Here in Canada we are just turning the corner into heavy race running season and timely enough the St. Lawrence Marathon just took place right here in Cornwall, and the Cornwall Triathlon, Duathlon and 5km will take place at the end of August! To all of you runners, when was the last time you took your body in for a tune-up? You’ve invested plenty of time and money into your training, your quality running shoes, and the perfect gear for you — but you may not be investing enough time and money into your self-care and most importantly your recovery.
If you take your car in for routine maintenance, the better it runs, right? Routine massage can work the same for your bod: It can lead to better performance and a decrease in common injuries.
Many running athletes might agree with the idea that consistent work will efficiently create more consistent performances. The same can be said for taking care of your body. Consistent recovery and care for your body will help with more consistency in your training.
Getting a massage isn’t just about releasing tight muscles — it’s about helping the whole body.
Massage therapy can help release your membrane that connects all your muscles and tendons — and this can help improve your overall mobility. When one tight muscle pulls on nearby structure during a run, it can disrupt the integrity of the entire joint or body around it. A shortened muscle decreases range of motion and any circulation to those compressed tissues.
Specifically, there are three common massage techniques that each serve recovery and relaxation purposes:
- Swedish massage. This technique incorporates a combination of light-to-firm pressure and longer strokes to encourage relaxation.
- Deep tissue massage. This technique is a lot like Swedish massage but uses a higher concentration of firm pressure and slower strokes in specific areas.
- Trigger point therapy. This technique uses pressure in specific points that are correlated with certain muscle pain patterns.
A good massage therapist knows which techniques to use to meet their clients’ needs. But keep in mind that they don’t have to market always themselves as a “sports massage therapist” in order to help you.
The specific timing of a massage ahead of a run can depend on the type of massage you get and how your body reacts to it. If you’re getting massages regularly, your massage therapist should know your body well enough to do what works for you.
However, running after a massage can be like jumping into a mud bath after a shower. A light session to help work out any lingering kinks after is fine, but a hard run typically isn’t great idea.
If you’re using massage therapy to rehab an injury, definitely give yourself the time with a rest day to avoid overworking the areas that may be still require healing.
At the end of the day, rest and recovery are vital parts of any exercise regimen. Just like running training is key for improvement, massage consistency can be the key for extending your career in the sport.
Search for a qualified massage therapist to help you make a schedule for your next race or training cycle, and communicate what works best for you.
Give it a shot. Your muscles will probably appreciate the maintenance.
-Shannon Lapointe, RMT