We've looked at the benefits of sports massage previously; but understanding the different types and techniques is important so that you're receiving what you need and at the right time. Sam Smith, owner of Energise Mobile Sports Massage explains everything.
When should you have a sports massage and how do they vary?
Sports massage may be viewed as a bit of a blanket term for a few variations of massage that are used for different purposes. For example, a massage that you will have 30 minutes before a long distance run may vary from the type of massage you would have 30 minutes after that same event. In this blog I have outlined three variations, and explained when you should have them and what effects and benefits they will have. To make it relevant to running, I have related it to a build up to a running event with a time scale of 7 days along with the recommendations for what treatment to have in the days after the event.
Muscle Maintenance (Event Build Up)
In the build up to an event, for example 3-4 days before a 10k or half marathon, massage can be used to help encourage general upkeep and conditioning of your muscles. It is used to both to help them recover from a previous event (if for example you had a hard training session a few days before) and also to help prepare them for upcoming training sessions and events. These sessions will involve more deep soft tissue work, with the intention of reducing muscle tightness and tension. These are the ones that will hurt a little, but they do say ‘no pain, no gain’…and you will reap the benefits.
This should be done on the day, in the hour before you start your event to supplement your warm up. The purpose of this is to warm your muscles up to get them ready for the 10km (or other) that you are about to put them through. This involves fast paced massage that increases blood flow to your muscles which generates heat and increases their pliability. This makes your muscles feel nice and loose ready for your event. For those of you I have treated at events previously, I am sure you find a pre-event massage a good way to get ready for your run.
You should have a post event massage from anything between straight after to a few hours after your event. The idea here is to flush the muscles to remove waste products from them, such as the infamous lactic acid. This will help reduce muscle fatigue and soreness in the upcoming days which is crucial should you have any more runs or exercise planned. This can also be used to ease any tightness that you experienced during your event.
After this, the cycle repeats. Ideally should have muscle maintenance a few days after your event to work out any specific areas of muscle tightness to ensure you are getting the most out of your training sessions in the build up to future events. It should be noted that purely massage will not necessarily result in improved performance. It should be integrated into your training programme alongside regular stretching, cooling down, and well planned training sessions.