Massage for Marathon Runners
With marathon season fast approaching, you’ve probably upped your training and as a result your legs are starting to feel it! So why not book in for a sports massage at Pea Green Physio Bicester as part of your recovery and boost your performance to get that time you deserve! Most high level runners have regular massages during their preparation, so why shouldn’t you!
No doubt you will have heard of the some of the benefits of sports massage like improved circulation, less muscle soreness, and a removal of exercise waste products like lactic acid. Contrary to popular belief however lactic acid (or lactate) is removed from your muscles within minutes of accumulating. It’s also not actually responsible for sore muscles or DOMS. DOMS (Delayed onset of muscle soreness) is thought to form as a result of micro-trauma to the muscles as they are constantly working throughout a run. These areas of damage are then repaired through the body’s inflammatory process, which takes up to 2 days, which is why soreness is often delayed post run/activity. Typically, DOMS occurs at the start of a new training programme/intensity, then as the muscles adapt to the demands, the soreness becomes less so.
Here are some of the many benefits of massage in marathon preparation and recovery:
ADHESIONS & SCAR TISSUE
A major well known benefit of massage is that it relaxes tense muscles and removes adhesions or minor scar tissue between muscles and fascia (connective tissue that surrounds the muscles beneath the skin). Unneeded tension and adhesions can restrict movement and impair your range of motion, potentially leading to abnormal movement patterns that can cause overuse injuries. These adhesions can come in the form of myofascial trigger points (or knots as their more commonly known), which often elicit pain when pressure is applied to them and can cause referred pain elsewhere. Various massage techniques such as trigger point therapy and active release techniques are extremely effective in reducing these.
PAIN RELIEF & STRESS
Another benefit of massage is pain relief and relaxation. Pain changes how we function and can even inhibit healing. Massage may help get us out of a stress dominated state of our nervous system, by reducing stress hormones within the body, such as cortisol, which has a large impact on how we perceive pain. Relaxation is often overlooked in terms of training. Stress from work or your personal life can negatively impact your training and ultimately how well you adapt to workouts. After all, adaptation is simply your body’s reaction to a stress (in this case, running). But stress in other areas of life can hinder your body’s ability to adapt because it’s overloaded.
As mentioned before, massage won’t remove the lactic acid within your system, however it will promote better circulation to your muscles, which in itself can promote healing as a fresh blood supply will carry all the oxygen and nutrient to your muscles to assist their recovery. Running faster workouts – or higher mileage – is one of the best ways to become a better runner. And massage can help you do that while mitigating the injury risk.
When is the best time to schedule a massage?
In the run up to your event, a massage once every 1-4 weeks is effective in eliciting effective muscle recovery and will keep you training at your best. Its however not advised to train immediately after a massage as the body will require a day or two to recover, so plan accordingly around your training.
If you want a massage before a race it’s better to receive it at least 2-3 days before. Massage right before a race might leave you sore on the starting line. Massage right after a hard race or workout (or maybe even the day after if you’re still significantly sore) is counterproductive to the recovery process, and. Massage can sometimes require “recovery” so you want to wait until that wobbly feeling disappears. Think of massage as a workout where deep pressure can cause some muscle soreness. You don’t want to layer too many sources of muscle soreness so it’s best to wait 1-2 days after a hard workout or race to get your massage.
To further extend the benefits of massage, you can help by staying hydrated and drinking lots of water. Combined with a clean diet of whole foods and light foam rolling, you’ll get the most out of your massage sessions, and will recover much more quickly—so you can train harder and race faster.
If sports massage is something you’d like to add to your routine as part of the recovery process, or need a release of all that tension and stiffness after a run, please get in touch:
Currently we are running an offer for Buy 4 Massage & get 5th sessions FREE!
Blog by Kieran Yon – Sports Massage Therapist