Running is one of the toughest, most rewarding, and most physically demanding forms of exercise. Any runner will understand that aching feeling that comes after a hard run, but not everyone knows that a professional massage therapist can pinpoint the cause of that pain and help relieve the discomfort and promote healthy muscles and peak performance. Massage can help both to prepare for and to help recover from intense workouts, and can be an important addition to a runner’s routine.
Massage for Runners: some FAQs
What are the benefits of a massage for runners?
Running is a high impact exercise which can be hard on all the joints and muscles of the body. Many runners swear by massage to improve performance and help prevent injuries and manage aches and pains. Massage designed specifically for runners will focus on those muscles and joints most likely to be damaged or sore by such high impact, high intensity exercise. It’s no coincidence that professional runners employ massage therapists as part of their essential teams, and that athletes have used massage to improve their performance and health since ancient times.
What makes a ‘sports massage’ special?
Therapists who specialise in sports massage use special techniques to prevent, assess, and treatment minor injuries associated with heavy use or high impact exercise. Painful muscles or joints can benefit from sports massage, as the manoeuvres used are designed to target the areas most likely to develop pain or injury. Sports massages are useful both before and after exercise, and usually use a mix of soft and deep tissue techniques, reaching all layers of the soft tissues. The focus of a sports massage can change depending on the areas of muscle most used by the individual, and an experienced massage therapist may ask questions about your activity to help deliver the most helpful therapy.
Can massage help with runners’ knee?
Runners’ knee can be caused by a number of different conditions, but broadly speaking is a painful, sometimes swollen knee, associated with hard work and high impact exercise. Massage can relieve the pain and promote healing and can also incorporate a deep assessment of the cause of the pain. A massage therapist who specialises in sports massage and injuries may be able to identify a root cause and advise; sometimes something as simple as changing running style or footwear can make a huge difference. An experienced massage therapist should also be able to give advice about when an injury requires assessment by a doctor, physiotherapist, or other specialist.
If you have concerns about any injury or serious pain, it’s important to consult your doctor.
How can I find massage for runners near me?
Many people start off with a quick search on the web to find local massage clinics, but not all clinics offer the same services or even equal quality. Word of mouth can be the best way to find a really good clinic, and if you’re a member of a gym or running club that’s a great place to get a recommendation. If you can’t get any recommendations from your friends or family, finding credible online reviews is extra important. Any massage clinic should be happy to discuss your specific needs before you make an appointment. Finding a good massage clinic could be one of the best decisions you ever make for your health and fitness routine. It’s okay to try a few one-off appointments before you find the clinic or individual that works best for you.
Can massage help after a marathon?
There are specific post-marathon massage techniques which a professional massage therapist can use, and these are delivered on an individualised basis while your therapist continuously assesses your needs and response. Everyone is different, and some people get better results from a lighter touch; some from a deeper massage. A marathon can put a lot of strain on the muscles, and massage can help speed recovery and relieve those post-marathon aches.
Should I get a massage before a marathon?
If you have regular massages and you know how your body responds to them, a massage before a big run can help prepare you and your body, but there’s no definite rule on when this should be. A deep tissue massage, while it can have great longer-term effects, can leave you with some discomfort for a day or so after, and might actually impair your performance. If you’ve been having regular massages as part of your exercise routine, you’ll know how your body feels afterwards, and the optimum time to have one; perhaps a few days beforehand. A lighter touch may help to prepare you for an intense workout; leave the deeper pressure for recovery.
How often should I get a massage?
It really depends on your budget and schedule, but adding a regular massage into your routine, whether once a week, once a month, or whatever suits you, can have big benefits in terms of physical and emotional health, muscle and joint health, and can improve your performance. Becoming a regular at a massage clinic means that you get to know the therapists there and they get to know you and your body, what techniques work best for you, and how your body feels in the hours and days after a massage. A longer term relationship with a massage clinic and therapist means you get the best, individualised care and a truly holistic approach. If that’s not possible, you can still get great benefits from an occasional or one-off appointment.
Professional and hobby runners alike can benefit from massage, whether before or after a big race, or as part of their regular fitness routine. Massage has therapeutic properties beyond the purely physical, too; just taking that time for yourself can be a meditative experience, and help you focus on your physical and mental or emotional needs. This can be especially important around the time of a big run, when you’re testing your body and stamina to the limit. Massage can be incredibly important for runners, not only physically but as a holistic therapy.