MASSAGE THERAPY FOR RUNNERS
Jeff Gaudette provides information to runners about types and timing of massage therapy in an article from 2013 in Competitor.com “The Four Best types of Massage For Runners”. I’ve never had a “sports” massage. After reading his piece I am a bit uncertain I’ll know which technique would most benefit my training. I’ve thought of it as something done to treat oneself and to relax AFTER a race. This seems to be true of the Swedish of massage. However, much of the discussion concerns the strategy and benefits of getting massages PRIOR to racing.
His advice about scheduling this service 3-5 or 7-10 days before a big race, especially with the deeper forms of this therapy, was eye-opening for me. I had not considered that one needs time to recover from a massage! It seems more important than ever to find a therapist who is well trained and has experience working with runners, and to become better informed about it as a training tool. The other types of massage Gaudette discusses are Active Release Therapy (A.R.T.) and trigger point massage, which are used to treat injuries, and deep tissue massage.
Embedded in his article is a link to a short instructive video by Sage Rountree that provides a similar message about timing. I liked her general statement to guide scheduling, that the closer you are to a race, the more gentle the massage should be. It’s a rule of thumb that’s easy to remember.
Scientific evidence seems to support claims that massage aids recovery from tough workouts and races in runners, helping them train harder with less soreness, and less stiffness that can lead to injury. A 2014 Runner’s World article by Kelly Bastone, “The Pro’s and Con’s of Massages for Runners” reviews some of the research in this area. The benefits of self-massage by foam rolling (I am a fan), is touched on as well.
Running can become an expensive and time-consuming sport activity. Finding ways to keep expenditure of both within reason is helpful. Because this kind of training aid may seem to be only for elites, I appreciated the comment, “Even beginning runners can benefit from massage, because alleviating the soreness that comes with starting a new sport makes people more likely to stick with it”.
Additional discussion on research that’s being conducted, to explore mechanisms by which massage benefits muscle, is provided by Alex Hutchinson in a more recent 2015 Runner’s World article, “Massage May Boost Muscle Regeneration”. The studies performed on rabbits, especially the muscle biopsy findings, were of interest to me, having been trained and worked as a pathologist involved in research. Quantifying changes of regeneration is not an easy task; employing an objective method to measure muscle changes after massage takes a big step towards better understanding of such processes.
Hutchinson reports on the biopsy findings in the exercised/massaged leg versus the opposite leg that was not exercised or massaged: greater generation of new blood vessels, the presence of less scar tissue, and a greater percentage of regeneration muscle fibers. The “differences aren’t huge” he indicates, but the evidence suggests that, in rabbits, massage does help stimulate muscle repair and that immediate massage was more effective than delayed massage. His article is very well written and would be especially valuable to those wishing to understand the science of muscle repair and recover as it relates to athletics.
These article have given me enough inspiration to search for a qualified expert in sports massage and to think about asking loved ones for a gift certificate for a birthday present.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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