Whether this is your first marathon or your twenty-sixth, massage is extremely beneficial pre- and post-race. Here are the top seven benefits of regular sessions for marathon runners…
1. Increases circulation and blood flow
Massage is well-known for its ability to improve circulation and blood flow around the body – both of which are essential for marathon runners to continue to perform at their peak. Regular massage helps to dilate blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to challenged muscles, and thus encouraging healing and helping your legs to recover faster before your next run. Massage also improves the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells which is important as runners need as much oxygen transported to their muscles as possible.
2. Reduces muscle soreness and fatigue
Training programmes are a prerequisite for marathon running and massage – in particular deep tissue massage – can be extremely beneficial for tired and sore muscles if the intensity of your training has increased. Massage will help to flush out toxins, such as lactic acid, from the muscles which if left untreated can damage the tissue overtime. It will also decrease your muscle recovery time between training sessions allowing you to get back to pounding the pavement faster!
3. Increases range of movement and flexibility
A good range of motion and muscle flexibility is vital if you want to improve your running performance, and massage can really help to better both. Regular massage will loosen tight muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissues and joints, making them all less prone to injury. Combined with daily stretching, massage will keep your joints fluid and moving properly allowing you to run more efficiently.
4. Improves posture and gait
Good posture whilst running will not only improve your overall performance, it can also prevent injury and discomfort – essential for competitive marathon runners. Massage is fantastic for helping to realign your body into its correct position. Regular massage releases trigger points which in turn will remove postural distortions. As muscles are loosened and relaxed through massage, your running gait will also become more efficient as your range of motion is increased.
5. Prevents injury
Injury is a likelihood in any sport and especially in the repetitive nature of running. Regular massage is very effective at preventing injuries. By keeping your muscles flexible and loose, they are less likely to tear or rupture than stiff, sore muscles. Massage can also detect small injuries before they become more serious, working out tight and overworked spots that could prevent you from competing.
6. Improves pulmonary function
Breathing properly during a race can make all the difference whether or not you reach the finish line. Massage is great at loosening tight respiratory muscles and fascia – by working the front and back muscles on the upper body, massage can lengthen and relax them, improving your overall pulmonary function.
7. Relaxes and reassures you before a race
Ultimately, massage is effective at helping marathon runners relax before race day. Although a massage should be avoided the day before a race – your muscles need at least 24 hours to recover from a massage session – having sessions leading up to your run will not only allow your muscles to relax but your mind too which can also succumb to the pressures of training!
Make sure you receive a massage as soon as possible following your race. This will help to improve your recovery rate and reduce the intensity delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that is often experienced 1-3 days after a marathon.