Runners love getting massages. Not only does it feel great, but it can also speed recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and facilitate injury healing. However, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to massage. When is the best time to get one? What type is best for runners? What common mistakes should I be wary of?
What type of massage is best for runners
It’s not surprising that runners get a little confused about what type of massage would benefit them most. Wikipedia lists 31 different types of massage. Of course, some of these are obviously not specifically beneficial to athletes, but runners can go beyond the typical “sports massage” to get results. The following are the five most beneficial types of massages for runners:
Active release technique, also known as A.R.T. is a massage technique that combines movement with specific, deep pressure to help relieve muscle adhesions and reduce scar tissue build-up.
During an A.R.T session, the therapist uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and mobility of the soft tissue and then works to break up these adhesions with their hands, as well as the movement of the muscle.
The active release is best used when treating a specific injury, especially one where the formation of scar tissue impacts the ability of the body to heal itself. Most notably, A.R.T. is an effective treatment method for hamstring injuries, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.
Swedish Massage or Effleurage
Swedish massage is the most well-known of the massage modalities and is often associated with relaxation and pampering. However, Swedish massage can also benefit runners, especially before big competitions.
Swedish massage utilizes long, flowing strokes of various pressure, although usually light, to release muscle tension and increase blood flow.
Swedish massage is best used in the days before big competitions or as a recovery tool after hard workouts. The lighter, relaxing strokes help relieve stress and muscle tension without damaging the muscles, which is important if you have a big race approaching. A Swedish massage before a race, especially if you’re coming off a hard week of training, can help you re-energize, relax, and build your confidence in your ability to run fast.
Trigger point therapy is a massage modality that targets muscle knots and areas of referred pain in the muscle tissue. Therapists target and find knots in the muscles or areas of referred pain and use deep pressure to help loosen the adhesions.
Like A.R.T., trigger point therapy is best used to treat injuries. Specifically, trigger point therapy is effective in the treatment of IT band tightness, calf strains (did you read our post looking at the association between age and calf injuries), and hamstring injuries.
Deep tissue massage
Most runners are familiar with deep tissue massage, which is often confused with deep pressure (like when you say “go harder”). Deep tissue massage targets both the superficial and deep layers of muscles and fascia and are often quite intense due to the deliberate, focused work.
Deep tissue massages typically focus on a few specific problem areas and, unlike trigger point therapy, work the entire muscle. Because runners often have quite a few tight spots and interconnected issues, deep tissue massage is often the modality of choice during hard training segments.
When should you get a massage and how often?
The frequency at which you get a massage is completely up to you and depends on how much you like massage, how hard you’re training, and your budget.
If you’re able to afford it, getting a monthly or weekly massage can help prevent injuries by catching tight areas before they become problematic. If it is not possible to fit a recurring massage in your budget, consider one or two per training segment during your hardest training block or when you’re performing more intense speed work, which tends to elicit injuries that can be treated by massage, like tight hamstrings or hips.
I always recommend that runners get a massage either the evening after a hard workout or the next morning. If the therapist is going deep or using methods like A.R.T., the muscles can often be sore or lethargic for a few days after a massage. Timing the massage as close to your last hard workout gives your body the most amount of time to recover and feel back to normal.
If you plan on getting a massage before your next big race, schedule it at least 3-5 days from the race. If it’s been a while since your last massage, stick to further out. Also note that the deeper the massage, the longer it takes for the body to recover and respond – just like running workouts.
Misconceptions and things to watch out for with massage
With those guidelines in mind, here are a few common mistakes runners make with massage:
Drink water lots of water after the session to help flush out some of the toxins and waste products that were flushed from the muscles. Some people report feeling sick after hard massage sessions. Generally, this means the muscles released a lot of toxins, and drinking extra water will clear them out.
Massage does not have to hurt to be effective. While working on a tight, troubled area will certainly cause some discomfort, it shouldn’t leave bruising or cause you to jump off the table. If you do find yourself consistently bruised after massage sessions, your therapist may be going too hard.
It takes time to recover and not feel lethargic after a hard massage. If your legs feel a little dead the next day, that’s ok. This is why it’s important to schedule at least one easy day between a hard massage and a hard workout.
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Runners
Massage is among the oldest of the healing arts. References to massage and its values go back to the beginnings of recorded history. Among the most widely recognized benefits of massage are:
•Improve your range of motion
•Release of stress
•Relieve your tired feet with Reflexology
• Release of emotional and physical tension
• Reduction or elimination of back pain
• Relief from sore muscles • Relaxation
• Increased energy
•Change in your nervous system- from sympathetic to parasympathetic
•Great for post and pre-sports events
•Ease medication dependence.
•Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
•Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
•Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
•Lessen depression and anxiety.
•Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue, and stretch marks.
•Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
•Reduce post-surgery adhesions and swelling.
•Reduce spasms and cramping.
•Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
•Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
•Relieve migraine pain.
•Blood pressure control •Infant growth
• Decrease in chronic pain and pain management
• Improved sleep • Greater mobility and flexibility
• Improved body and mind awareness
•Reduced fatigue Profound Effects In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:
- Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
- Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak airflow.
- Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
- High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
- Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
- Preterm infants have improved weight gain.
Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat post-surgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process. Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.
more info @: https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20842798/the-pros-and-cons-of-massages-for-runners/ https://strengthrunning.com/2014/05/benefits-of-massage-for-runners/ https://www.active.com/running/articles/when-should-runners-get-a-deep-tissue-massage
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.