With warmer weather just around the corner, people are starting to get more active which can include being more disciplined about running or training for a 5K. Getting back into the swing of things comes with some additional aches and pains, so we thought we’d discuss the best types of massage therapy for runners.
Swedish massage is perhaps the most well known of the common massage modalities and is often associated with relaxation and pampering. However, Swedish massage can also benefit runners, especially before big competitions.
Swedish massage utilizes long, flowing strokes of various pressure, although usually light, to release muscle tension and increase blood flow.
Swedish massage is best used in the days before big competitions or as a recovery tool after hard workouts. The lighter, relaxing strokes help relieve stress and muscle tension without damaging the muscles, which is important if you have a big race on the horizon. A Swedish massage before a race, especially if you’re coming off a hard week of training, can help you re-energize, relax, and get your legs back under you.
Most runners are familiar with deep tissue massage, which is often confused with deep pressure (e.g., when you tell the therapist to “go harder”). Deep tissue massage targets both the superficial and deep layers of muscles and fascia and are often quite intense as a result of the deliberate, focused work.
Deep tissue massages typically focus on a few specific problem areas and, unlike trigger point therapy, work the entire muscle. Because runners often have tight spots and interconnected issues when volume and intensity are high, deep tissue massage is often the modality of choice during hard training segments.
The frequency at which you get massage work done is completely up to you and depends on how much you like massage, how hard you’re training, and your budget.
If you’re able to afford it, getting a monthly or weekly massage can help prevent injuries by catching tight areas before they become problematic. If it isn’t possible to fit a recurring massage into your schedule (or budget), consider getting one or two during your hardest training block or if you’re doing a lot of speed work, which tends to elicit injuries that can be treated by massage, like tight hamstrings or hips.
It takes time to recover and not feel lethargic after a hard massage. If your legs feel a little dead the next day, that’s OK. This is why it’s important to schedule at least one easy day between a hard massage and a hard workout.
Runners love to get a massage. Not only does it feel great, but it can also help speed recovery, reduce muscles soreness and facilitate injury healing. If you’ve laced up those running shoes and want to get the full benefit of getting in better shape, remember to consider a regular massage as an important part of taking better care of yourself.