Injury Prevention: Sports Massage for Runners, Range of Motion Physical Therapy

With just over 3 months to go to the Dublin Marathon a lot of runners will be starting to focus on their marathon training. Most training plans will involve building your mileage gradually over the next 12 – 16 weeks. With that in mind, I am often asked when is the best time to get a sport massage when training for a marathon. In this blog I will give some advice and tips to bear in mind to help prevent any sports injuries while training, it is also important to build them into your training plan.

Some of  the most common injuries I see from runners are ITB issues, Achilles tendinopathies, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures and common muscle strains.

The key benefits of getting a sports massage is to help improve circulation, balance the body’s musculoskeletal system, work out trigger points (knots) and reduce stress on joints. All of these factors will directly improve the ability to train regularly and improve your performance.

The difference between a sports massage and a massage at a spa, a sports massage will focus on the part of the body that is most often used by the athlete. It may also vary from upper to lower extremities, depending on the current issue. A sports massage is a deeper massage and will involve different techniques to help assist with muscle repair and recovery. I advise going to a therapist who  runs or is active in sport so they understand the effects on the body from training regularly.

Runners who are training regularly and intensely should look to avail of a massage weekly, especially during peak training periods. For those on a budget, you can still get benefits from a monthly sports massage, preferably during an easy training week when the body is recovering and rebuilding. I would always recommend a pre- and post massages for 10K, half marathons and marathons etc.

If people can’t afford to get a sports massage regularly, I recommend using self-massage tools such as foam rollers, massage balls, etc. These tools can be used in conjunction with regular stretching. This maintenance program is important and should be considered part of your training plan. I also recommend people cross train to help the body recover and train, and give the body break from running e.g. pilates, swimming or cycling. Foam Rolling Video for the lower body.

The biggest problem that I see with running injuries is most people do not address them soon enough. I often get clients contacting me about a month after they started to experience a niggle or some pain. It normally means they have been trying to run off the injury?? (which makes loads of sense) or they feel it will resolve over time  or they take a short break but go back to the regular training plan (to much to soon).

Unfortunately by the time they come to me the injury has now become a bigger problem and they can no longer run without pain. This is turn means it will take longer for the injury to resolve, it is so important to seek help if you feel a niggle that either causes pain while running, after running or does not resolve within a week.

So my best tip for sports injury prevention would be to create a maintenance program of foam rolling and stretching, cross train to give the body a break and get regular sports massages. Also if you feel an issue developing, seek help straight away. I hate to see clients who have invested months of time and effort training but ignore body maintenance and injury until it is too late.

If you would like to learn more or book a sports massage please contact me at Range of Motion Physical Therapy, Lucan Dublin.