As the London and Manchester Marathon places have just been released, there are a number of first time marathon runners (and also more experienced runners) who are about to start training in earnest for the events early next year.
For those of you who are planning on running a marathon, read on! We have worked with many marathon runners in the past and all have benefited from ensuring their training programmes include regular sports massage.
Why is that?
Well the simple answer is that regular maintenance massage can help to keep your muscles healthy and injury free, which is of great importance to long distance runners.
Of course it is more complicated than that – depending how much you want to know about anatomy and physiology. But for you, the runner, massage therapy is a must if you want to help prevent injuries, improve your running times and have greater energy.
|London marathon runners
Sports Massage works with the muscles, tendons, fascia and all soft tissue structures in the body which are put under stress when running. After a run, your muscles will have suffered microtrauma – tiny amounts of damage which you are not able to detect. It’s unavoidable, but how you deal with it is what matters because microtrauma is one of the paths which can lead to injury. Essentially, microtrauma is tiny tears in muscle fibres as a result of overloading or overuse. It’s the same result that happens when you have a muscle tear, though perhaps not as obvious or painful – so underlying the trauma there will be bleeding, inflammation, swelling and formation of scar tissue.
Through soft tissue therapy we can prevent the build up of scar tissue by breaking down any adhesions (what you might feel as knotty areas) and keeping muscle fibres aligned along the functional lines which are needed to stay injury free and to keep you running strong.
The danger of not dealing with microtrauma and vulnerable areas is, as we’ve mentioned, injury, but also muscle imbalances elsewhere in your body. Joints then become stressed and biomechanically inefficient which can lead to tendons becoming overly stressed and less efficient movement patterns. An example of injury which can be the result of untreated and repetitive microtrauma is tendinitis. For runners, one area which often suffers is the Achilles tendon.
Repeated microtrauma = weak & damaged muscle fibres = chronic muscle strain = injury
If muscles are chronically strained then the collagen (which helps to build muscles) is reabsorbed and results in the weakening of soft tissues in that area.
Weak soft tissues = injury susceptibility
Massage is also good at improving circulation in your body. If you have poor circulation then you’ll feel sluggish, lack energy and generally not be enjoying your runs. When we say circulation, we’re talking about blood (which carries oxygen and nutrients essential for optimal muscle functioning) and lymph (interstitial fluid involved in the removal of waste products and bacteria). The interesting fact about the lymphatic system is that it has no built in pump; it relies totally on one way valves and other systems in your body (muscle contraction, arterial pulsation) to assist the movement of fluid. Massage therefore, can help with lymphatic flow by encouraging it to return into the circulatory system appropriately.
Better circulation = improved energy = better running
The challenge of running a marathon is quite a big one for most people. Motivation to run the 26 miles (42 kilometres) has many origins. The risk of injury is the same for everyone (well more or less the same – there’s intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have to be taken into account). If you choose to put your body through a rigorous and lengthy training plan then you must respect your body enough to look after it along the way.
Sports Massage can benefit all runners, regardless of background, support or motivation. Here’s an overview of some of the benefits Sports Massage can offer you:
- Injury prevention
- Faster personal bests
- Greater flexibility and increased range of movement
- Functional muscle balance
- Improved circulation
- Faster recovery times
- Pain relief
- Greater energy
- Improved posture
The best way to look after your body and keep strong for running is to have regular monthly maintenance massage – let us, the experts, keep you healthy and help you to prevent injuries.