Don’t Forget About Massage on Those Recovery Days
Congratulations! It’s a new year and you promised yourself a few things before the year began. You have written down your goals for what you want to achieve this year and you have formulated a plan to achieve those goals. One of those goals is to run a half marathon or if you have already run one, you want to take the big plunge and invest your time and energy into running a full marathon. You know that this is something that you cannot take lightly. You understand that running a long distance race is something that you have to take seriously and prepare and train for. You will need the right attitude, the right tools, and be educated about how to take care of your body so that it can accomplish what you are asking it to do. You already have the right attitude or you would not be following up on your resolution to run. How about the right tools? Pair of running shoes or three? Check! Weekly guide on how to gradually increase mileage? Check! Taking in the appropriate amounts of carhohydates, proteins and unsaturated fats to support the load you place on the body? Check! Weekly massage? Whoa, what! What do you mean? If you are not checking off massage as part of your weekly preparation for the long race, you are doing yourself a disservice. Think about it. You are carefully planning the weeks ahead of increased mileage separated by planned off days. It is recommended to use your off days to recover from the previous days run. Off days are the days to ice your pains and injuries, but a sports massage that focuses on any areas of pain is just as good a method to reduce pain and is more comforting and relaxing.
A good Sports Massage performed by a licensed massage therapist, preferably one who is trained in working with athletes in a maintenance and rehabilitative setting, stimulates the circulation of blood that in turn maximizes nutrient and oxygen intake. In addition to increasing circulation, sports massage benefits the runner by aiding the lymph system in reducing edema or swelling caused by metabolic by-products of exercise. Regular massage helps breaks down the knots that develop in over used muscles. A Sports Massage while providing TLC to over worked muscles also includes stretching prime muscles and antagonist muscles to increase flexibility and improve range of motion. The main idea behind regular or weekly sports massage is to help prevent injuries and aid in the timely healing of any injuries and decrease recovery time between workouts.
There are a few different types of Sports Massage to choose from. First there is pre-event and post-event massage that occurs the day of the big run. A massage given before the race is designed to pump up the runner and warm up specifically the muscles and tissues that will be utilized the most during the run like the calves, thighs, and hamstrings. A good pre-event massage will also incorporate joint mobilization to warm up the ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder joints as well. It is important to note that a massage does not replace a proper athletic warm up or cool down though. Where the pre-event massage gets the adrenaline pumping, a post event massage is designed to bring the runner back to earth and encourages rest/digest mode. A post-event massage reduces spasm and cramping as well as pain and promotes a faster return to activity. Sports Massage is not just relegated to day of event massage. A restorative or maintenance massage is given during training on your off days and according to your needs. Regular maintenance massage compounds already existing benefits of Sports Massage and helps the therapist and runner stay abreast of any potential problem areas and address them accordingly in a timely manner. Lastly, rehabilitative massage assists recovery from the long run and reduces adhesions and scar tissue caused by injury. It also reduces spasm, pain, and swelling and contributes to greater range of motion by breaking the inherent pain/spasm/pain cycle.
More and more sponsored running events are beginning to offer pre and post event massage on the day of the event. Many licensed massage therapists volunteer their time to work at these events as it helps spread the message about the benefits of Sports Massage. The Swedish Institute in New York City regularly hosts a massage tent staffed by the Swedish Institute Sports Team and Event Massage (SISTEM) and routinely over 100 massage therapists can treat close to 500 runners at marathons, half marathons, triathlons, and other athletic events. The next time you run and are waiting in line at the finish line for your after race water and bagel, look for the massage tent and do yourself a favor and stop by and let the therapists help take the pain away and usher you into a whole new understanding of what routine massage can accomplish for you in your competitive endeavors.
Licensed Massage Therapist