Sports massage can be painful. Really painful. I’ll admit to shedding a tear during some of mine, or just going really really quiet. The thing is, healthy muscle shouldn’t feel that painful when being pressed. If its that painful with the pressure that a sports therapist uses, then that muscle truly needed the massage.
Recently I’ve fallen off of the massage bandwagon, and this has really affected my training and sense of well-being. Luckily, I recently met a new Sports Therapist, who reminded me the error of my ways, so I thought I’d remind you all about the benefits of sports massage.
Injury Prevention and Athletic performance. These are the two things that we as runners are looking for, and sports massage can help with both.
A good sports massage therapist can feel what’s going on in there; he or she knows what healthy tissue feels like versus unhealthy tissue, and can give guidance on what to do with a ‘niggle’ or indeed an injury. If you see them regularly, you will rarely get injuries, other than the really unlucky ones, like dropping something heavy on your foot, because your therapist will be able to tell when you’re doing too much and advise when to ease off. In my case, its great to have someone say that the pain I’m feeling is a minor problem that only requires 48 hours rest, before gently returning to training, rather than a week or more off.
With training in running, there may be points in the muscles that build up more tension than the rest of the muscle. These are known as trigger points. When your massage therapist presses into them, it can be very painful, hence the name. Unfortunately, this trigger point can limit bloodflow to that area of the muscle, as its so contracted that blood can’t get through. If this remains for a long time, then eventually the muscle tissue may start to die, and scar tissue laid down. Not only can this lead to injury due to potential imbalances it may create, but it also reduces your strength and power in that muscle, and ultimately running speed. If you want to run your best in races, you better make sure that you don’t allow this scar tissue to build up.
Foam rollers are a cheap alternative to sports massage, and will keep you ticking over between massages, but ultimately, nothing is as good and beneficial as a trained specialist who can feel what is going on, and can really work these trigger points out without being limited by your pain, as you may be on a foam roller.
Ideally you would time your sports massages so they fall naturally within your recovery weeks – these would be best timed after key races, or after particularly high mileage weeks. I tend to schedule them the day after a long run, which I usually have as a rest day, which hopefully allows me enough recovery from the massage that I can train hard the next day, but also allow myself the flexibility that the next day may have to become a recovery run as well.
If you want to book in for a massage with Nick, and trust me, he’s very good, he can either come to your home, or he has treatment rooms in Colchester and Sudbury – reach him on 07808 120352.
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Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.