As we exercise, we are actually tearing tiny muscle fibers. Then, over the next 24 hours, our body repairs these fibers and protects us by making them thicker than they originally were. This explains why muscles get bigger and stronger.

Researchers have shown us that there can also be cell damage to the muscles. However, this damage is not permanent as muscle tissue is capable of regenerating itself.

Rest is one of the most important essentials in recovering from an endurance event such as running a marathon. Many athletes do not allow enough rest time in their schedules. When the body is pushed to its limit, something will inevitably break down. This breakdown can be in the form of injury to a body part or to the body’s resistance, opening up an avenue to illness.

If the endurance event is a marathon, it is very important to get out the day after. 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. This will relieve the soreness and speed up the rate of recovery over the next few days.

Blood circulation is the key to staying loose. Any activity that aids blood circulation will help in your recovery. In a few cases, we suggest easy running. If that is difficult, try bicycle riding or swimming, where the body weight changes as it becomes more buoyant. After a week, the muscle soreness may disappear and fool you into thinking that you are ready to start training again; however, the stresses from the endurance event are still there even a few weeks later.

It is also extremely important to restore body fluids, especially if the event was in extreme heat or humidity. The athlete should drink plenty of liquids during the 48 hours following the event. For a long-range recovery program the athlete needs body-building nutrients, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons and has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.

For info visit his Web site at www.stamford

healthmedicalgroup.org, and find a Physician-Dr. Robert F. Weiss.

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