The key to marathon recovery is to increase blood circulation; it is very important to get out the day after the marathon. The best time is in the afternoon, when you have had a chance to loosen up a bit by walking around -- preferably on soft surfaces. It will also relieve the soreness over the long run and speed up the rate of recovery in the next few days.

Any activity that aids in blood circulation will help you to recover from the marathon. If that is difficult, try bicycle riding or swimming. Rest is one of the most important

essentials in recovering from a marathon.

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In the weeks following a marathon, the runner must take special care to recover from the distance. Muscle contractures are one of the most common problems following a marathon. The muscles tighten and shorten and the bones cannot go through their normal range of motion.

Staying loose is the most important part of the marathon recovery. The following are a few easy stretching exercises for those who are extremely contracted.

Hip and Lower back: Lying prone (on the stomach), lift one leg at a time. Keep the leg straight and don't rotate the hips. Repeat up to 10 times with each leg.

Hamstring Muscle (back of thigh): Using a bench or chair, raise the foot to waist level. Hold the foot or ankle with both hands. Keep the knees and back straight. If muscles hurt, stop and don't hold the feet or ankle, just stretch. With the lower leg, place the balls of the feet on an edge of a step and lift onto the toes, hold and drop heels. Repeat 10-15 times.

Stomach and Groin Muscles: Lying supine (on your back), curl up part way with head raised, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor with arms over stomach, then lower the back and head. Rest, then repeat 10 times. .

If there are persistent pains, seek medical care.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss, a Sport Podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 & 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials.