3 Reasons to Make Massage Part of Your Training Program
Updated: Jun 4
It's time to start seeing massage therapy as more than just a stress-reliever or mental self-care. If your running goals include recovering well, preventing injuries, and optimizing your performance, a skilled sports massage therapist could be your greatest ally!
But... what is sports massage, exactly? How is it different from any other massage?
There are various techniques that are often used for "sports" applications. Active and assisted stretches, soft tissue release, or percussion tools (massage guns). But mostly, it's about the "who" and the "how".
A therapist who specializes in sports has a deeper understanding of the demands of training and the requirements of different sports on the human body. Along with that knowledge and expertise, what makes a session sports massage is mostly about how it’s used, and what the treatment goals are. It's less about the exact techniques and more about how to use them, and which ones to combine.
When a massage therapist is experienced in working with athletes, they will plan sessions differently depending on where they fit in with your training or racing. Adjustments are made according to your needs on the day, but also based on where you are in your training week, training cycle, or race calendar.
Read on for the key benefits of sports massage – and why you should add massage to your training program!
1. Massage helps maintain muscle and joint health
Maintenance massages should be scheduled at regular intervals throughout your training cycle. The frequency will depend on your goals, workout volume, schedule, and budget. For some, it may be twice a week – for others, once a month. The aim of a maintenance plan is to optimize the quality and range of movement and keep your body healthy and happy, while helping to prevent injuries and staying on top of nagging aches. A regular massage can catch budding concerns before they turn into injury.
This type of maintenance is for everyone who is active and wants to stay healthy, and it becomes especially important when you're training for a half marathon distance or above.
2. Massage prepares your body for competition
A pre-race massage includes lots of mobilizations, dynamic stretching, and usually just a light massage. The aim is to get your soft tissues warmed up, circulation going, and get you prepared for the physical demands of competition as well as feeling mentally ready and focused. A pre-race massage is best done any time between two days to just minutes before the race start.
3. Massage helps you recover from racing and hard workouts
Massage is a great tool to help your body recover from a tough workout, a hard training week, or racing. Recovery treatments can take place immediately after you finish, or up to a few days after. Again, the techniques, goals, and benefits will vary depending on the timing. The recovery window is a perfect time for a more relaxing massage and a good stretch to lengthen muscle fibers and flush out metabolic waste. Done soon after finishing a race or key workout, massage will also help reduce muscle soreness in the coming days.
For running coaching with the support of a certified coach and licensed massage therapist, check out what we do at Elements Running Education. We build strong and healthy runners for life, not just for a race.