If you’ve ever gone for a run you understand how sore your whole body becomes soon after. Parts of your body hurt that you didn’t even know you had! It’s great to get a massage after a run for its therapeutic benefits, but did you know that a massage will also help speed recovery, reduce soreness and facilitate in healing injuries? True, a massage can do all of these things and more, however it’s important to note what type of massage to get and the best time as well.
As a massage therapist, I’ve seen athletes who aren’t sure what type of massage they need; under the common misconception that all massages are basically the same. In reality, there are four types of massage that are most effective for runners.
An Active Release Technique (A.R.T) is a massage technique combining movement with specific, deep pressure to help relieve muscle adhesion and reduce scar tissue buildup. During this session the therapist will use his or her hands to evaluate the texture tightness and mobility of the soft tissue then break up these adhesions. This is the best technique for treating a specific injury such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and hamstring injuries.
Trigger point therapy is an excellent massage to target injuries such as IT band tightness, calf strains, and hamstring injuries. The therapist will target and find knots in the muscles or areas of pain and use deep pressure to help loosen the adhesions.
Must runners are familiar with Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage; the former being one of the most well-known for its relaxation elements, and the latter for targeting both the superficial and deep layers of muscles.
How often you receive a massage relies on how hard you’re training, your schedule, and your budget. If you can swing it, try getting monthly or weekly massages to catch tight areas before they become full blown injuries. If you’re unable to fit those (or budget those) in, consider getting one or two during your hardest training timeframe.
Try to schedule a massage either in the evening after a strenuous workout or the following morning. If the therapist is going deep or using methods like A.R.T., the muscles can often be sore or lethargic for a few days after a massage. Timing the massage as close to your last hard work out as possible allows your body the most amount of time to recover.
If you plan on getting a massage before your next big race, schedule it at least 3 to 5 days out from the race. If it’s been a while since your last massage, make it a week to ten days. Also note that the deeper the massage, the longer it takes for the body to recover and respond – just like running workouts.
Lastly, before your massage, ask your therapist to use doTerra Lemongrass; a very effective oil in soothing aching feet and tired muscles!