Buying the correct running shoes, following a training program diligently and adhering to nutritional advice are just a few things we as runners see as priority in training. We put our muscles and joints under severe strain, but seldom do we stop to consider the value of sport massage. When increasing mileage to attain a certain goal, sport massage is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
Sport massage has the benefit of preventing injury and optimising performance. Each muscle fibre runs parallel to the next, in order to work as a unit when the muscle contracts. Previous injuries, scar tissue and high intensity training can cause adhesions to form in these fibres. Applying pressure in specific directions helps to re-align the fibres.
Effects of sport massage include:
- Blood flow increases through dilated vessels to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the fibres.
- Lymph drainage is improved and will decrease swelling in the cells post-exercise.
- Cross-friction techniques break down scar tissue and adhesions from injuries.
- Joint range of motion and general flexibility is improved.
- Overuse injuries occur due to overtraining and compensation patterns. Regular massage can help to decrease the risk of such injuries by detecting imbalances before it develops into an injury.
Pre-event massage is aimed at enhancing performance and should be done about 3 days before an event. Post-event massage is focused on cooling down and to speed recovery after running. Stretching was discussed in the previous article, and should form a part of your cool-down regime.