Massage – Runners’ Best Friend

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If you are reading this it is because you are already familiar with the benefits of massage for your overall well-being – be it physical or mental. But there are some specific reasons that make deep, therapeutic massage a particularly good partner for any fitness enthusiast, but in particular those pounding the treadmills and pavements of London. Sport & Remedial Massage can elicit a range of specific responses:

Stimulated blood circulation, increased diameter of blood vessels and decreased blood pressure, which means better delivery of nutritive materials and oxygen to surrounding cells and tissues and relief from muscle soreness and fatigue

Enhanced circulation reduces muscle tension, assists the disposal of waste by-products and hastens recovery time

Improved flexibility and range of motion, which in turn improves muscle efficiency and performance and reduces the risk of injury

Decreased adhesion formation and scar tissue build-up within muscle fibres, improving pliability of fascia and connective tissue

Reduced stress and anxiety, which promotes relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system

These effects speak for themselves yet it is important to understand their implications, know the facts and plan wisely:

The benefits of massage are cumulative: receiving one massage prior to the race will not reap the same benefits as a regular programme of massage therapy

The longevity of these benefits will vary with each individual and each fitness regime. Most effects of massage are relatively short-lived, with the exception of scar tissue reduction.

Because running is a repetitive action performed over consecutive days and increasing distances, the weekly mileage covered by an average runner will cause muscles to shorten or contract, fascia to bind and restrictions to set in again and create the need for another massage. Runners can extend the life of their massage with proper hydration, good nutrition, adequate sleep and stretching, stretching and did I mention – stretching!

Massage treatment plans are very individual. Assess your running goals and your budget take into consideration your injury history, are you pushing your limits and reaching for a new goal, how much time and money can you set aside for regular massage therapy? Whether the answer is a weekly or a monthly routine, the most important goal is to set a regular schedule rather than react to the niggles and pains as they arise

Scheduling the timing of your treatments is as logical as setting your training plan: note the dates of your long runs and key workouts or races. For example, if you do a long run every weekend, schedule a massage a day or two after them to help speed up recovery and for your therapist to check for any overload issues. Schedule your pre-race massage and post-race massages 3-5 days before and after the event.

Remember – massage therapy works best as part of a preventative programme. Should you sustain an actual injury, seeking medical attention comes first. Only after proper diagnosis and treatment can massage therapy become part of the recovery and rehabilitation process, most often in tandem with your physiotherapy treatment.

Conclusion – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Happy running!

30th June 2011