You’ve been training for months, you’re gearing up to embark on the highly ambitious and extraordinary experience of running the New York City Marathon. With the anticipation of race day within reach, your adrenaline is at an all time high. You’re finally prepared, both physically and mentally… ready to take on the 26.2 miles and cross the finish line in triumphant glory.
What happens once the race is complete? What happens when the adrenaline subsides and every muscle in your body aches with each step you take? What is one of the best ways to speed up your recovery, tend to your sore muscles and help facilitate injury healing after completing such a victorious event?
The answer… a therapeutic massage.
While most marathon runners don’t need much convincing to get a massage, it is important to discern which massage modality is most beneficial to receive before and after running a marathon. Like using the right tool for the right job, when your body is primed for race day, you want to feel relaxed, and at the same time, vitalized from having a more soothing and restorative style of massage beforehand. You wouldn’t want to start running with your muscles aching and tender from having a deep, localized massage treatment the day before.
Runners, ask these questions before scheduling your next massage:
1) What types of massages can I choose from?
Swedish Massage: Longer strokes with lighter pressure allow the body to flush out toxins and release built up muscle tension. The lighter strokes work to reduce stress and tension in the muscles without damage, an integral part of recovery.
Swedish Massage works to increase blood flow and is best for days leading up to your marathon or right after as recovery.
Deep Tissue Massage: Strong pressure through both the superficial and deep layers of muscle aid in releasing chronic tension. This particular technique helps to increase range of motion and improve circulation throughout the body.
Often quite intense, deep tissue massages should only be scheduled several days after your marathon. Take care of your tight spots after hard training or a week post marathon.
Trigger Point: Targets muscle knots and uses deep pressure to aid in loosening areas of referred pain.
Wait at least a week after running your marathon before scheduling a Trigger Point massage. If you suffer from tightness or injuries from running, this may be a good option for you.
2) What type of massage should I get and when?
Follow this rule of thumb: The deeper the massage, the longer the body takes to recover.
1-3 Days Post-Marathon: Swedish Massage (aids in repairing exerted muscles).
4-7 Days Post-Marathon: Deep Tissue Massage (great for tight areas you start to notice during the week).
3) Why do I need to drink water after a massage?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! As a runner, you know how important hydration is especially during training. Staying hydrated after a massage is essential to flush out the toxins and waste that muscles release during the massage (don’t let that stuff sit around).
4) What are the benefits of massage for a runner?
Post-marathon it is essential to reduce swelling and muscle tension as inflammation is very common in runners. A massage can help warm-up your muscles and stretch out those tight areas (quads, low back, calves, hip flexors…. yes!). A highly experienced Massage Therapist has the knowledge to guide you in preventing injury and give you at-home treatment techniques.
After the countless training miles – you deserve this, you deserve to treat yourself! You have been tough on your body and your body has carried you through. Thank your body and recover quickly in the most relaxing way.
Written by Jesse Green, DPT and Taylor Malengo, Integrative Health Coach