by Jiri, 5th January 2012
“Massage is essential part of my training programme”, says RW’s triple Olympian contributing editor Jo Pavey. “It is important for both performance and recovery.”
Mo Farah also gets rubbeded the right way: " I get massaged by the physio all the time, it is so important when you've put body through hard work."
Does it actually work? Yes, but...
There are factors like type of the massage, frequency, quality but no one should expect big difference from the first session and think they can knock down three minutes from 10k next weekend.
Let’s then have a look at the researches and what details they can give us.
Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise says that three massages a week for ten weeks add four degrees of flexibility and about 13% strength.
Research from Journal of Athletic Training noted that soreness reduction in post-exercise muscles is 30% and satisfied run-and-rub testers enjoyed decreased fatigue with improved recovery.
These results keep elite athletes – including Haile Gebrselassie, who has daily treatments – coming back.
Another study found that massaged muscles regained more strength, had fewer damaged fibres and showed less swelling than non-massaged muscles.
So what are the benefits?
Massage can improve flexibility of tight muscles, and correct imbalances. Massage can also identify areas of tightness you weren’t aware of, nipping potential problems in the bud and preventing injury...which is not too bad for 30 minute lie down.
Muscle soreness is not caused by lactic acid, says experts, but by microscopic damage to muscle fibres. Massage has still the power to soothe by promoting healing through breaking down fibrous tissue and adhesions.
So when I should have massage?
Massage stretches muscles and fasciae, decreasing stiffness...and so making the movement slower.
So the timing is very important! Pre-event massage should be short and invigorating, if provided. After event treatment is also matter of timing. Straight after hard training is recommended light massage, the next day stronger massage.
But the best advice is to seek treatment before a niggle becomes injury.
Do I need it as a recreational runner?
Recreational runners use the same muscles as elite athletes and undergo the same stress. Many runners push themselves to perform to their potential, so pre- and post-event treatments help them prevent injury, achieve their goals and recover well.
How do I find the right therapist?
As personal preferences vary, the only way to find the right person is through working with them. Finding then sticking with the right therapist will reap rewards.
This of course does not apply only for runners, the research is also valid for other activities.
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