Are you increasing your training mileage to run for a longer distance than you’ve ever completed before? Do you suffer from chronic or recurring injuries? Are you training for a big race goal, maybe a PR finish time or a big age-group win?
If you run more than once a week or even just train hard at the gym regularly, I highly recommend incorporating massage therapy into your training plan and budget.
I have been attending regular massage therapy appointments to prevent running injuries for several years while training for and running road marathons and ultra trail races. For my needs, I prefer to get either monthly or bi-weekly massages, depending on my mileage and whether or not I am dealing with any current or nagging injuries.
When we run, our muscles shorten and tighten. Yes, regular stretching and foam-rolling post-run will help, but a hands-on approach by a certified massage therapist can pinpoint the sources of tightness, pain and other issues and treat them on the spot and over time.
IMPORTANT: Although massages can be helpful when recovering from injuries, it is best to seek professional medical advice from your doctor if you suspect you have a serious injury or one that bothers you for more than a week.
A qualified massage therapist knows how to warm up your muscles gently and then progress to deeper tissue work to elongate the muscles. Therapeutic massage involves applying deep pressure and is designed to be corrective to soft tissue. This can help you recover more quickly; improve performance and flexibility; relieve muscle and tightness; restore range of motion in joints; and improve circulation.
In addition to my regular massage sessions, I enjoy a pre-race massage to relax and alleviate muscle tension before race weekend – typically an appointment 3-5 days before the endurance event. Post-race massages are also worthwhile, especially if you skipped the pre-race massage session. You should schedule your post-race massage when muscles are no longer sore to the touch or when used, typically 3-5 days after an event.
You can maximize the benefits of massage therapy by regularly scheduling sessions instead of booking single sessions to prevent or solve problems. You can view it as a reward for training if that helps you to stay motivated. Massage therapy works best as a preventative measure instead of curatively, so it’s best to be proactive instead of making an appointment when something hurts.
Online reviews on Facebook, YELP, or Google are an excellent starting point when you are looking for a massage therapist. Once you find one that seems appropriate for you, check their certifications and if you meet with them, ask how long they have been practicing. A skilled massage therapist will be eager to discuss their experience, education and work history, as well as their approach or philosophy in regards to massage therapy.
This is especially important because every massage therapist has a different mindset and methodology in how they practice. Some might practice with a sports-medicine mindset, others might strive to provide a primarily relaxing experience. Make sure what they provide is in line with your goals and communicate regularly once you begin therapy.
The good news is your gym might have a provider that’s right for you, so in addition to online searches, check with our staff! We have a therapist you can start working with today.
Jessica Diaz is an ultra runner, loving wife & mother, owner of a Siberian Husky, RRCA Running Coach & Race Director, as well as Digital Manager at The GYM Cape Carteret Aquatic & Wellness and CEO of Diaz Media Marketing.