The physical demand of a runner is very high, especially for those training up for an event. After only a couple of runs your muscles begin to shorten and build significant tension leading to reduced blood supply to the muscles and decreased range of movement (ROM).
A reduced blood supply will have a negative on the amount of oxygen available to the muscles and metabolic waste removed, leading to reduced performance. Whereas, a decrease in ROM leads to altered running technique and increased likelihood of suffering a muscle strain or other sport injury.
The miles of repetitive activity takes its tole on the body and increases your susceptibility to suffering injury which could set you back weeks or even months. However, sports massage is a valuable tool at the disposal to all runners that can help to reverse negative effects sustained from training and can be the difference between making it to the start line fully fit, raring to go and not making the start line at all.
Sports massage is regularly used within sport and is highly recommended by many runners of all abilities to anyone in any form of training to help with recovery and prevent injury.
The Sports Massage Association defines sports massage as, “the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons and ligaments”. The benefits associated with sports massage include;
Sports massage effectively works to improve recovery in runners by increasing the blood and lymphatic flow. This encourages the removal of post-training inflammation and metabolic waste but also improves the oxygen supply to the muscles to significantly speed up recovery times and reduce muscle soreness caused by excessive waste product.
Sports massage also enhances the recovery of injuries that may have been picked up while running, it works to remove swelling from the area to allow new tissue to be laid down quicker. While the new tissue is being laid down, massage can be used to influence the organisation of the tissue so that it is laid down in the most effective and efficient way possible.
The benefit of this is that your muscles will be able to use its blood supply more efficiently because of the reduced muscle tension, resulting in improved performance. Also, as the length and pliability of the muscle improves it can then be stretched further so that you can ultimately run with a less restricted technique which improves performance.
In regards to injury prevention, the increased length in muscle means that there is a reduced likelihood of injury occurring.
Unfortunately, there is no correct answer and usually depends on your requirements. However, for any regular runners out there or anyone increasing their training load and building up to an event e.g. Great North Run, I’d recommend having a sports massage as often as possible (once weekly/biweekly) to make sure your body is kept in good condition and to prevent any niggles from becoming a full blown injury.
Having one massage before an event will have little effect, your body responds best to repeated massages over several weeks and I have no doubt that any keen runner out there that’s had sports massages will tell you that it’s money well spent.
Anyways, thanks again for reading and if you’d like any further information please let me know.
Max Sports Therapy