Sounds like you have a good plan! (And I’m no doctor) the past few races that I have run have been half marathons, & I probably don’t take off enough time between those races and getting back to running. I rarely take even a week off.
    I’m definitely interested in learning more about the massage, do you think they always work? Would you get them without an injury?

    1. Yes my calves get very tight and deep tissue massages loosen that up. They are relatively expensive (between 60-90) but I have a membership and get one star least once per month (injured or not).

  2. I am dealing with something similar to you with a tight pifirormis/hips and alignment issues. I saw a chiro for awhile and now I am in PT. I think I was out of alignment for so long that it has become more difficult for my body to stay where its supposed to. It sounds like you are on the right track, and once your hips don’t hurt as much you can start working on strength to keep the hips stable. For me it has been a long and frustrating journey but I am learning alot, and taking my time with recovery to make sure I resolve it completely.

  3. I’m talking about my recovery from Phoenix today too. I give myself a full week before I think about running, but then (if not injured, because by then I will know if I am), I will do a few shake out style runs. Otherwise, I’m just doing easy spinning and upper body work. Rolling, yoga, eating well and sleeping as my body feels. I hope you recover quickly!

  4. I’ve gotten injured after my last two marathons — IT band. I’ve had to do ART, and then I’m usually up and around in about 4-6 weeks. I have to start out slow again, but as long as I don’t run at all in the beginning and ease back into it, I make full recoveries. Of course, I’ve also had to add a lot of strength exercises to hopefully prevent future injuries too. Hope you get some relief soon!

  5. I had hip issues this past winter and had a sports chiro work on it. Apparently it’s extremely common for women’s hips to become misaligned for obvious reasons. I also had a huge knot in my butt, ouch! I had to start doing a lot of pigeon pose and other hip stretching and so far my issues haven’t come back. I obviously think you should listen to your doc, but some light xt or running may help loosen things back up.

  6. I usually recover by taking 2-3 days off then easing back in with light miles.

    I go to a chiropractor regularly, not because I hurt but because I value the benefits of it. I usually go once before and right after a marathon. A lot of people don’t realize that a chiro does more than just adjust head and back. Mine has helped with loosening up hamstrings and quads.

    1. Yeah! She loosened up my hips a lot, which was nice. :-). I can’t wait to see you rock shamrock.

  7. I used to do nothing except rest to recover from marathons and halfs, until last year. I got my first post-race massage and took daily epsom salt baths and foam rolled, and couldn’t believe the difference. I seriously felt better WEEKS before normal, and even wanted to go on a run 2 days after my race! It’s been a game changer for me, and has helped me get back into shape to tackle my next race much faster, so I don’t lose much fitness. I’m a lot slower than you, though, so my muscles don’t go through nearly the same amount of stress!

    1. I honestly think a marathon puts stress on your body whether you are running 2 hours or 10. Aren’t deep tissue massages such a good investment? I seriously cannot get enough of them.

  8. I’m sorry you are dealing with this. Do you have an actual diagnosis? Keep doing what you’re doing for recovery. Also, if you have a good PT (and the really good ones are tough to find) they can do wonders. Good luck getting this thing kicked to the curb!

  9. My recoveries vary a lot. After my most recent ultra, I honestly felt fine. I didn’t even feel as though I’d done a long run because I took things so slowly and the terrain was so varied and soft. Road marathons are so much harder on my hips and hamstrings (co-incidentally) and those are the areas that are always sore, along with my knees if there are lots of sharp up and downhills on the course. I also always feel better if there are twists and turns as opposed to the repetitive strain of lots of long straights.

    Massage is brilliant: I get one as regularly as I can afford it! Chiropractors scare me a bit, and lots of them won’t go anywhere near my back for fear of inadvertently causing serious damage. Most people don’t have increasingly severe scoliosis though, so I’m sure they are beneficial for the majority.

    I hope your injuries improve soon ~ you certainly deserve them to for the common sense and moderation you have shown in your recovery.

    1. I think I make a big decision right now to put my money into deep tissue versus buying a lot of unnecessary clothing items, etc. I actually save a bunch to be able to afford them. I def understand why people don’t they are expensive!

  10. It’s always my hips and hamstring (right side) that get screwed up first. I have weak somethingorothers that cause my hip to get jammed on the right side, so my physio guy fixes me up and then I’m okay. But ya, it’s def a recurring injury and my right hamstring takes a beating for it.

  11. I have tight calves too and it stinks. Sometimes I wonder if wearing compression sleeves contributes to some of the tendonitis in my feet. I’m also starting to think that I need to be visiting my sports chiro regularly, for maintenance! I’m glad you’re giving your body a break and taking the time to address the hamstring issue completely so you can throw down another PR the next time you run 26.2 🙂

  12. Massages are gifts from the heaves. I always want to hug the massage therapist but that could get weird… Lol. Keep on keeping on, Hollie. It’ll feel better soon enough! <3

  13. Hope that hammy heals up soon. When I pulled a muscle a month or two ago i went to get a massage and it didn’t help whatsoever lol. I was hopping it would be magic or something but nada. I just had to rest unfortunately, but I got better.

  14. I see my chiropractor weekly year-round. (and if there’s an issue, I’ve been known to see him twice in the same week) Invaluable. I also get massages, but the depth of them will vary based on where I am training cycle, what hurts, etc.

    1. That makes complete sense. Where I’m dealing with is a pretty sensitive spot that I’m worried another deep tissue massage might be too much right now.

  15. Hopefully time will help things feel better for you but of course it’s still smart to see a chiropractor. I’ve never done it but I’ve always been really curious. That said these small imbalances become huge when we ask our bodies to perform in a marathon! I’ve always jumped back too fast afterwards but it feels good not to be training for anything now.

  16. After my last race I had some foot pain, so instead of running, I did low impact cross training, iced and elevated my foot when I was home. It’s hard to fully rest because my job is on your feet. However, I do take the time to sit, take meds and massage my feet.
    I try to think I’m getting better at catching injuries before they get too bad…

  17. I hope you start feeling better soon and it isn’t anything serious!

    I try to keep up with regular massages during training and after races. I’ve been lucky to not have any serious injuries (so far, knock on wood). I’ve done alot of marathons at this point and I really don’t get sore anymore, which is nice, but I do still take rest/recovery time after every race.

  18. I can’t speak much to recovering from a race, but I’ve definitely been thinking about investing more money into getting massages to help clear up some of the knots in my back. That’s where all my stress tends to go and it gets to the point where my muscles completely seize up on me and make it super painful to even put my clothes on. I’ve never been to a chiropractor, but I have a feeling I would benefit from one of those as well.

  19. Man oh man. This is a tough break, but on the bright side, the goal race is over so you can really focus on recovering. I’m a big fan of compression (sleeves and pants) for recovery, and I’ve done ice baths after really long bike rides. Pre- and post-race sports massages are always nice too. 🙂

  20. I had the exact sme problem- hip/sciatica pain that took MONTHS to resolve. I was in agony every day. Second the PT suggestion- mine fixed it. Also, I think what started it all was I switched my running shoes from high density pronators to medium. Didn’t connect the dots until I started going back to the gym after getting my pain resolved. Just wanted to throw that out there because sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint WHY you have the pain. Also, rolling the piriformis with a lacrosse ball, and pigeon pose helps too 🙂

    1. Thank you for the advice. The piraformis is one of my main problems. I am Aldo having issues with the adductor muscles as well as the psoas. There is a lot going on in there!

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