Massage has successfully integrated into a professional runner’s training program. It can help a runner speed their recovery, aid with muscle soreness, and boost injury healing. However, there are a lot of questions and misconceptions about massage among common runners.
What is the best time to treat yourself with a massage session? Which types are beneficial for runners? Is a muscle massager for runners effective, or is it better to do a handheld treatment on your own? Here we will answer all these questions and even more: provide brief yet understandable instructions on how to make a massage on your own.
Benefits of Sports Massage for Runners
First, let’s enumerate the physiological and psychological advantages a runner will get by having a regular massage:
- it speeds recovery from repetitive physical activity;
- massage can relieve muscle stiffness and tension;
- a quality session can aid with remodeling scar tissue;
- it reduces muscle pain and swelling;
- your muscle flexibility increases;
- it stimulates blood circulation.
Which Time Is the Most Preferable?
When it comes to timing, scheduling a massage close to your last run, preferably after it, gives your body the essential amount of time to heal and return to a normal state. If you have a big race on the horizon, get a massage at least 3-5 days before the race.
Having a session right after a hard run contraindicates the recovery process. Massage might worsen substantial muscle damage. You’d better also avoid this technique before a race as it might make you feel sore or reduce muscle tension so that you will feel unresponsive.
Which Types of Massage Can Help Runners Recover?
Here are the most typical modalities of massage which specialists advise to reduce the intensity of muscle soreness, improve your immune function, and diminish stress hormones like cortisol.
1. Active release
Active release technique or A.R.T. is a method that combines movement with deep pressure to heal muscle adhesions and eliminate scar tissue build-up. This technique is applied by a therapist to treat a particular injury where scar tissue might weaken the recovery.
2. Swedish massage
Swedish massage is usually associated with relaxation and pampering. This technique can also help runners to recover before big marathons. It implies flowing strokes of various levels of pressure to release muscle tension and stimulate blood flow.
3. Deep tissue massage
The deep tissue type improves blood flow to your stiff muscles by encouraging the circulatory system to work faster. As a result, you receive an influx of oxygen-rich blood, flushing out the byproducts left after extensive running, and delivering fresh nutrients to your body.
However, deep tissue treatment frees waste products at the cellular level, which might leave you feeling somewhat sore. It is best to view massage sessions as a type of workout after a run. Professionals usually advise getting a massage after running, with a slight run on the following day. It will help your body to recover and preserve the benefits by avoiding a hard workout 12 to 24 hours afterward.
4. Trigger point therapy
This type of massage works on muscle knots and parts with pain in the muscle tissue. Therapists treat knots in the muscles by applying deep pressure to help relieve the adhesions. It is best to heal injuries.
How to Do It Like a Pro
The importance of self-massage can’t be underestimated for those who don’t want to spend thousands on therapeutic massage. If you don’t have that amount of money to throw at costly massage treatments, you might try to do it at home.
However, it’s pretty challenging to massage peculiar parts of your body with your own hands such as your back, neck, or arms. You can opt for a quality mechanic body massager and save you the hassle of trying to reach the areas of your body that only a yoga guru can manage to do.
There are various models of body massagers for runners, from foam rollers and massage balls to mechanical devices of the pro level. We advise that you buy one of the latter since it is more effective, easy to use, and doesn’t require much effort from your side. Here is how a basic massage gun works:
- Start with low power and vibration. Get used to your feelings before increasing power or speed.
- Move the gun over your body. Don’t concentrate on one area for too long as it can cause aggravation.
- Use it on large muscle groups but avoid muscle attachments and tendons.
- Massage major muscle groups for nearly 15-30 seconds to warm them up.
- Avoid using the tool on injuries.
Studies have shown that a decent, solid device can help runners to improve their performance when you use it as part of a warm-up before a run and reduce post-run soreness.
“M” Is for Maximum Running Result
Massage after running can help you recover faster and be ready for another marathon sooner. It can assist you in preventing injuries and running higher mileage, which will make you a better runner. Don’t hesitate to get yourself a professional therapy or purchase a quality body massager to complement your run with a powerful health boost.