Massage therapy for runners

by admin on October 25, 2013


The perfect season for running is upon us here in Florida as we start to dip down into the mild temperatures and we have a little less rain than the typical summer months. Many runners are working to beat their personal record and others are training to complete their first race. Whatever your skill level may be, you will want to restore your body with massage therapy before, during, and after your training.  


Pre-Event Massage

A pre-event massage can be either a brief 5-8 minute massage on-site the day of the event or a full body massage up to 48 hours before the event.  Light to moderate pressure is used rather than deep tissue or very specific work.  This is not the time to begin a series of neuromuscular sessions for that low back pain you’ve been dealing with for years.  The intention is to loosen muscles and increase blood flow to tight areas.  Your therapist may also assist you in some gentle stretches to complement your usual warm up routine.  It’s important for the therapist not to change the athlete’s normal rhythm or range of motion in this critical time prior to the event, as this can alter timing and performance.


Post-Event Massage   

Post-event massage is performed on site shortly after the race or within a couple days after.  The purpose of post-event massage is to enhance recovery of fatigued muscles and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness often caused by micro-tearing of the muscle fibers and fascia along with inflammation. It is a common misconception that the build up of lactic acid is the cause of muscle soreness and massage therapy will help to flush it out.  Lactic acid is a necessary byproduct that is released during muscle exertion and is naturally absorbed by the body within a short period following activity.  Massage therapy does facilitate the recovery process as studies have shown that it reduces inflammation and, on a cellular level, increases production of mitochondria, the “powerhouse” of a cell.  Post-event massage will also help to calm nerves and reduce heart rate after a race when a cool down routine is sometimes overlooked.


Massage Therapy During Training      

Just as you would invest in the right running shoes or nutritional products to protect yourself from injury and enhance performance, you’ll want to invest in massage therapy for these same reasons.  Training puts high demands on your muscles and stress on your body.  For many people, this training is completely beyond their normal activity levels.  A skilled therapist will be able to address the muscles that will suffer as a result of the increased demands. Forget the idea of massage being a well deserved luxury to treat yourself after a long Saturday run.  Consider it as a regular part of your training program.  Scheduling frequent massages with a soft tissue expert is one of the best ways to ensure a long journey of healthy, injury-free running.


Sheree Bagensie is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Healthy Habits Massage Therapy in Port St. Lucie, She is Secretary of the Treasure Coast Chapter of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and  FSMTA sports team member.  She has completed two half marathons through the Galloway Training program.   


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