By Ella, Sports Massage Therapist
Running is one of the most popular ways for people to stay active. Especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, it seems to have become a national pastime. Running requires virtually no equipment, has no age limit and can easily fit into even the busiest schedule.
But running is also an activity that’s prone to overuse injuries.
For individuals that run regularly, are training consistently and occasionally run marathons, the yearly injury incidence can be as high as 50%*. The research isn’t consistent about the causes or risk factors, but what can be agreed upon is there are a lot of people hurting themselves unnecessarily.
So why Sports Massage Therapy? How can Sports Massage help? Do I need it even if I’m not injured?
First of all, massage therapy has been shown to be very effective in speeding up and aiding the recovery process for many running overuse injuries such as:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Runner’s or Jumper’s Knee
- Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
- Achille’s tendinopathy
Secondly, prevention is key to a healthy runner’s life. Due to the prevalence of overuse injuries and the major setbacks an injury can have, it’s important to take steps to minimise injury. Using massage therapy treatments in conjunction with proper warm ups, cool downs, stretching and strength training routines, can give you the highest chance of staying injury-free.
Why is massage therapy a key part of prevention?
Regular massage treatments help to reduce muscular tension and increase circulation. This, in turn, will reduce the pull and strain on tendons and ligaments around the most vulnerable parts of your body such as the knees and ankles. In addition, increasing blood flow and circulation to the muscles sends more nutrients and oxygen to saturate the muscles that may be overworked. This allows for easier recovery from normal microdamage to the tissues following a run.
Another incredible benefit of massage treatments for runners is during the recovery time. Massage therapy can reduce muscle soreness, promote circulation to speed up recovery, and reduce overall stress (including reducing hormones such as cortisol).
When should you schedule a sports massage?
Runners always ask me, when should they get a massage to get the most out of these amazing benefits?
There are optimal times to schedule a massage, especially if you are training for a race or about to participate in a marathon. Getting the most out of your massage while ensuring you aren’t at a higher risk for injury can be hard to figure out alone, but that’s what I’m here for:
If you are looking for a deep tissue massage to relieve tension, get your treatment 2-3 days before your race. You don’t want your legs feeling like jelly right before a race.
Although, if you feel like you need loosening up right before a race, a massage can be beneficial provided the therapist is using sports techniques that are quick and not too deep to increase blood flow and mobility.
Post-Race or Post-workout:
After a hard workout, the body needs time to recover. The ideal time for a massage treatment is 1-2 days post-event to speed up the recovery process without minimising normal body processes.
Every individual runner is different. Your body responds differently based on how you’re running, when you’re running, what other activities you’re doing. Therefore every massage therapy treatment plan is tailored to your individual needs. Start your sports massage journey today to keep being a healthy and injury free runner!