Whether you run for fun, competition or stress relief, massage therapy can significantly improve your running potential and support your body against injury. It is very likely that massage would help improve your flexibility, reduce your risk of injury, as well as deliver a whole host of other benefits too! Massage and running go hand in hand, and here’s why…
Running is a sustained, repetitive motion in which the muscles are constantly expanding and contracting. These sustained, repetitive muscular contractions translate into speed, power, and distance allowing us to run faster and further. The greater these contractions are, the greater the force generated is, and the more muscle fibers are required to shorten. This repetitive motion can also translate to shortened, tight muscles, loss of range of motion in joints , and decreased circulation. Massage works to elongate the muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore joint range of motion, and improve circulation.
Massage applies moving pressure to muscles and other tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Fascia is the sheath that surrounds our muscles similar to skin on a fruit. That energy softens fascia tissue and makes clenched muscles relax. It also removes adhesions between fascia and muscles (places where the two stick together and restrict movement from muscles). This is especially great news for runners who rely on limber joints and muscles for pain-free peak performance. Massage after exercise reduces the intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is that peg-legged feeling you get two days after your marathon.
Research has shown that just one massage treatment can result in an increased number of several types of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that play a key role in fighting infection, while also decreasing levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” linked to chronic inflammation. Massage can allow runners to tolerate more training, and harder training, because it improves recovery time and speeds up the ability to go harder two days later.
So after your next race or grueling workout, try a massage if you haven’t already! A therapist may go deeper in order to help with recovery—or not. Our therapists at Sacred Hour communicate with athlete’s and runners using touch, through this they can determine the state of the muscle and if it’s best to use light strokes or deep-tissue techniques to treat in a safe and productive way.
To further extend the benefits of massage, you can help the waste product removal process by staying hydrated and drinking lots of water. Combined with a clean diet of whole foods you’ll get the most out of your massage sessions, and will recover much more quickly—so you can train harder and race faster.