What is the best kind of massage for runners?
Are you dealing with a chronic, nagging injury?
Did you just get hurt from a fall or sprain?
Do you have a race this weekend?
Did you just complete a long run?
Exactly where you are in your training cycle and any pain or restrictions you are experiencing should inform your massage therapist what you need in your massage. A recent injury that presents redness, acute pain, swelling, or heat should not receive massage work. Depending upon the injury, a doctor, orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist, or just plain rest and ice may be the best route. However, if you are healing from an injury like an ankle sprain or hamstring pull, massage work can help the connective tissue and muscle fibers heal with minimal scar tissue. Scar tissue that remains from older injuries can be broken up by deeper techniques. Your body then metabolizes the excess tissue. Less scar tissue means less impedance in motion and a faster runner. Also, massage can help rebalance joint movement and also increase the efficiency of movement of the runner.
If you have a race coming up, deep tissue should not be used within a few days of the event. It takes time for the body to heal and realign from a deep tissue massage and no runner wants to add those metabolic processes to the few days leading up to a run. However, lighter massage like Swedish can relax the tissues, relax the mind, and help the runner be in the best state for extreme effort both physiologically and mentally.
For the couple of days after an event, massage can help restore the body by reducing inflammation while speeding the healing of torn muscle fibers and fascia. Plus, it just feels so good!
For chronic, nagging pain, massage has quite a few benefits. Chronic issues can be caused by underlying muscle imbalances, joint problems, postural misalignment, or poor healing due to insufficient recovery time, nutrition, or hydration. A massage by a knowledgeable and curious massage therapist can help point the runner in the right direction towards correcting the problem. Working the origin and attachment of affected muscles, and helping to realign posture towards an efficient pattern can be a positive step towards a more rewarding training schedule. Also, strength training for weak or improperly firing muscles can help make the runner improve times. The massage therapist may need to refer a runner with advanced issues to a physical trainer, chiropractor, physical therapist, or orthopedic surgeon.
Intelligently applied massage therapy can help the amateur or professional runner achieve goals. Don't miss out on this accessible and dramatic way to get the most out of your training.
Andrea Maria Schafer, LMT #5026