If you have ever been a recipient of massage therapy, you know how good it feels to have someone work your muscles and heal through touch. Massages can make you feel more relaxed, less stressed, and they can help you get better sleep. When done right, massage can aid in achieving fewer headaches and looser muscles. But what about post-run?
Massage after a Marathon
Any internet search or discussion with a professional massage therapist will result in opinion after opinion on this topic. Websites geared toward runners generally say a post-marathon massage is a good idea as it speeds recovery, helps with sleep, and relaxes the nervous system.
In a 2010 study from the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers found that although sports massage is supported by the athletic community as a recovery aid, there are some downsides to an immediate post-marathon massage session. As subjects were tested in order to find the link between massage and recovery, some important findings were suggested.
- Post-marathon massage impaired the removal of acidic byproducts.
- The impairment led to decreased muscle blood flow in early times of recovery.
This certainly does not mean absolutely no massage post-run. What it does mean, according to the Running Doc, is that active runners should wait at least two hours after a race before seeking massage therapy. He notes that the two hour time period allows the body to remove lactic acid, a natural byproduct of exercise.
The Benefits of a Sports Massage
Active runners know the toll it can take on an individual’s body—foot pain, knee injuries, and muscle soreness. During active exercise, and especially during a marathon, muscles begin to be stressed. Runners can experience inflammation, soreness, and muscle fatigue. Here are some ways a post-race massage can help you feel better (these are taken from NC Massage School’s website):
- Massage encourages circulation, which can contribute to less tension and tiredness
- Nutrients to tissues, which may have been damaged, are enhanced
- Massage can improve the recuperation of stressed ligaments and tendons
- The nervous system is given an opportunity to relax
Best Massage for Runners
Different massage therapists will recommend different types of massage based on your activity, but there are a few that may be helpful for active runners. Swedish massage, with its long pressured strokes, can relieve muscle tension and encourage increased blood flow. Trigger point therapy will help to target pain in the muscle tissue and muscle knots. Deep tissue massage targets layers of muscle with focused pressure.
It is a good idea to have regular massage therapy sessions, not only for general health reasons, but also to keep muscles loose and relaxed for all of the races and marathons you take part in as an active adult. Remember to utilize the expertise of a professional, be honest with your therapist, and do not ignore any pain that appears as a result of the massage session.