Massage therapy is an important part of any physical training regime. When it comes to preparing to run a big race or take part in endurance running, certain massage techniques can improve your ability and help you to beat your personal best or run for longer without becoming worn-out.
Your muscles need attention just like your skin, brain and emotions. Working the muscles too hard and expecting them to be able to do the same amount of exercise day after day will not work – in fact, too much practice will lead to extensive muscle damage and a long recovery which will keep you off the track for months at a time.
Deep tissue massages are great for runners, as they provide healing and muscle repairing benefits. However, these intense massage techniques are another form of work-out for the leg muscles, which your body will need time to recover from. So, it is best to give yourself 2-3 days between massage and race to heal fully. Similarly, a deep tissue massage is most effective 2-3 days after you finish your competition.
The benefits of massage for runners include:
Relaxing muscle Tension – releasing the tension in the leg muscles can prevent cramping and tearing due to over-stretching tense muscle groups. This prevents both long recovery times and immense amounts of pain.
Repairing Muscle Damage – Over time, muscles can develop small tears – these are not extreme enough to keep runners off the track or require medical intervention, but they will make you slower and more easily tired. A deep tissue massage can help to soothe the aches and pains and increase the flow of healing hormones to the affected areas.
Reducing Internal Scar Tissue Build-up – All exercise can cause small tears in the muscle and fascia, when these heal, small amounts of scar tissue are left over and over time, this can build up and cause friction when muscles are used. This friction is painful for runners and will cause you to slow down, or workout less frequently, affecting your performance. Massages for runners work to reduce this scar tissue to prevent the negative consequences to your ability, speed and longevity.
Improved Circulation – the main benefit of massages for runners is an increase in circulatory performance. Blood flow allows muscles and surrounding tissue to heal faster and more efficiently, letting you get back to practising sooner and improving your overall performance and ability. The same reason you wear compression socks, but taking a more targeted approach.
Deep tissue massages are the most common massage techniques used for athletes and runners, but there are two other massage types available. Sports massage combines pressure point therapy with traditional massage and breaks up the scar tissue and works to heal small tears in the tissue or muscle. This technique is as intense as the deep tissue techniques, and should be given the same timeframe surrounding events and workouts. Swedish massages are the traditional, relaxing techniques commonly seen in romantic comedies – feel free to get a Swedish massage any time before or after a race to relieve stress and feel more comfortable.