Massage Tips for Runners

October is a month for runners in Chicago. You may be acutely aware of the aches that have resulted from long months of Marathon training or recommitting to your regular jog with the onset of cool fall mornings. Knowing how to utilize bodywork to support your goals can greatly affect your wellness and results. How often should a runner receive massage? If you are running the marathon, should you schedule a massage before or after the event?

In an ideal world, runners would receive massage therapy at least once a month to support muscle health and recovery time, alleviate tension on joints, and minimize risk of injury. Results are cumulative. One massage will not “fix” an injury or area of chronic pain that is the result of years of muscle contraction. However, regular massage can greatly reduce discomfort and serve as one of the best preventative measures against further injury. Proper hydration and stretching and the best companions to support and prolong massage therapy results.

Whether or not you have been able to appreciate the benefits of regular massage during training, bodywork can still greatly assist before a long run or after for speedy recovery.

Athletes that receive regular massage and know their bodies’ response may choose to receive massage 3-5 days prior to a long run. This can support the healing process, relax muscles, release natural endorphins, and prepare your body to be strong and healthy. A less specific massage is recommended rather than a session that aims to address postural issues or chronic pain.

If you do not receive regular bodywork, schedule your massage at least a week prior to a big run. Soreness can result and postural realigning could occur with release of contracted muscle groups. These are positive signs but your body will need time to assimilate and adjust.  In the days before an event, aim to relax your muscles as much as possible. The micro-tearing that occurs during strenuous training is healing and your body is eliminating the metabolic waste from this process.

Always inform your massage therapist that you are a runner and if you are preparing for an event. They will alter their technique to assure optimal results. Drink plenty of water after your massage. The lymphatic stimulation and proper hydration will assist your muscles to heal and be in top condition.

Massage after a long run can greatly reduce recovery time and is a wonderful way to reward your body for accomplishing an amazing feat. Type and intensity of massage will depend on your body’s needs and its ability to accept the work. This is not the time to endure pain but to listen to what your system requests. A gentle massage may be needed to quiet spasm, flush metabolic waste and release endorphins needed to heal. Hydration is especially important in conjunction with a post event massage. The benefits of post event massage are greatest within the first 48 hours following the run.

Congratulations on your commitment to your health and wellness. Happy running!

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