Massage Therapy Provides Multitude of Benefits for Competition Runners
The running season is now in full stride. Individuals who participate in 5ks, 10ks and everything thon, from marathons to triathlons, are out in droves pushing their personal goals and muscles to the limit. As runners train in advance of their competitions, many tactics are utilized to take proper care of their bodies. Both in preparation and in recovery, massage therapy has become an integral part of a competitive runner’s ability to stay on the top of his or her game, according to StrengthRunners.com.
Sherry Mix, triathlon competitor and owner of two Elements Massage™ studios in Fitchburg and Middleton, Wis., understands the passion and determination that runners experience with each race. Whether it is the thrill of outdoing their personal best time or the satisfaction of running for a cause in a local community, the sense of accomplishment is a driving force for these athletes. However, the beating that their bodies endure is an un-welcomed, though expected result that can be lessened with massage. Mix has been competing in triathlons and half-marathons for years, and it’s her love of the sport that commits her to give back to it year after year in a meaningful way; sponsoring a number of racing events.
By sponsoring these events, Mix is able to provide real benefits to runners by bringing the studio to the race. Her studio therapists are available before and after the races she sponsors, and finds that many runners happily take advantage of the service they provide.
“I think the runners really enjoy having us there,” says Mix. “We help them stretch and loosen their muscles before the race and provide massage after the race to help relieve their tired and sore muscles.”
One of the biggest benefits of massage is that it can help improve the effectiveness of the circulatory system. These effects are beneficial to anyone, but they are especially important to runners. The editors at Runner’s World report that massage can benefit runners in lots of ways*:
• Dilates blood vessels which promotes circulation and lowers blood pressure
• Assists venous blood flow
• Promotes rapid removal of metabolic waste products
• Improves the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells
• Improves pulmonary function by loosening tight respiratory muscles
• Reduces cortisol levels and norepinephrine and epinephrine levels
• Restores posture and gait
• Improves connective tissue healing
In addition to the circulatory benefits, regular massages after a long run or race can help reduce the risk of injury. According to Runner’s World, a massage after a grueling long run can reduce the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the day after soreness many runners experience. Massage can also help reduce inflammation in the muscles, which allows many runners to forgo ice treatments or having to take a day off, so they can get back to training sooner.
Mix and her licensed massage therapists do eight racing events per year, providing table massages and educating racers about the importance of massage therapy.
“We could do so many more races, but it’s difficult to do and still take care of our clients. Still, it’s fun to get out of the studio and be outdoors,” adds Mix. “We train together, biking and running, so it’s a great way to bond as a staff.” Mix and her staff make a point to participate as a team in at least one race per year.
While the benefits of massage are numerous, it’s important to note that they are also cumulative. For the best results, runners may want to get involved in a regular massage program. A regular massage program can be beneficial not only to the seasoned runner but new runners as well. A regular massage program can help new runners reduce the intensity of the muscle soreness that comes with any new workout routine, helping motivate new runners to stick with the sport.
Mix also recommends that runners communicate their training goals and regimen with their massage therapist to gain an added benefit as well. Competitor Running states that massage therapy timing in relation to race day, as well as specific modalities, can have different benefits for runners.
Mix concluded that, “Competitive running can be so hard on your body that to truly enjoy the race and benefits it can provide, incorporating massage therapy is the best way I know of to actually get the most out of all the work you put in.”
*Runners World Article from 2013 was sourced for the benefits.