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The benefits of sports massage

The Benefits of Sports Massage for RunnersFew things sound more wonderful to a runner’s sore and tired muscles than the word “massage”.

Massage perks for runners
Everyone knows a massage feels good on tight, overworked muscles. But massage therapy boasts many other benefits, including improved relaxation, enhanced flexibility, healthier blood pressure levels, and better athletic performance.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association:

Individuals who participate in exercise and athletic programs who seek enhanced performance, improved conditioning, faster recovery, injury prevention, and assistance in maintaining peek fitness can benefit from massage therapy given by professional massage therapists working within their scope of practice.

Massage therapy can help runners:

  • Heal from the demands of running. The repetitive motion of running causes shortened, tight muscles, loss of range of motion, and decreased circulation. Massage therapy can elongate and loosen muscles, improve range of motion, and restore blood flow. Basically, massage therapy makes the circulatory system work better.
  • Recover quicker. Massage helps move metabolic waste from the muscles to the circulatory system, so your muscles recover more quickly.
  • Breathe better. A massage therapist will work to loosen up all muscles, including tight respiratory muscles. This can improve lung function and make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Improve their form. Tight muscles change our posture and gait, which can up the risk for running injuries.

Note the effects of massage therapy are cumulative. The more often you get massages, the better results you’ll see.

Scheduling your massage
Don’t get a massage immediately after an intense workout or race. If you get a massage in the 24 hours following a tough run, it can do more harm than good. Wait at least two to three days afterwards, or until muscles are no longer sore to touch, so your muscles have time to recover and replenish fluids

When you book your appointment, make sure to schedule a sports massage. A sports massage will target the muscle groups most used in running and will likely also involve some assisted stretching.

What to expect during the massage
First, the massage therapist will ask you to complete a form detailing your health history. You’ll review it together, and he or she will ask about any injuries and any areas of the body that need extra attention. Now is a good time to tell the therapist that you’re a runner. Mention any muscle groups that are particularly tight and sore, or any areas of the body that you’d like the therapist to avoid.

The therapist will ask you to remove as many clothes as you’re comfortable with (he or she will exit the room while you undress). Then your therapist will instruct you to lay down on the massage table face-up or face-down. The lights in the room will be dimmed and relaxing music may play.

When the massage therapist re-enters the room, the massage will begin. He or she will use oils or lotion and gently start the massage. After a few minutes, the therapist will turn up the pressure. Let the therapist know if you prefer deeper or lighter pressure. A sports massage usually includes pretty intense pressure and deep stretching.

Afterwards, the therapist will instruct you to drink a lot of water for the rest of the day. Drinking water helps your body flush the waste out of the muscles and into the circulatory system.

Written by Jen Matz. 

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