Benefits of Sports Massage for Marathon Runners:
- It helps to decrease the recovery time between training sessions especially after longer runs
- Helps to identify areas of tightness by compensations when training
- It decreases the likelihood of injuries due to the repetitive nature of running
- Helps to maintain flexibility and pliability of muscles allowing them to function effectively
- Maintains the condition of the actual muscles tissue as it encourages the re-organisation of muscle architecture by returning the muscle to its normal length
- Decreases the amount of stiffness experienced after an increase in mileage
- Think of it as a reward for your legs
When should you have a massage?
Most people find scheduling appointments on the lighter training days (usually Thursday or Friday) more beneficial. This is mainly because it enables the therapist to treat any specific muscular tightness allowing a couple of days recovery before the long training run on Sundays.
Alternatively some runners enjoy having the massage following their longer run to allow them to maximise their training performances throughout the week.
It is suggested that whilst people are training for a half or full marathon they receive weekly massages. It is especially important to have massage towards the build-up to the longer training weeks, usually placed about 4 weeks prior to the marathon.
It is seen to be more valuable to receive massage as soon as possible following the event. As this helps to improve the recovery rate and reduces the intensity of delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) experienced 1-3 days post marathon.
The style of massage is different from those received before the event or in other treatment sessions as it is geared at aiding the lymphatic system in its attempt at waste removal and recovery. Therefore, the massage techniques are applied more gently and fluently. As micro damage to the muscle tissue occurs during longer runs and the marathon the massage will be lighter also.
Understanding Injuries and the Healing Process:
Injuries are very common especially in sports. It is crucial they are treated appropriately to avoid causing long term problems. Understanding the healing process will help explain what the body goes through after injury.
Whenever an injury has occurred, an inflammatory process will start. This is true whether you have had a soft-tissue injury or a fracture. The initial stages of inflammation involve swelling as the tissues start to heal themselves. The injured tissue is then gradually absorbed and new tissue is laid down.
The degree and location of your injury will determine whether you need to seek treatment. You will have a faster return to sport and will ensure the best recovery if your injury is seen straight away rather than waiting for it to become chronic or for other problems to develop.
Speeding up the healing process:
- When there is swelling, in the initial stages of injury, use RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
- Start gentle movements of the injured area. There may be a small amount of discomfort, but it is generally better to keep a joint moving, to avoid it becoming stiff. The movement also helps pump away the swelling.
- As the swelling subsides, gentle stretches can be commenced. This is normally when the new tissue is being laid down and the stretches help align the tissue, as it heals
- As the movement returns it is essential to start strength exercises. People quite often focus too heavily on stretching and forget about the importance of strengthening