As marathon season looms, many of those who have signed up and dedicated themselves to a 2019 marathon will no doubt be underway with some initial training, (or thinking about it anyway!)
Although it may be “early days” in terms of distance, many of the brave souls who plan to run them 26 miles next year may already be running distances they have never before managed, and although many will wait for the frivolities and over-indulgence of Christmas to be out the way before really throwing themselves into serious training, NOW is the time to start thinking and planning on how you can stay injury free.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but prevention really is better than cure when it comes to the body, and what would be worse than months of gruelling, life-dominating training (Sunday morning long runs, booze free nights out, spending your hard earned cash on the new gadgets and gear), only to reach Feb/March next year and be hit with an injury?
Unfortunately many people out there perceive massage as a luxury. (Obviously I’m slightly biased being a soft tissue therapist with 13 years’ experience of working with the body and seeing the results), but I consider regular, good-quality soft tissue work an absolute, body-saving, must-have (for everyone – not just runners).
So as you begin to think about and plan, and maybe even start your training…… have a little read on to see how sports therapy sessions may help you.
BENEFITS OF SPORTS MASSAGE
· Improved flexibility – massage deliberately stretches and pulls muscles and other structures around, meaning the movement of these structures, and the joints that they cross, can be improved and restrictions reduced – resulting in greater range of movement.
Assisted stretching and techniques such as PNF stretching & Myofascial release can also help to improve areas of restricted flexibility, and may be called on in treatment.
Massage also removes adhesions found between muscles & fascia, allowing the 2 structures to glide over one another freely, which is an important factor in the normal function of working muscles.
· Improved circulation – blood flow through muscles is increased during massage, bringing fresh nutrients and oxygen to the area, and helping to remove by-products and waste – helping recovery, restoration and general well-being.
· Relaxation of tight muscles – massage and other modalities will help to combat stored, or residual tension found within the muscles, especially as the longer runs creep into training and muscles begin to work harder than ever before.
· Improved stability & strength – sports therapy assessments, and rehabilitation can help to identify areas lacking strength or stability that may put you at increased risk of injury. Home care rehab exercises can be included in the treatment packages in order to address these issues.
· Old injury sites will contain collagen fibres or ‘Scar tissue’. This scar tissue it less pliable than the tissue it has replaced, and therefore mobility / flexibility and pliability at an old injury site is hindered. Manual Therapy can normalise the tissue structures around an old injury site meaning the muscle as a whole can work better.
· Psychologically, massage can help with the anxiety of training for a big event, and having the support of a qualified therapist and somewhere to turn to for advise can have a great impact on training. Giving yourself a regular time-slot to have a bit of down-time, and have any issues addressed is a therapeutic experience, and can reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being that you can take into your training and general life.
· Overall wellbeing - One study noted that the number of one type of White blood cell were boosted post massage (white blood cells are good for our immunity), and Cortisol levels (the stress hormone) were reduced. Both factors will influence our immunity and overall well-being – key when you are training at intense levels.
In an ideal, (time-free and money-flush world), you would receive a massage once every 2-3 weeks in the 4 months leading up to your run, shortening this gap to a treatment every 1-2 weeks at the peak of your training. However, understanding that this commitment is sometimes too financially and time-burden difficult, aiming for a massage once a month in the 4 months leading up the run, and being prepared to pop a couple of extra sessions in at the peak of training, is sure to still help.
By starting a good 4/5 months before the race date, time is allowed for long-standing tension patterns / weakness or imbalances from previous injury or current poor-biomechanics, to be identified and, (more importantly), enough of a decent time-frame to actually address them.
Increasing treatments during the peak training period really keeps on top of things, as you push your body to the longer distances and prepare for the run itself.
Calling on a Pre event massage, 7-1 days before the event itself, can be a great preparatory step both physically and mentally for a marathon. Prepping the muscles close to the event to improve performance, relieve pre-race nerves, ready the body and ease away any last minute tensions can give you the best performance on the day, important if you are aiming to beat a P.B.
And let’s not forget the post even treatment in the week following the run, because, let’s face it, you’ll deserve it by then and anything to help with the post-run ache will be welcomed, and it has been proven in studies that massage helps to alleviate DOMS (that post exercise ache).
I’ve supported many runners, some brand new to running, some seasoned marathoners, but in all honesty I can say that those who’ve committed to looking after their bodies, and value the role massage plays in their training, have reaped the injury-free benefits and completed their runs to the best of their body-ability.
Check out the 'runners block booking' special offer currently running with Away Pain Therapy, and get in touch for more info on how we can help you in your marathon quest.
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Fanatic about functional anatomy, my home often resembles a students dorm room with anatomy and therapy text books strewn about on a regular basis. I like to keep abreast on the industry, and when time allows between mummy-duties, I read trade magazines, books and journal articles, to help me prep & plan treatment plans & rehab.